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

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Scone Writers Festival

The third annual Scone Literary Festival was held this weekend and what a weekend it was. The weather was divine, the hospitality was warm, and the atmosphere was vibrant - perfect for talking books, current and local social issues and anything else that jumped into conversations.

The festival team organised three heavenly days and Kirrili and I were very privileged to be part of two of them.


School Day: Friday, 4th November @ Scone Library

We were invited to entertain almost 80 preschool children on the first day of the festival at Scone Library (which is part of the Upper Hunter Library Network).

We had visited the library during the previous school holidays and we had also presented to older siblings at our recent Coal and Allied sponsored 'Hunter Schools Book Tour'. So it was lovely to hear people were very happy we'd returned as they'd missed seeing us or had heard about us.

We sang songs, read Dandelions, told dandy stores, and drew illustrations lead by Kirrili. We were amazed at the talents these little ones showed us and their enthusiasm for reading.

Photo courtesy of Upper Hunter Shire Council Facebook page
Anne Davies
Anne Davies and Paula Stevenson, festival committee members, supported us, feed us, and made us tea and coffee as we were kept busy entertaining preschoolers for a few hours. They were as excited as the kids!








 


 




After all this fun, I raced down to St Josephs High School, Aberdeen (my old high school) to talk to over 100 Year 7 students about how picture books are made. They are currently studying how to write picture books and will be studying visual literacy in Year 8. It was a challenge going from fun times with 3 and 4 year olds to being very educational with 13 year olds within a few hours of each other. But the afternoon air-conditioning made it very pleasant. It was about 32 degrees outside and Friday afternoon - challenging conditions!

I got a tour of the new buildings afterwards and I caught up with some of the staff still there who had taught me many years ago - I won't reveal exactly how many years or names :)

Main Festival: Sunday, 6th November 
@Scone Arts and Crafts Centre

Sunday was such a lovely, sunny day - perfect for relaxing and attending a literary festival at the Scone Arts and Crafts Centre.

Kirrili and I were on the first panel for the day, titled 'Getting Published: Connecting with Editors'. Kate Mailer, a local solicitor, was our wonderful facilitator and Leonie Rodgers, a local and a published author was our participating chair.

We chatted about the general process of getting published and the role of the editor along the way. We all had different stories to tell and felt we gave a thorough insight into the publishing industry.

 

Leonie Rodgers, Kate Mailer, Kirrili Lonergan and I
Thanks to Hunt-A-Book, Scone for having our book for sale. 




The surroundings were divine. You just had to be there to fully take in the beauty. The shade and relaxed atmosphere made you want to curl up in a hammock with a good book and let the afternoon just glide away.







Yes, we even found dandelions poking out of the lawn.

The food was country style and just scrumptious. We were treated to homemade slices, all you can drink tea/coffee and freshly baked quiche and tossed salad. YUM!


 




Thanks for inviting us to be part of the fun, Scone Literary Festival. 
We'd come back in a heartbeat!

Thanks to Paula Stevenson for the photos of Kirrili and I.
All others are my photography unless otherwise stated.

We hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as we did!


















Monday, 24 October 2016

Author and Illustrator Book Tour - Hunter Valley - October 2016




Kirrili and I embarked on an author and illustrator book tour last week from one end of the beautiful Hunter Valley near Scone to Singleton.

This Coal and Allied sponsored event lets all the schools in the area (public and private) once a year get access to an author or illustrator otherwise out of reach due to isolation or budget restrictions.

A wonderful committee made up of local librarians made magic happen again this year with our visit but not without hours of hard work, hundreds of emails and   
mountains of support from local school communities.

We were hosted by five amazing schools and teaching librarians who have a passion for celebrating books, reading and exposing children to some of the people who help bring books alive - authors and illustrators.

Kirrili and I provided a very informative session that included stories, drawing and games. We had just as much fun as the kids. We may have even taught the adults a few new things :)

Our total audience comprised of nearly 4000 
children from Kindergarten to Year 6 from 20

local schools. One host schools supported us each day while we presented three one hour sessions - anywhere between 200 - 400 children at a time. Our presentation was visual, inspiring, and exciting. Well that's what they told us! 

Thank you to the schools who reorganised school routines, jumped on buses, and behaved so beautifully ready to embrace reading and all it has to offer.




Participating schools:



St Mary's Primary School, Scone
Scone Public School
Scone Grammar School
Blandford Public School
Murrurundi Public School
Muswellbrook Public School
Martindale Public School
Denman Public School
Muswellbrook Christian School
St James Primary School, Muswellbrook
Aberdeen Public School
Muswellbrook South Public School
Sandy Hollow Public School
Singleton heights Public School
Mt Pleasant Public School
Broke Public School
Singleton Public School
King St Public School
Australian Christian College, Singleton
Milbrodale Public School

As you can imagine, Kirrili and I went home absolutely exhausted as we gave everything we had to touch as many children's hearts as possible. I just have to share some of the feedback we have been receiving.



From a participating school:

I wanted to email you to let you know that our school thoroughly enjoyed your presentation on Friday. Thank you so much for being willing to come up to the Hunter Valley and share with us your beautiful book and your journey in publishing it.

From a parent: 

Thank you for enlightening the children from xxx school. My daughter (6) loved your book and she took the time to read it to me one morning with only a small amount of help. It's a terrific book and my daughter was so excited to tell our family all about your visit, she was also excited the illustrator also attended, how wonderful! She had such beautiful stories to share with us. I just wanted to say thank you, the book is a beautiful story!

We spotted remnants of past Coal and Allied presenters hanging on some host school library walls (Terry Denton and David Legge) and heard tales about Frances Watts and Deb Abela - all good stories ladies!

Being able to go into a school as an author after being a primary school teacher is a thrilling thing indeed. It felt like only yesterday I had my own students and I was often reminded last week of the fun things we used to do and the books we used to share and dive into.

I had the rare opportunity to speak to my old primary school. The current Assistant Principal started Kindergarten with me only a few years ago :) During recess and lunch, it was like a reunion. Some of the staff from when I was there are still there, loving the small community. People were coming up to me sharing stories of when I was a student there. The old cricket pitch is still in the playground but there has been so many building improvements it's hard to see the buildings I have fond memories of - but they are there underneath.

I'm still on a high this week after such a mammoth expedition last week, but I'm glad to be back with my family. 

Thanks for hosting us Cecilia, Rose, Lisa, Jenna and Benita!

Thanks to the committee for taking on such an ambitious task of co-ordinating 20 participating schools, 5 host schools, funds, buses, equipment and food. 

Thanks to Coal and Allied who supplied the sponsorship for this annual event. We really appreciated the staff who came along and shared their reading beliefs and watched our presentation.

Kirrili and I will be returning to the area in November as part of the upcoming Scone Literary Festival. We will be having story and drawing fun with local preschool children.


And later that afternoon, I'll be speaking to Year 7 from my old high school about how picture books are made as it links into the Year 8 curriculum. No pressure! I just need to change from book fun with 3, 4 and 5 year olds to being a bit more educational for the 13 year olds - easy! (I think :) )

If you or anyone you know is interested in having Kirrili and I come and present as an author/illustrator team, feel free to contact me. (author@katrinamckelvey.com)

Now time to write more stories ...


3pm on Friday afternoon @ Singleton Public School - mission complete!




Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Sugar and Spice Collection by EK Books - Book Launch


The Sugar and Spice team, Anouska Jones, Penny Harrison, Susan Whelan and Gwynne Jones launched their 'The Sugar and Spice Collection' yesterday at Wallsend Library which was published by EK Books.

  

Firstly, Penny shared her story, Dance With Me by giving us a sneak peek into the storyline.
Anouska followed by introducing her book, Patch and Ruby.
Susan then gave us a hint about where missing socks go in The Great Sock Secret.
All three titles where illustrated by the very talented Gywnne Jones.

Gwynne, Susan, Anouska, Penny, Deborah (MC)
After a few thank yous from the girls, we got to dive into yummy orange and pink treats while the girls signed copies of their new books.



 







Gwynne had to sign three times faster than the rest!



While all this was happening, the kids could get creative completing glittery craft activities.


MacLean's Booksellers, Hamilton were there to help everyone 
get their hands on this stunningly colourful box set.


After some eating, drinking, crafting, signing and talking, 
Penny, Anouska and Susan snuggled in to read their stories. 

  

Gwynne roamed the room drawing special requests. My Lara asked for a 
garden full of bugs. Very Spring of her! I wonder where she got that idea from? 
(read yesterday's blog for the answer)

  

Congratulations lovely ladies! These stories are delightful. 
How lucky were we to have all of you together for this celebration. 

Penny Harrison, Anouska Jones, Gwynne Jones, Susan Whelan

Books can be purchased via the EK Books website,
any good book store or online bookseller.