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Category Archives: grief

Part II – Journey of a Book – setting up, hanging in there

The set up, which I thought would only take an hour, stretched to all morning. Coordinating the set up of an exhibition this size with so many ‘exhibitors’ had Michelle Richards, the Brisbane Central Library’s exhibition coordinator, running a million directions at once, advising as to ‘how [it was something new to a lot of us], finding stands and  suggesting modes of  display, and generally guiding us all through to ‘VOILA!’ – one  fascinating and very varied exhibition!

But there was more – not just the glass cases to set up, but hanging around to do the hanging!  this was not as straightforward as it sounds. We had to somehow attach our paintings to fine dangling wires and – here’s the worst part GET THEM TO SIT $#@*# STRAIGHT!

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Collaboration – an adventure to be savored!

I have found the opportunity to collaborate with illustrators something eminently rewarding, an experience that  enriches both participants and results in a more vibrant and much richer work. It does this because, in the best collaborations,  it  broadens the vision of the work, taking in as it does the illustrator’s perception of the story’s universe.

My first picture book, “Mending Lucille” was the result of a collaborationWorking with the amazing Sarah Davis was inspirational! I have gone on to collaborate closely with illustrators all over the world. I have found them on the internet’s illustration sites, on http://www.Jacketflap.com and on http://www.utales.com. We have created and are creating numbers of other picture books, some digitally published, some in process with print publishers and some I am still researching the right publishing outlet. Finding the ‘right’ outlet is very important. Not every publisher is ‘right’ for every book.

Digital Publishing

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with first time picture book illustrators, Jade Potts [USA], Jonas Sahlstrom [Sweden], Alexandra Krasuska [Sweden] and fellow Aussie, Jodi Magi [now of Abu-Dhabi] on uTales, and am about to have my latest collaboration, “Little Dragons’ Babysitter” released with Caroline Lee. Utales is non-exclusive which means  creators can take advantage of other  opportunities for their work as they arise. I have just signed a contract with Flying Books, Islreal, for “Rich Man, Poor Man” the book I did with Jodi Magi. My first digital collaboration is on http://www.istorytime, “At the Beach with Bucket and Spade” with Sarah Bash Gleeson [USA], whom I met on JacketFlap.com, a wonderful children’s literature networking site along with many other amazing and inspiring folk. Sarah is editor of magazine, “Dream Chaser” which focusses on children’s books and their creators.

Joanna Marple’s mini review of my latest digital book, “Xengu and the Turn of Tide”:

“A Tolkienesque tale, I love it!”

See a review of her first picture book in my last blog post with links to her interview with Darshana Shah Khiani on “Flowering Minds“.

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Presenting – the Lockyer Arts Festival

Can’t remember when I’ve had so much creative fun with such a fantastic group of multitalented folk! 13th to 16th January  we arrived in from all over – WA, NT, Vic and  ‘locals’ Christian and self.  We were housed in the Gatton Motel, a leg stretch away  from the main venue, not that we needed to walk. We were chauffeur driven everywhere by local Minibus/taxi owner Sue.

12a/aka 13

This is the door to my room, the non-existent  No. 13, on 13th January, a Friday, how lucky can you get!  Interesting how many places omit room 13, floor 13 etc etc. Do folk really think we are so bound by superstition and hangovers from the dark ages that we will eschew  a room or a whole floor just because of a place in a numeric sequence? Evidently it is so.

Presenting

Craig and I had joint sessions with small groups of ardent attendees in a series of workshops. All interacted with us freely and kept us on our toes with their questions.

We started with a draft of my story about the cow that swam the Brisbane river during the January 2011 floods. It was  over 700 words [too long for a picture book] but gave the background Craig needed to locate the story and characterise the little cow. This is a link to a newspaper article about her amazing survival swim.

It was a revelation and a privilege to work with Craig one on one as he sketched out his visual thoughts on the story with me reading excerpts and the audience  interspersing with comments. I cut swathes from the text as Craig’s expert hand created  wonderful image after image.

This is a glimpse of the creation process –

  1. A view of the Brisbane Rive in flood provided by Kim Byron from her newspaper collection on the event.
  2. Craig working on a charcoal image of  the little cow. He has a strong feel for movement and can create a whole range of emotions with sometimes the barely there addition of a line or a smudge.

I love the way illustrators  climb into the  visual universe of a story. Text says a family is sitting in a kitchen. The illustrator will look over their shoulders, look out the window, go out into the next room, climb the stairs to the attic or down to the yard and see where the  house is located in a community.

[more coming… I just need to sleep now…]

“Mending Lucille”, Radio New Zealand review by John McIntyre

Cover, "Mending Lucille"

I thought I had probably long gone received the last of the reviews for my Crichton Award winning picture book, “Mending Lucille”. WRONG! Just got the loveliest, very belated review –
RADIO NEW ZEALAND:
http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20110617-1037-childrens_book_review_with_john_mcintyre-048.mp3
Sarah Davis [my amazing collaborator, illustrator on this wonderful project] sent it to me today. It came out on 17th June this year! Better late than never!

John McIntyre gave a very thoughtful, in depth review citing the use of “Mending Lucille” by the Monash Centre for Grief Education in the training of counselors working with children experiencing grief, loss or separation from a parent. Read more of this post

JAPAN – New Rising Sun anthology – to be an e-book – Poets, writers, artists

This  fundraising anthology is to be an e-book – poets writers, artists, please give of your talents to help the Japanese peope in their hour of need!

The link : http://booksthathelp.org/

New Sun Rising
booksthathelp.org 

Stories for Japan

Opportunity for writers

CHILDREN AND WAR ANTHOLOGY
http://jlpowers.net/?page_id=1438

This anthology, to be published by Cinco Puntos Press in
2011 or 2012, will explore all angles of children’s and
teenagers’ experiences in war. The core of the book will
be personal essays, memoirs, journalistic accounts, and
historical narratives, both previously published and
original pieces. It may also include photos, artwork,
posters, and other debris that depicts the effects of war
on children and teens. Though the book will be primarily
non-fiction, we may include some fiction, and we are willing
to consider pieces about both current and past wars. “War”
is defined liberally to include both “official” declared
wars as well as secret, unofficial wars, such as those carried
out by governments on civilians in places like Chile, Argentina,
and Zimbabwe. All submissions, queries, and suggestions should
be sent to J.L. Powers at jlpowers@evaporites.com by June
1, 2011.

NOTE: While the guidelines do not state the payment rate, I
spoke with Jessica Powers, editor of the anthology, and the
payment is $200 per story accepted.

Useful resources for children’s writers and teachers

A websites well worth visiting  –

Two children’s authors sharing how they are doing it and things they have learned en route.

http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/2010/10/voice-and-art-of-telling-versus-showing.html

Carol Denbow at  http://abookinside.blogspot.com has lots of writing tips and marketing tricks and lots more.

Dream Chaser Magazine  regularly features articles and interviews on new children’s writers and illustrators as well as tips and tricks by those who have been published.  Latest edition – http://www.magcloud.com/browse/Magazine/92435

Interviews and writing tips and more  – http://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/ – recently featured illustrator, K. Michael Crawford.

GRIEFABET by Karen O. Johnson

Note – a new kind of Alphabet to use with older children, teens and adults in literacy classes!  I ust wonder if Karen has realised this potential for her amazing little book herself! 🙂 Folk addressing illiteracy issues in their lives have more that just that they are trying to face, come to turns with, cope with, get past. This alphabet is for them! It is therapeutic whilst it teaches, but in an unobtrusive, non-threatening way!

“GRIEFABET” by Karen O. Johnson, MEd.

 

GRIEFABET by Karen O. Johnson MEd.

 

“Griefabet” by noted American therapist/counsellor/presenter, Karen O. Johnson is unusual.

The book,of course, is primarily aimed at counseling and therapy settings and there is a workbook that can be purchased to accompany “Griefabet”.  But this little book is a great deal more.

A book of warm, witty, affirmations for those who are coping with grief and loss, it has a few happily playful ‘venting’ exercises thrown in for good measure.  It is also a free verse poem that celebrates life and the resilience of the human spirit. Finally, it is a work of art – illustrations use the letters of the alphabet in designs that mirror the  verse of affirmation opposite. It is a design achievement!

 

GRIEFABET - peek inside

 

“GRIEFABET” by Karen O. Johnson, http://www.griefabet.com, ISBN 978-0-615-39746-7.

Karen O.Johnson-2010-09-21 AuthorTacklesGriefFromAtoZ

Thumbs up from children! “Mending Lucille” in top 6 picture books for NZ public library district + reviews

Review in FeMail for "Mending Lucille"

Review in FeMail for "Mending Lucille"

New Zealand children have chosen “Mending Lucille”, placing it in the top 6 picture books for 2008. This is a wonderful honour to be chosen by the children themselves! Sarah and I are suitably excited and humbled at the same time! Dunedin Public Library District is one of the largest in New Zealand , incorporating 6 pubic libraries in its territory.

See page 3 of the promotional brochure:

childrens-choice-picture-books_-dunedin-public-library-nz1

Other Reviews for “Mending Lucille”

mendinglucille_brisbaneschild_sept08

mendinglucille_canberratimes_oct08

mendinglucille_magpies_sept08

jenniferpoulter_bundabergnewsmail_sept08
AND

“New Zealand Listener”,  December 20-26 2008 Vol 216 No 3580 – has placed “Mending Lucille” in the top 10 chldren’s books/young adult books for 2008 –  Full review available online on 3rd January 2009
http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3580/artsbooks/12442/breaking_barriers.html

“Mending Lucille” in top 10 books for children and young people in New Zealand

This week’s edition of New Zealand Listener, December 20-26 2008 Vol 216 No 3580, has rated “Mending Lucille” as one of the Top 10 children’s and young adults books for 2008 [full text of the review available online on 3rd January 2009]. This is amazing and totally blow away news in what has been an ‘interesting’ year!

http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3580/artsbooks/12442/breaking_barriers.html