My life as a children's author while juggling being a mum, a wife and professional volunteer. (Sometimes it gets complicated)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Book Launch: 'Jam for Nana' by Deborah Kelly and Lisa Stewart


Author Deborah Kelly launched her beautiful new picture book ‘Jam for Nana’ at Belmont Library on Saturday morning, 29th March.


More than 100 grandparents, parents, librarians, family members and book lovers came to celebrate a beautiful story about pancakes, jam, and family.


Deborah spoke about how her Nana had to leave Hungary because of war and how her Nana loved to make and eat real apricot jam.  Deborah recalled how her Nana taught her to spread jam on a pancake using the back of a spoon before sprinkling it with icing sugar. The pancake was then rolled before eating.


Deborah read ‘Jam for Nana’ aloud to the children. You couldn’t hear a sound because the children were captured by the story.



Belmont library created a display of the original illustrations by ‘Jam for Nana’ illustrator, Lisa Stewart. Her intricate drawings and collaging were very interesting to examine up close.




After Deborah read her story, she invited the children, big and small, to come and spread homemade apricot jam onto homemade pancakes using the back of a spoon. Icing sugar accompanied these delicious treats. I’m sure most people couldn’t eat just one! There was not a pancake left.



I loved how Deborah used the colours of yellow and orange from apricots and sunshine to decorate the room.


Licking sticky fingers and eating jam and sugar made for lots of fun, but I’m sure the library staff were quietly hoping the children didn’t touch every book on the shelves that bordered the space.


 
Well done, Deb! You have worked so hard to present a beautiful story that has come from the heart. As a person who spent a lot of my childhood at my grandmother’s house, I can relate to home cooked sweet treats made with love. You have given a story to the world that is warm and special. I’m sure there will be lots of grandparents who will read this book to their grandchildren at bedtime. I’m guessing the grandchildren will ask for pancakes and jam for breakfast when they wake up!


Friday, 21 March 2014

Book Launch: 'Lessons of a LAC' by Lynn Jenkins and Kirrili Lonergan

A touch of shabby chic mixed with red, white and yellow d├ęcor set the perfect scene for Lynn Jenkins and Kirrili Lonergan to launch their new picture book, ‘Lessons of a LAC’ this morning.


Friends, family, colleagues, locals and strangers filled Lynn’s business space to hear how and why two picture book characters came to life.

Lessons of a LAC’ is a picture book 'resource tool' featuring two amazing creatures, Loppy and Curly, who help children understand anxiety.



After Lynn and Kirrili's book was written, edited, illustrated, printed and delivered (an 18 month long journey), they excitedly organised their book launch. The planning was evident instantly as you wandered around the room. The girls used the colours of Loppy and Curly to influence the theme. The attention to detail was incredible and the room looked magnificent.




Natasha Beyersdorf read the story as Kirrili and Lynn used puppets to act it out. The room was silent as every child was engaged and entertained throughout the performance.





After the formalities ended, I was roughly nudged out of the way as the race to the singing table began. The girls must have felt like movie starts as the line appeared, with each person holding a copy of their book under their arm. All the hard work of the last 18 months had led to this – a moment of pride and well-deserved public recognition.


Congratulations to Lynn for writing such a necessary picture book about anxiety for the very young in our society, in our families, and in our classrooms. You have people talking about a very serious topic. This conversation could lead to saving a child’s life.


Congratulations my beautiful friend, Kirrili! You are so passionate about children and you are so talented too. The whole world knows it now.

It has been a pleasure watching you work through the process of illustrating your first picture book. You are amazing. Enjoy the ride this book brings!


 

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Adventures and Misadventures of Starting My Blog

Blogging looks fun! It’s trendy, effective, and a great way to connect with people – strangers, friends and family.

The thought of having an internet space where I could entertain and educate readers while practising the craft of writing sounded glamorous. I always found using new forms of technology exciting. I thought setting up a blog and adding my first post would be easy.

WRONG! (for me anyway!)

I have been given advice by many publishing industry professionals to blog. So I started reading and following a few blogs by other children’s authors and illustrators. Their blog pages looked lovely. The more I read them, the more my confidence grew.

Last year I went through the process of working with a website designer to build my website. My website designer very carefully took me on the journey of going behind a website and learning how it is built. Very complicated things were explained to me – I probably understood a fraction of it. However, I still felt I knew enough to build a blog.

'To Do' List
After having ‘blog (HWC)?’ on my ‘To Do’ list for over twelve months, I found a blogging course through the Hunter Writers’ Centre. Three panelists presented a wonderful workshop on the anatomy of a blog, why blog, what to blog about, who to blog for, how to build a community of followers, craft writing for a blog, and technical challenges and tips.

This all seemed easy and made a lot of sense. I went home feeling energised and inspired to build my blog. This is when the real fun (and a million questions) started!

Structure - What do I want to add? Which template? What’s a Gadget? What is a Widget? How many do I need? What will my tag line say? Customisation? How do I organise my information? How do I organise my privacy settings?

Navigating ‘blogger’ – what is a dashboard? How can I make my blog reflect my personality and achieve its purpose? Hang on - What is my purpose? How do I use this new program? Where is the delete button? Why did it do that? How do I go back? Why are there 3 search bars?

HELP!!!

I think I now need a workshop in actually building my blog. I had the idea I would just magically find a blog waiting for me somewhere on the web and all I had to do was start typing.

WOW! I was wrong again!

After spending a few days playing and wandering aimlessly around ‘blogger’, I resorted to ringing my website designer. After 20 minutes of following her instructions, my blog started looking similar to the vision I had in my head. Why didn’t I ring her two days earlier?

A week later I organised a one-on-one session with a friend, an avid blogger. We sat together with a cup of tea and nutted out my final questions while looking at our blogs side-by-side. It all makes sense when you have a personal blogging mentor. (She even helped me label, format and publish this post.)

I have spoken to many bloggers in the last few weeks. We have had lots of laughs and shared tips on building a blog. These conversations helped me feel much better. All of them have had, and are still experiencing blogging challenges. Phew – it’s not just me!

You are reading this post on a functioning blog. The background matches my website pages, my heading and colours are customised (it is so exhausting being a perfectionist), and I have some gadgets going down the left and right-hand side. This is a work in progress.

I’m still learning about labels and formatting. I also have no idea how I want to archive my posts. But I like the idea I have started, and I can change how it’s structured when I’m ready. (Note to oneself: sort out your layout before you go and customise everything!)

I hope you will come on this blogging journey with me. I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures with like-minded people who are interested in how I develop as a children’s author while juggling the rest of my life. 

Blogging still seems like fun now I have some of the scaffolding sorted. Hopefully something drastic like it completely disappearing won’t happen. But that’s a problem for another day.

Feel free to leave a comment or suggestions.

Here we go…