Over on the Ten Tiny Things blog, we’ve taken a break from our (ir)regularly scheduled tinies to bring you some news of the not-so-tiny kind …
Ten Tiny Things has just been announced as the winner of the Australia/New Zealand division of the SCBWI 2013 Crystal Kite Award!
The Crystal Kite Award is peer-voted by members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a global organisation to which I have belonged for many years.
I’ve been thrilled to have Candlewick Press pick up some of my work for US publication over the last year. There are all sorts of reasons why this is a good thing for me professionally, and those probably go without saying.
Lately, though, I’ve been on the receiving end of some more unexpected benefits. Letters! Actual letters coming to me from kids in the US. I get a bit of mail from kids here in Australia, but contact often tends to come via email. I’m not sure why that might be; perhaps there’s something exciting about the idea of picking up an actual pen (or texta) and sending a letter across the world. I know I’ve been having lots of fun writing back.
Yes, I know he isn’t exactly Mr Curly. That would be like saying I’m Ruby, or Cassie, or possibly even Max.
But last weekend at the Perth Writers Festival, I met the maker of Mr Curly and of many things duckish and otherly delightful – Michael Leunig. I’ve made no secret of the fact that the original inspiration for Duck for a Day came from an interview Leunig did with Andrew Denton, but beyond that, I’ve been a long-time fan of Leunig’s work, which my father shared with me from a very early age. The corkboard above this very desk is dotted with tattered Leunig cartoons, snipped from newspapers here and there over the years.
Last year I was lucky enough to do some work with TravelSmart, who used my picture book Ten Tiny Things as part of their TravelSmart to School program.
At the end of the year, schools who have been involved in the program send student representatives along to an awards day where everyone shares the ways in which they’ve put the TravelSmart message into practice in their school community. I was invited to attend this event and deliver a workshop for the kids which teachers and other accompanying adults could then take back into schools and adapt/extend for a larger group.
During the morning, the kids did a few preliminary activities using images from the Ten Tiny Things blog. They were asked to write a caption or a description of what they saw happening in the pictures. Check out some of the things they came up with below:
Today, an unexpected thing has happened. For the first time in weeks I have a couple of clear hours in which to get some writing done. I’m going to get right on that. There is a novel to finish, and then rewrite from the ground up.
But because it’s a shock to be suddenly presented with writing time, I had to settle my nerves by doing a little procrastinating first. So I decided to make a word cloud for No Bears. I thought it would be amusing. I thought I would simply get one giant word – BEARS – blocking out everything else.
Instead, I got this …
Huh. Turns out that book really isn’t about bears after all. I guess sometimes the writer is the last to know.
I do like word clouds. They’re fun. But also kind of pointless. Which is why I have allowed myself just one. And now I am off, to get.this.elusive.novel.done.
… about the Ten Tiny Things launch.
1. It was held in the State Library, at “The Place”, to which all visitors are greeted by a welcoming book-themed cow.
2. It featured many foods of the tiny variety – sushi, tiny teddies, and other teeny delicacies. In keeping with the theme, we understand they were gone in the tiniest blink of an eye.
3. Award-winning illustrator and known rabble rouser Frané Lessac launched the book with a DIY rocket launcher, propelling it unwittingly into the arms of Meg’s daughter, the original inspiration for the book.
… where I tell you I’ve been busy.
And where I use the cunning technique of splitting the first sentence in order to form a pointlessly catchy title for the post. A title that tells you nothing much at all. A title that if it tells you anything, tells you that this is going to be one of those shapeless, formless catch-up posts that people who are fond of articles with titles like “Ten Top Tips For Terrific Blogging” are so appalled by.
So I’ve been busy – busy being hard on myself for not having finished the novel I began so-called ‘fast-drafting’ at the beginning of the year. Apparently for me, fast drafting means an average of about 12.6 words a day. Which are then thrown out the next day, to be replaced by 12.6 possibly better ones.
But then I’ve been busy remembering that I have three books coming out in the US this year (No Bears, Duck for a Day, and Surface Tension, now known as Below, about which I shall write a vastly more terrific post at a later date), and two in Australia (Ten Tiny Things, Wreck the Halls, about which, terrific-ness, also later). And that I have in fact been occupied rewriting and copy-editing and proofreading and visiting schools and libraries and conferences and answering interview questions and doing promotional stuff here and there and everywhere and the many, many other bits and pieces associated with what it means to have five books coming out in the same year.
If you are a regular reader of this not-at-all regular blog, you will know that I’ve written before about my fascination with ‘creative coincidences’, the way in which writers will sometimes alight upon the same idea at the same time for no apparent reason, or a rash of books with similar themes or settings will appear within a short space of time.
Those original posts were prompted by my then-recent discovery that a book covering ground similar to my junior novel Surface Tension had just come out in the US. As is the way of these things, I’ve more recently discovered that another book with the same setting – of a town ‘drowned’ to make way for a reservoir – came out late last year in Canada. I became aware of this while idly Googling the phrase “The Town That Drowned”, which was high on my list of possible titles for the US publication of Surface Tension, scheduled for later this year. Yes, that sound you hear is the gnashing of teeth. Yes, the title of the Canadian book, which looks absolutely gorgeous and has been shortlisted for a slew of awards, is The Town That Drowned. On a blog I read while surfing around gnashing my teeth, someone even commented that the ‘drowned town’ idea is ‘becoming something of a theme in Canadian literature’.
My friends, you cannot escape the zeitgeist.