Wednesday, 22 September 2021

In Conversation ... with Juliet Sampson

 

In Conversation with 
Juliet Sampson


Tell us about your most recent publication. 

Cato’s Can Can my second picture book was released on 1st August. I started dancing when I was eleven and my love for dance inspired the creation of this story. There are many picture books that focus just on ballet but Cato’s Can Can represents different dance styles such as jazz, tap, hip-hop, flamenco, Irish as well as ballet.

Movement words teach readers how to dance in these various dance styles. And they also learn about the days of the week when Cato the cockatoo tries to find a friend on his journey. So, bop, bop, bop into the story, find out about Australian birds and celebrate the joy of dance.

Illustrated by Katrina Fisher

Published by  Ford Street Publishing



How much research goes into your writing?

Research plays a large part, it’s important when creating a story. I believe it doesn’t matter whether you write for children or adults you need to get your facts correct. I spend time researching for every book I write.

Other than writing, what else do you love?

I'm a full time writer but in my spare time I dance: jazz, tap, ballet, funk, hip-hop, zumba, contemporary, African, cha, cha, cha, samba, jive, rumba, paso doble, tango, salsa, bachata, merengue, swing, lindy hop, line-dancing and bollywood. This is over many years. My favourite movie is Strictly Ballroom.
I also love to grow sunflowers every year and spend time with my dog.


Have you ever had a fan moment? Tell us about it.

I would not call this a fan moment but enjoyed meeting Bryce Courtenay for the first time when I was a Friend of the National Year of Reading. My first young adult novel had been published and he was full of praise and encouraged me to keep writing.


Do you have any writing rituals you can share?

Sometimes I like to go near the bay with a notebook. I find it a relaxing place to be. Ninety per cent of my writing time is spent at my desk but in my opinion it is lovely to have another space that you can go to as well.

Top tips for writers? 

Get onto social media, you need a profile. The world of being a writer is changing. You need to reach out to your readers.

What is the craziest thing you have done?

I swam with pink dolphins in the Amazon River in South America. Crazy but it was the best experience.

How can we learn more about you? 

      
 

 



    
Thank you for joining In Conversation this week. Remember to always 
Dream Big ... Read Often.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

In Conversation ... with Artelle Lenthall

   

In Conversation with 
Artelle Lenthall


Tell us about your most recent publication. 

My debut picture book STAR was released in September this year. 

Star is small, doesn’t twinkle as a star should and is never gazed upon in delight by anyone! Yet Star is brave and hopeful and resilient. Helped by an angel, Star learns self-belief, patience and trust. 

One night Star discovers something even more important- love. Through Star’s love and compassion for the young woman so close to giving birth, Star finally realises the real reason for its existence; lighting the way; which is more difficult and more beautiful than Star could ever have imagined.

Published by LITTLE PINK DOG BOOKS



What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Surprising myself, by writing something particularly poignant or amusing, or simply a well crafted sentence. If it brings a smile to my face or a tear to my eye, I know it will resonate with others. Being able to communicate that to others or express it for them is what brings joy to the process.

What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

The process: the fact that there isn’t one right way and that different things work for different people. While this can be freeing, it can also be terrifying. Also accepting that the process is slow, incredibly slow, but that this is necessary to produce something to be proud of.

What is the most surprising thing about writing/publishing that you have learnt?

How important networking is and how easy it is to do, as once you have just a little confidence and take the risk of talking to someone you’ll realise what a lovely, supportive, affirming group of people are involved in this industry. Networking is important for becoming known in the industry and enhancing your chances of publication sure, but there’s a lot of us out there trying, so that’s not the most important (or likely) benefit. What networking does is helps you find/build your tribe because writing can be an incredibly lonely pursuit. It does a writer so much good to talk to others who truly understand both the trials and the joys of being a children’s author.

Do you have any writing rituals you can share?

I'm a ‘panstser’, but I usually dwell on an idea for days, weeks sometimes before I put pen to paper and then I write like crazy until it's all down. I write in silence. I also always have one or more of my critique groups look over my work.

Five words that sum you up. 

Shy, easily-distracted, driven, hardworking, kind.

What writing resources would you recommend?

Books- Writing Picture Books by Anne Whitford Paul, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Hero’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Affiliations- WestWords, The Duck Pond, Creative Kids Tales, Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) AWC Writing NSW, CBCA

Ezine's- Buzzwords Magazine, Pass it On

Events- CYA Conference, Writers Unleashed Festival, CKT Festival, KYA Festival, Storyarts Brisbane

Online- StoryStorm, NaPiBoWrWee 12 Days of Christmas with Julie Hedlund

A good writing group, a good bookshop where the staff can recommend books and talk about the industry too, and Aquanotes.

How can we learn more about you? 

 


    
Thank you for joining In Conversation this week. Remember to always 
Dream Big ... Read Often.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

In Conversation ... with Jane Smith

  

In Conversation with 
Jane Smith


Tell us about your most recent publication. 

The Lady with the Lamp is the fourth book in the ‘Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl’ series. The series features a contemporary girl who travels back in time to have adventures with women who changed the world. In this episode, Carly meets Florence Nightingale, otherwise known as ‘the mother of modern nursing’. Carly and her friends Dora and Simone are visiting Simone’s parents in London for a holiday, when they slip back in time the mid-nineteenth century. 

There they meet the young Florence Nightingale on the brink of her nursing career, and later travel with her to the Crimean War to help nurse the sick and wounded soldiers in the military hospital. Through their adventures with the legendary nurse, they come to understand the value of her work, and the true value of courage. It’s full of adventure and danger - and the discomfort of corsets and chamber pots! All the books come with illustrations, a historical note at the end and a mock Q&A with the historical figure.

Published by: BIG SKY PUBLISHING 

Available at: BOOKTOPIA

Carly Mills Website




What do you enjoy most about writing?

Because my books are based on history, I do a lot of research. This means I often contact people all over the world to try to find answers to curly questions. I love that! I also love hearing from readers who have enjoyed the books. Writing is mostly pretty solitary, but the type of contact that it does give me with people is really positive and rewarding, and I think it’s one of the best parts of being a writer.

I also love the freedom to work in my own time and to wear my ugg boots to work on cold days.

Other than writing, what else do you love?

The beach, cats, reading, having coffee with friends, dark chocolate, vigorous massages, old buildings, watching historical dramas on TV in front of the fire on cold nights.



How much research goes into your story?

It depends. For my fiction books like the Carly Mills series, I usually read a few biographies of the historical figure before I start planning the story. Then while I’m writing, sometimes questions pop up that I can’t find answers to in the biographies, and I might need to investigate further. For example, when I was writing a scene for book five, which features Amelia Earhart (coming out next year!), I needed to get a really clear picture in my head about the interior of the old-fashioned plane she flew. Luckily my brother is a pilot, and he was able to answer all my questions and then fact-check my draft! In my non-fiction books, I’ve gone into a lot more depth with my research, consulting primary sources in archives and libraries all over the country and sometimes overseas. (Yes, I’ve even travelled overseas for research purposes – tough gig but someone has to do it!)

Writer's are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives? Are you?

My plots are not really influenced by things that happen in my own life, as I prefer to write about other people’s lives. But some little details from my life sneak in now and then. For example, Carly Mills’ best friend Dora is named after my late cat. And the cat was named after a street I used to live in. I have another series called ‘Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy’, about a boy who goes back in time to have adventures with bushrangers. Tommy likes climbing trees – and I was a big tree-climber as a kid. (I spent most of my childhood in an African tulip tree in our front yard!) So I like to throw in little details like that occasionally just for fun.


What is the most surprising thing about writing/publishing you have learnt? 

I was amazed at how much more work there is after you’ve finished writing the manuscript. Signing the contract is only the beginning. Then there’s the editing, the discussions about design and illustrations and covers, the blurb-writing, the proofreading, and of course the ongoing marketing and promotions. I don’t do all of that myself, of course, but I’m involved in each step. I’m not complaining; it’s all very exciting – especially the design part. But it was quite a surprise!


What writing resources would you recommend?

I recommend you do everything you can to improve your writing skills. That means reading books about writing, joining your state’s writing centre (for me, it’s QLD Writers Centre), joining your local writing group if you have one, and joining Facebook groups in whatever genre you write – and participating actively in them.

A book I’d highly recommend is Self-editing for fiction writers: how to edit yourself into print by Renni Browne & Dave King. Another interesting and helpful one is On writing by Stephen King.

I’d also suggest you read widely in the genre you write - with a critical eye. I don’t mean looking at it negatively; I mean reading analytically, figuring out what works and why, and what doesn’t work and why. It might even help to write your thoughts down. It’s amazing how much that can help you improve your own writing.

How can we learn more about you? 

   
 


    
Thank you for joining In Conversation this week. Remember to always 
Dream Big ... Read Often.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Book Review - The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
By Taylor Jenkins Reid



My Review:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a gripping read about   Hollywood sensation, Evelyn Hugo, and the scandalous life she led. But not all is as the headlines would have her fans believe. This story will keep the reader enthralled from beginning to end, with little time between marriages to catch your breath.

Evelyn is a force to be reckoned with. She knows what she wants, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to get it. Told chronologically to journalist, Monique Grant, the story takes the reader through the life of a 15 year old girl who left the confines on Hells Kitchen on the arms of her new husband and never looked back. 

For Monique, being handpicked to interview the once famous actress but now reclusive woman, is every journalists dream job. Monique meets daily to learn from Evelyn and over time a friendship is formed. But by the end of the task, Monique will wish she had never met Evelyn Hugo.

Taylor Jenkins Reid's writing is like silk. Smooth and flowing, making it impossible to put this book down. It has all the juicy elements of lust, greed and ambition. But it is also filled with longing, sorrow and sadness. My heat ached for Evelyn in many chapters. The title suggests a woman unlucky in love, however, the reality is just as much true as it is false. You will just have to read it to learn what that means!

Strongly recommend you read this adult fiction if you enjoy stories of ambition, strength of character, power and romance.

From the publisher SIMON AND SCHUSTER

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. 
Why her? Why now?



You can check out my other reviews at GOODREADS


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a gripping read about Hollywood sensation, Evelyn Hugo, and the scandalous life she led. But not all is as the headlines would have her fans believe. This story will keep the reader enthralled from beginning to end, with little time between marriages to catch your breath.

Evelyn is a force to be reckoned with. She knows what she wants, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to get it. Told chronologically to journalist, Monique Grant, the story takes the reader through the life of a 15 year old girl who left the confines on Hells Kitchen on the arms of her new husband and never looked back.

For Monique, being handpicked to interview the once famous actress but now reclusive woman, is every journalists dream job. Monique meets daily to learn from Evelyn and over time a friendship is formed. But by the end of the task, Monique will wish she had never met Evelyn Hugo.

Taylor Jenkins Reid's writing is like silk. Smooth and flowing, making it impossible to put this book down. It has all the juicy elements of lust, greed and ambition. But it is also filled with longing, sorrow and sadness. My heat ached for Evelyn in many chapters. The title suggests a woman unlucky in love, however, the reality is just as much true as it is false. You will just have to read it to learn what that means!

Strongly recommend you read this adult fiction if you enjoy stories of ambition, strength of character, power and romance.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Book Review - Girl of the Southern Sea By Michelle Kadarusman

 Girl of the Southern Sea

By Michelle Kadarusman



My Review:

Michelle Kadarusman’s latest novel takes the reader to Indonesia where gifted student, Nia, longs to attend high school and get an education. Instead, she spends her days helping her father run a food cart and raising her younger brother.

Nia graduated middle school and had big dreams to be a writer one day. However, her family is poor and cannot afford the school fees for high school. Nia’s writing dreams are dashed as she is faced with the reality that she must care for her younger brother and help earn money through the family’s food cart. An unexpected change of fortune sets Nia on a path to a different future, but she has to decide if it is the future she wants.

Nia and her family live in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia. Nia’s mother died during the birth of her younger brother. Her father drinks too much, including the profits from their daily takings and stays out late at night. Therefore, it is up to Nia to get her brother to school and make sure the food cart is ready for daily sales. Faced with all these adult responsibilities there is no time or opportunity for Nia to continue with her education. However, when Nia has the time, she enjoys writing stories about a mythical princess that she shares with her brother.

The lives of the people are woven together as they each try to make the best of their situation. The characters in Nia’s daily life subtly show the hardships that surround the everyday people in Nia’s life. They include her best friend Yuli, who also can no longer go to school and helps look after her own brother. The local street vendor, Mumma Tutti, who keeps a close eye out for Nia. Even the bar owner, Jango, who makes money as best he can through liquor sales.

One day Nia’s luck changes unexpectedly. An accident results in Nia escaping without a scratch and the community believing her to have good luck. Her food cart becomes popular, sales rise and a new friend, Oskar, helps to spread the story about her good magic banana fritters. The story of good magic continues but Nia begins to uncover some secrets about her father. Including a secret agreement he made that she is expected to commit to. Things begin to unravel and Nia must draw on all her strength to make grown up decisions that allow her to live the life she wants to live. 

The easy to read narrative and short chapter style encourages the reader to consider adult topics such as responsibility, family, persistence and hard work. Girl of the Southern Sea is particularly suitable for the 12+ age group as it does have some adult themes.

Strongly recommend you read this YA fiction if you enjoy stories of perseverance and persistence.


From the publisher UNIVERSITY QUEENSLAND PRESS

A gifted student, Nia longs to attend high school so she can follow her dream and become a writer. She has notebooks filled with stories she’s created about the mythological Dewi Kadita, Princess of the Southern Sea. But her family has barely enough money for food, let alone an education, so Nia’s days are spent running their food cart and raising her younger brother.

Following a miraculous escape from a bus accident, Nia is gifted with good-luck magic. Or at least that’s what everyone’s saying. Soon their family business is booming and there might even be enough money to return to school. But how long can her good luck last?

When a secret promise threatens everything she’s hoped for, Nia must find a way to break the mould and write her own future.



You can check out my other reviews at GOODREADS

Girl of the Southern SeaGirl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Michelle Kadarusman’s latest novel takes the reader to Indonesia where gifted student, Nia, longs to attend high school and get an education. Instead, she spends her days helping her father run a food cart and raising her younger brother.

Nia graduated middle school and had big dreams to be a writer one day. However, her family is poor and cannot afford the school fees for high school. Nia’s writing dreams are dashed as she is faced with the reality that she must care for her younger brother and help earn money through the family’s food cart. An unexpected change of fortune sets Nia on a path to a different future, but she has to decide if it is the future she wants.

Nia and her family live in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia. Nia’s mother died during the birth of her younger brother. Her father drinks too much, including the profits from their daily takings and stays out late at night. Therefore, it is up to Nia to get her brother to school and make sure the food cart is ready for daily sales. Faced with all these adult responsibilities there is no time or opportunity for Nia to continue with her education. However, when Nia has the time, she enjoys writing stories about a mythical princess that she shares with her brother.

The lives of the people are woven together as they each try to make the best of their situation. The characters in Nia’s daily life subtly show the hardships that surround the everyday people in Nia’s life. They include her best friend Yuli, who also can no longer go to school and helps look after her own brother. The local street vendor, Mumma Tutti, who keeps a close eye out for Nia. Even the bar owner, Jango, who makes money as best he can through liquor sales.

One day Nia’s luck changes unexpectedly. An accident results in Nia escaping without a scratch and the community believing her to have good luck. Her food cart becomes popular, sales rise and a new friend, Oskar, helps to spread the story about her good magic banana fritters. The story of good magic continues but Nia begins to uncover some secrets about her father. Including a secret agreement he made that she is expected to commit to. Things begin to unravel and Nia must draw on all her strength to make grown up decisions that allow her to live the life she wants to live.

The easy to read narrative and short chapter style encourages the reader to consider adult topics such as responsibility, family, persistence and hard work. Girl of the Southern Sea is particularly suitable for the 12+ age group as it does have some adult themes.

View all my reviews


Wednesday, 25 August 2021

In Conversation ... with Sarah Cole

 

In Conversation with 
Sarah Cole


Tell us about your most recent publication. 

My name is Sarah Cole and I have been a public secondary teacher in Geelong for 13 years. I have recently written and published a young adult dystopian fiction text called 'Virozone', It is recommended for ages 12+.

Virozone is available in over 100 bookstores around Australia and NZ. Also in Ebook on Google Play and Apple. You can also order signed copies from my online store WEBSITE

Here is the blurb for Virozone-

The world as we know it has been ravaged by violence and environmental disaster. Society has been split into exclusive zones to protect what little is left. Divided by Air, Water, Soil and Fire, each zone trades what they can to survive. Certainly life is difficult, particularly as a fifth zone, the Prestige Zone, regularly takes what they like to ensure their privileged life continues to thrive.

But when 16 year old Lawlie Pearce’s mother is killed, it becomes clear that the tenuous peace between the zones is on the verge of unravelling. With a thirst for vengeance, Lawlie leaves AirZone to discover the truth and seek justice for her mother - even if she has to bring down the biggest enemy of all, Sceptre, the leader of the Prestige Zone that dominates the world that is Virozone.



Other than writing, what else do you love?

I love being a teacher, working with kids and helping them with their own writing is really fun. I'm also really enjoying being a bookstagrammer on Instagram!

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love the fact that I am in charge of my stories and characters. If I want to create a made up world I can! It's fun!


What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

Easy...it's finding the time! With life, work etc it's tricky to fit it in. But like anything ... if you really want it to happen you just make it work!

Writer's are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives? Are you?

I have been a secondary teacher for 13 years and I really just got sick of kids, mainly girls bringing in books where the female lead character was not strong, brave or gutsy! I knew that I had to create one that was! So I did!

Top tips for writers? 

Just keep reading and writing and it doesn't matter how long it takes, how many rejections you get...if you really want to succeed just make it happen!

Five words that sum you up?

Dedicated, motivated, strong, confident and funny ( I like to think I am LOL!!).

How can we learn more about you? 

   
  



    
Thank you for joining In Conversation this week. Remember to always 
Dream Big ... Read Often.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

In Conversation ... with Nancy Bevington

       

In Conversation with 
Nancy Bevington



This "In Conversation" has been organised in conjunction with 
as a part of the I Wonder campaign.


Tell us about your most recent publication. 

Hi, I'm Nancy Bevington, the illustrator for I Wonder, the fabulous children’s book. I absolutely adored working on this project: Allison Paterson’s story is captivating and well told, and my head was buzzing with ideas from the moment I read it. Although essentially a story about recycling, it is also so much more than that: a sad and happy tale of loss, love, the end of a journey and rebirth. Allison is a hugely talented author, and Big Sky Publishing is an innovative, caring and professional publisher.
Published by BIG SKY PUBLISHING





What do you enjoy most about being an illustrator?

Where to start! From a very young age I enjoyed drawing, so for me this is just the best occupation in the world. I love the challenge of taking a brief or in the case of publishing, a story, and creating illustrations that visually bring the written word to life. Also, it is always exciting and fulfilling to work with authors, publishers and other creative souls.

What is the hardest aspect about being an illustrator?

Time. There are so many wonderful projects out there to work on, but to make sure everything you do meets the high standards you set for yourself, your clients and your authors, you must limit the amount of work you take on.

How much research goes into your illustrations?

Quite a lot of time goes into researching every aspect of a story. It could be the year in which the story is set, its geographic location, the season, the people, the animals. The style and technique chosen for a particular project will then determine how I use what I have found. For example, if I’m working on a very realistic rendering, it is important to look for detail, if the style is simple, it is more important to give a feel for the setting etc.

What is the most surprising thing about illustrating/publishing you have learnt?

That there are so many ways to tell a story.

Other than illustrating, what else do you love?

Being with friends and family, laughter, cooking, gardening, walking by the sea and in the countryside and now my little dog who entered my life only four days ago and seems have been with me forever.

If you had a premonition you would be stranded on a desert island, what five books would you take with you?

I would hope the island had Wi-Fi, so I could access my library as there are too many to mention!


How can we learn more about you? 

     

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!
 

    
Thank you for joining In Conversation this week. Remember to always 
Dream Big ... Read Often.