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

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

'Dandelions' is available now!




Happy Publication Day to 

'Dandelions'



We hope our beautiful story travels the world, tickles imaginations and 
warms hearts wherever it goes, the same way dandelions do in nature.

It has been a long time coming for us, but we are so excited to finally say, 

'Dandelions' is available to everyone!'

There are too many people to thank, and we have plans to do this at our 
launch on the 31st of October at Newcastle Library. We are so grateful 
for the opportunity to share something special with the whole wide world. 


The EK Books publishing team has been outstanding. They have been so supportive of 
our story and our author/illustrator relationship every step of the way. Every so often we 
all hear stories of unfortunate publishing experiences in our industry, but we are proud to say the EK Books team has been a pleasure to work with. Kirrili and I have learnt so 
much, and we have been included in so many decisions throughout the entire process. 
We have been so fortunate!
www.ekbooks.com.au

If you want a sneak peak of our book, please go and view our 


Making this book trailer was a lot of fun. I had to do lots of learning along the way, but I'm pleased with the end result. I was inspired and impressed by how Tristan Bancks makes trailers for his children's books. I got to be very creative with the help of technology! 
I get very envious of how clever and creative illustrators are because I can't even draw a polar bear in a snow storm.

If you get your hands on a copy of our book, we would love to hear what you think. 

You can also visit:


for more information about us, teaching notes, where to purchase our book, 
and other fun and interesting stuff.

And a final thought from us ...

'Few things leave a deeper mark on the reader, 
than the first book that finds its way to his heart' 
~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon

We hope you enjoy, Dandelions


Katrina and Kirrili







Monday, 28 September 2015

Dandelions ~ Author and Illustrator Interview



So, Dandelions will be released this Thursday, 1st October.

YES - THIS THURSDAY! Yay! 

(Happy Dance here)

The publishing team has been working very hard behind the scenes 
to launch this book in style. But we thought you may like to know a 
little more about some of its creators.

Here is an excerpt from the Dandelions Teaching Notes
It is an author and illustrator interview which gives you a 
little more information about the story behind our story.

The full set of teaching notes can be found here.

~

AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Katrina McKelvey

1. What was the inspiration for the story?

As a toddler, Lara, my daughter used to climb in gardens and gutters to pick dandelion seed heads on the way to preschool. She would then ask me to help her blow them apart. I soon became guilty about digging out dandelion plants as they grew in our lawn. I wanted Lara to be able to pick them in our lawn instead of the gutter. Then I wondered how Lara would react if she knew her dad was mowing the dandelion plants flat.

I was also fascinated by whether people had connected blowing dandelion puff balls with spreading their seeds. The dandelion seed head is so beautiful - one of nature’s amazing creations.

2. What was the most rewarding part of this project?

I’m absolutely in love with dandelions. I love the colour of the flowers and the perfect formation of the seed head. I’m so lucky as I get to write about them and photograph them. Watching Kirrili paint them and bring them to life in our picture book was such a rewarding experience. I see them everywhere now and I want the world to see just how beautiful 
they are.

3. What was the most challenging part of this project?

It took four years from when I started writing the story until I had a published book in my hands so the waiting was the hardest. I can be very impatient!

It was also very challenging to break my main character's heart. I cried as I created the beginning of the story. It felt like I had broken my own daughter’s heart.


ILLUSTRATOR INTERVIEW - Kirrili Lonergan

1. What media did you use to create your illustrations? Can you briefly describe your process?

I used mixed media, prodominently gouache, with pastels and ink.

Firstly, I played around a lot with the roughs paying special attention to the positioning and feelings of the characters. I then painted characters, the scenery and the background in hues to reflect the changing colours of the sky on a spring day. Lastly, I layered and played with pastels and ink until the desired softness was achieved.

2. What was the most rewarding part of this project?

The most rewarding part was airbrushing all the dandelion seeds.

Just prior to the deadline of when the illustrations were due to the publisher, a huge storm hit Newcastle leaving us without electricity. With a small torch strapped to my forehead I sat in my studio till the wee hours of the morning. With complete darkness surrounding me the torchlight illuminated every little white parachute. I sat and airbrushed until each spread appeared to be balanced.

3. What was the most challenging part of this project?


The most challenging part of the illustrations was to replicate the little girl's dress on 
each spread.

~

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about us. 



Katrina and Kirrili



Tuesday, 1 September 2015

CBCA NSW Inc. Northern Sydney Sub-branch 'Lunch with the Stars' Event

I was invited to participate as a 'star' in the CBCA NSW Inc. Northern Sydney Sub-branch's annual

Lunch with the Stars! 

I didn't realise how lucky I was until it all unfolded yesterday.

Mark Thomason, Serena Geddes, Kate Forsyth, Paul Russell, Belinda Murrell, Wendy Fitzgerald, Kaz Delaney, P.J Tierney, Oliver Phommavanh, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, Tonya Alexander, Jacqueline Harvey, Andrew Cranna, Debra Tidball, Yvette Poshoglian, Katrina McKelvey, Jill B. Bruce.
(Absent from photo: Jess Black, Wendy Blaxland, Susanne Gervay, Lesley Gibbes, Jan Latta)
For this extraordinary event to happen, it took a combination of the following things:

Belinda Murrell - event founder, organiser, and key speaker
Wendy Fitzgerald, president of the Northern Sydney Sub-branch and her sub-branch team
The Grand Hall of the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS)
A stunning day in Manly
22 authors and illustrators
23 tables of children
200+ children, teachers, and librarians and 
5 Room to Read ambassadors and Zac the Yak


Tables dotted the room with decorations just waiting for the children to surround them.


Event booklets were placed everywhere so children could study their favourite 
participating authors and illustrators and learn about some new ones.



 I had the most amazing honour of sharing my table with 
children from Stewart House. 

From their website:

Every year 1,800 public school children attend our safe haven next to Curl Curl beach at no cost to their parents or carers.  During a 12 day stay they are provided with dental, optical, hearing and medical screening and treatment. 

Children participate in educational programs and excursions designed to develop their social and emotional skills, build self-esteem and improve their overall well-being.  

This experience provides children with a much needed break from their current circumstance.  Our children are inspired to see beyond the present and to have real hope and positive aspirations for their future. 

Children in the care of Stewart House attend a specific purpose school onsite for 8 days of their 12-day stay.   The NSW Department of Education and Communities provides infrastructure and staffing support for this school.

These children were also gifted a new book of their choice from the Northern Sydney Sub-branch.


 Once the buzzing room settled, Belinda Murrell spoke of her life, family 
and writing career. She was very animated, interesting and inspiring.


Then Room to Read ambassadors Belinda Murrell, Jacqueline Harvey, Oliver Phommavanh, Kate Forsyth, and Susanne Gervay promoted the Room to Read project with some help from Zac the Yak! 

http://www.roomtoread.org/Australasia


Then illustrator, Andrew Cranna, creator of 'The Bloodhound Boys', sent the room 
in a spin with crazy illustration challenges. The kids had a blast doing these.


Lunch was served soon after. We were very hungry after so much fun.

Following lunch, the children made a mad scramble to the book shop and book creators for autographs. I've never signed my name so many times in such a short amount of time. 
I sure felt like a 'star'!


 A few familiar book friends made an appearance as well. 
I would love to have the same travelling schedule as these three ladies!



What a privilege it was to share my new yet-to-be-released book, Dandelions (one month to go!), 
writing journey and writing tips with such beautiful children at this truly grand event. 
It will go down as a very memorable one for me.

I find it hard to describe how I felt with all these clever children in such a grand building 
and in such a special location. I would definitely jump at the opportunity to do it all again 
- including the 4:45am get-up and journey to and from Newcastle!



 Congratulations to the organising team from the CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch. 
It always takes a team of people to make an event this size successful. 

I hope we can make the CBCA Newcastle 'Lunch with the Stars' event in November just as amazing.