the blog

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

This is Captain Cook!

I've long dreamed of a picture book series on famous Australians, and around four years ago, was fortunate to be able to approach the National Library with this idea--a series of picture books for the very young.

I was quickly set to work on some other picture books, like Australian Story, Eco Warriors and Australian Kids Through the Years (out September), but along the way, my idea for a picture book on Captain Cook took shape, and I'm beyond thrilled to officially reveal the cover of This is Captain Cook! out this March.

Illustrated by the amazing (and my dear friend) Christina Booth, this book has been the most glorious collaboration and is something I'm really proud of. It just goes to show that when you hold a dream in hand, you CAN make it happen.

Here is the book's official blurb:

Captain James Cook loved to sail. He loved making maps (he was very good at it, too) and he particularly loved shiny buttons. In this charming picture book, little ones can celebrate the life of a great mariner and true adventurer.

Join Miss Batts and her class as they tell the story of Captain Cook with a humorous and whimsical school play that’s sure to engage the very young. We see the class act out the story of Cook: as a boy watching ships on the horizon, sailing to Canada, then to Tahiti and on to New South Wales (spot the escaping chicken in each of the scenes!). Kids will discover that Captain Cook was the first European to cross the Antarctic Circle and they’ll also learn that on his final journey, he never came home again.

Parents, carers and teachers will smile at the familiar set-up of the chaotic school play and the inventive props, and enjoy eavesdropping on the audience as they interact with the performance. At the back of the book, walk through ‘Cook’s Gallery’ and see real life paintings of Cook, his ship and his travels.

I'm also thrilled to reveal that the book has already sold out and is in its second print run, even before publication! If you live in Canberra, you'll be able to snaffle a copy from the National Library Bookshop from 1 February, and the book will be all over Australia from 1 March 2015.

Be sure to watch this space for news on a book launch, too!

Happy sailing!

Friday, 2 January 2015

A New Year - A New You

It's so typical, right? With a brand new year comes the desire for a Brand New direction. Improvement. Connection. Doing what we love. Finally setting our feet on the right path. Doing something for Ourselves.

It's only early days and I've already made significant changes for 2015--most of them deeply internal--new ways of thinking about myself and my place in the world. If I really think about it, these shifts are infinitesimally small, but isn't it the smallest things that often have the most impact?

I've been ready for a consciousness shift for a very long time now and I do believe these internal shifts absolutely shape our outside world. If you are, like me, keen to make some shifts towards greater clarity, direction and life purpose ... if you are desperate to reconnect with a long-missing or directionless creative passion, the new year is a perfect time to take action, when energy is fresh and new.

I wrote The Fantastical Flying Creator last year after receiving countless questions and requests for advice and insider info on the book industry and the world of writing and illustrating. In this downloadable PDF workshop, I've combined four of my most popular real-life workshops and have added another 200 pages of content--a combination of inspiration, priceless information and exercises (over 70 of them!) that will have your creative energy zinging.

Much of the content will suit all kinds of creators, but there is extra content for authors and illustrators. It would suit both new and established creators.

To celebrate a reconnection to our creative selves for the new year, I'm offering the Flying Creator for just $79 (normally $120) but only for the month of January. Get in quick for this comprehensive tool that will help you set foot on your path of creative flow.

For some testimonials, detailed information on content, a free sample and purchasing info, click right here.

Happy new year! Get ready to soar.

'...I started your e-workshop yesterday and am powering through to page 93. I've taken action, contacted important people, refined my daily schedule, have made more commitments to myself. And am even trialling standing up at my computer!!! I've made a list of literary awards, grants, festivals and have uncovered a limiting self-belief towards my writing - so ready to blast that out pronto!! Watch this space because my 10 year dedication is hitting a whole new level of passion and FOCUS! Thanks for creating this! LOVE...' - Lee-Anne Peters, Temple of Balance

'Oh how I wish this had been around when I was starting out.' - author Jen Storer 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

So long, 2014 ...

2014 was a bag of mixed lollies for me.

Sometimes sweet, sometimes exhilarating and sometimes, like the deepest cavity, immensely painful.

At times I wished the year away, but a surprising calm has come over me as the year release its grip ... I have come through to the other end feeling {despite some truly momentous life difficulties} happy. I feel I can look back and grasp all the joys with full gratitude, for these joys, even in the smallest ways, have outshone all the hardships.

2014 was a year of spiritual introspection, of looking inward and feeling the full impact of my past, my future and my belief {and disbelief} in humanity. It was a year of destruction and breaking things down in many, many ways, but it was also a year of reconnection, of rebuilding on a more solid foundation and redefining a brand new life direction.

All in all, it's been a miraculous year--not easy, but certainly life-changing. For the better. Sometimes we need to go through difficulty to understand exactly how fortunate we are.

Along with some wonderful career achievements and rewarding friendship connections, my greatest wins this year have been in regard to health and creativity. Aligning with these life forces so deeply has cut a brand new path for me and my family--a path I feel I've been waiting a lifetime to walk on. Finally, I feel I've entered The Flow and I've never been more excited about what lies ahead. For me, it will be a year of Focus, Earthing, Productivity and Calm.

I hope you can look back at 2014 with much fondness, seeking the beauty and precious moments in a relatively trying year for many. And I hope that 2015 is a year of reconnection for you, in even the smallest ways. I hope the next twelve months shine a light on Graciousness over Industry, Connection over Networking, Listening over Speaking, Groundedness over Faffing, Depth over Winning, Gratitude over Want.

As you move through the following 12 months, lovely readers, stand strong, seek out beauty, express gratitude daily {for it truly, truly is the key to happiness}, do what you love and what makes you smile. Heed that mantra:

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy. 

And remember, above all else: never let anyone dull your shine.

My 2014 in Instagram Pictures













Thursday, 18 December 2014

#illo52weeks - Week 52: FIREWORKS

watercolour and fine liner

The end to an absolutely incredible year--the 52-Week Illustration Challenge for 2014--has ended with a bang ... FIREWORKS!

I don't even know what to say about the Challenge and this phenomenally creative year.

What started with this ...

Week 1: EGGS

... and a desire to reconnect with my art, became a life-changing experience. My latent drawing skills have improved exponentially this year, proving that practice really is a phenomenal skill-building tool. And I'm now closer than ever to my dream of illustrating some of my own books.

But my illustrating is only one thing. There's more.

When I first wrote about this self-challenge on my blog, I never, in a kabillion years, expected it to become more than a little art project--mostly on my lonesome, maybe with two or three author/illustrator friends joining in.

When a friend suggested I create a Facebook group--well, the rest is history. The Challenge is now a phenomenally supportive creative community that has forged true friendships, collaborations, working opportunities ... and it's even changed lives.

The group now has over 2.5K contributing members, an admin team of 12 and has enjoyed countless local and international artistic opportunities. Contracts have been signed, art has been exhibited, books are in the works (including my book with Jess Racklyeft--Smile Cry--out 2016), people have left full time work to create full time, and we'll even be exhibiting in Perth (with Arts Brookfield) in March 2015. Learn more about this here.

Our Challenge Blog features weekly picks, fabulous tutorials from amazing artists, and a series of testimonials (put together by the amazing Nicky Johnston) that will have you either reaching for the tissues or running for your paintbox, busting with inspiration.

And the very best news of all is that the Challenge will run again in 2015, with our new themes, chosen by members, right here.

I want to thank my amazing admin team who have become dear friends--these amazing women have so much dedication and talent--it makes my head reel. My partner in creativity--Nicky Johnston, and also these amazing girls--most of whom I never knew before the Challenge began ... Natalie Daniel, Odette Teerink, Leonie Cheetham, Heidi Cooper, Penny Fisher, Jess Racklyeft, Lisa-Marie Kerr, Sally Fawcett, Sophie Pittaway and Patricia Ward. It's been a joy getting to know these girls and I so look forward to our future together!

I also want to thank two very special girls--Dee White and Sheryl Gwyther--for inspiring me to return to my art. It's been a very long time since I picked up a paint brush and the joy it's brought me is indescribable. I feel like my entire world has changed and I'm so excited about the impossibly shiny future--doing what I love.

I hope you, dear reader, can do the same.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

An Aussie Year wins ACT Writing and Publishing Award for Children's Book

with my beautiful Ella

So happy to share some news--An Aussie Year has won the ACT Writers Centre Writing and Publishing Awards for children's book!

This was a true labour of love, and the first picture book I worked on with my darling friend Tina Snerling. I'm so proud of this book!

Thank you, ACT Writers Centre, and EK Books and Anouska and Tina. I'd like to thank my mum... my family... my friends...




Saturday, 13 December 2014

Friday, 12 December 2014

Highly Commended for Picture Book Illustration

I was absolutely thrilled to learn I've received a Highly Commended nod for illustrations for my picture book When I Was Little. This is for the Australian Society of Authors' Emerging Illustrator Mentorships and in fact, I was the only person to receive an award for picture book illustration.

Illustrating my own picture books has been a lifelong dream. It's all quite surreal--and means the world to me because it's confirmation I'm heading in the right direction.

Thank you, ASA!

#illo52weeks - Week 48: FOX

watercolour, white pen and fine liner

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

An Aussie Year Shortlisted for the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards 2014

So excited to see An Aussie Year receive this shortlisting nod for the ACT Writers Centre's Writing and Publishing Awards 2014. Winners will be announced at the Christmas party on Tuesday 16 December, so fingers crossed! Good luck to my colleagues Joy and Maree, too!

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