It’s been a busy few days. It began on Friday morning when I sat bolt upright at 3am and realised the year was drawing to a close and my annual carbon footprint was altogether too small.
Happily, this was easily remedied. I rolled out of bed and drove immediately to Perth airport. I flew across the country and all the way up to Brisbane. Then I drove to a hotel, stayed overnight, and at the crack of dawn, flew home to Perth again. And just like that, I was back on track.
While I was in Brisbane, a ridiculous thing happened, and it looked a bit like this:
A Single Stone was announced as the winner of the Griffith University Children’s Book Award at the Queensland Literary Awards!
When the last copy was edited and the last proof was read and A Single Stonewas finally off to the printers, I turned to my husband and said, “Well, that’s about as Bruce Willis as I get.”
He knew what I was talking about because he’d heard me muttering and ranting a lot during the writing process – Yes, but what actually *happens*?Raise the stakes! Back story over steaming broth is not a chapter!
And so on.
Things happen in A Single Stone. It contains actual plot. This may sound ridiculous, but for me, forward narrative movement is the hardest thing of all. I like to sit in the small moments – as a reader and a writer … as a person, those are what I’m most interested in. As silly as it sounds, I have to remind myself that things do need to happen in the story – and not just inside my characters’ heads. Hence the muttering and ranting. Hence my self-satisfied glow when I thought about the cracking pace and tension and high-stakes plot points I had finally managed to achieve in this book. I am fast-paced action thriller – HEAR ME ROAR!
Hence my wry smile when reviews started coming in on Goodreads:
A beautifully written, quiet adventure …
This was a slow-burning, unputdownable delight.
In a way, it moves quite slowly but I couldn’t put it down.
Quiet. Slow. No matter what I do, these words follow me. And even though I don’t seem to have much choice in the matter, the truth is that I’m quite happy to own them.
Bella and the Wandering House, junior fiction for ages 6-10-ish, will be out this September from Fremantle Press, with gorgeous illustrations by Nicholas Schafer. I’m thrilled to have this story finally stepping out into the world …
We gathered, we laughed, we launched! I’m delighted (so very delighted, Amanda Betts!) to announce that the official launch of A Single Stone went off swimmingly on Thursday, 7 May.
Against the backdrop of a stunning Fremantle sunset at Kidogo Arthouse on Bathers Beach, a lovely host of friends, colleagues, and other possibly-soon-to-be-one-of-those-things folk ate, drank and were generally merry as Amanda (AJ) Betts launched the book in characteristically hilarious style.
After my last post, someone said to me – in a friendly way – that they were surprised to see me jumping on the dystopian bandwagon and wasn’t that kind of over already anyway?
Me being myself, my first thought was Hmm, I wonder what a dystopian bandwagon would look like? Would the wheels be falling off? What would they be made of? Where would it be going and would you need a ticket to ride?
Me still being myself, my second thought was Actually, where does that idiom come from, anyway? [For those interested, Theodore Roosevelt, apparently]
Finally, I laughed. Because the thing is – writing-wise, I’m completely incapable of jumping on any moving vehicle. On any moving anything, actually. Including, probably, snails.
Back in May, I mentioned that I was diving into revisions on a new book. Back then, my working title was “Set In Stone”, but that has since been set aside in favour of something more fabulous, about which more later. I probably should have known better than to tempt fate with such a dogmatic title in the first place. My next WIP is going to be entitled, “Don’t Change a Word”.
The last few months have seen me dipping in and out of that manuscript as needed, in the midst of various other bits and pieces including Book Week and its many joys.
Just yesterday, I moved the latest draft off my desk and back onto my editor’s. There is more work to be done, but with each round, the scale diminishes. Eventually the spiral of revisions will narrow to the finest of points before finally disappearing, and the book will move into the hands of others.
At least that’s what the shops seem to think. Personally, I wish they would hold off just a little longer, or possibly entirely.
But this year I can hardly complain because I seem to have become part of it in some small sense. Because despite having only just recovered from the launch and associated promotional madness of “matt new book” (aka Ten Tiny Things), I am here to announce the publication of my latest shiny new book, which is decidedly and inescapably Christmassy.
It’s called Wreck the Halls, and it’s my latest contribution to Walker Books’ Lightning Strikes series. It seems I have accidentally written a trilogy of sorts, as this is the third book to feature the adventures of the hapless Nathan, Ronnie, and Weasel, who readers came to know and roll their eyes at in Going for Broke and The Big Dig.
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.
Usually at this point, I would say ‘shiny new book’, but this book isn’t actually shiny, at least outside my mind. Perhaps I might call it a ‘matt new book’, in a nod to the illustration style and the paper stock, which are very distinctive.
In any case, it’s a new picture book, publishing August 1st and launching very soon. And in the spirit of things, here are Ten Tiny Things about it:
1. The Blurb It was a red thing. It was a sparkly thing. It was a tiny, tiny thing
Tessa and Zachary have a machine that is swift and splendiferous. Every day it carries them from here to there and back again in cool calm comfort. But one morning, the machine breaks down. Tessa and Zachary are forced to venture into the world beyond its metal walls – a place of secret somethings and hidden happenings. Getting from here to there may never be the same …