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Category Archives: inspiration

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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Thoughts on Collaborating, incorporating an Interview with Joanna Marple on uTales

Collaborating

Darshana Shah Khiani‘s interview on her Children’s Book Review site, “Flowering Minds”, with new children’s picture book author, Joanna Marple, is revealing on lots lof levels.

Joanna and Darshana met on children’s writer and illustrator FaceBook site, 12 x 12 , a very lively, supportive, share and learn community set up by Julie Hedlund. When Joanna released her very first picture book, a collaboration with the very talented Maja Sereda, Darshana jumped in with the interview offer.

“Snow Games” is a fun tumble and rumpus in winter’s wonderland aimed at 3 to 7 year olds. Maja’s wonderfully endearing little animal characterisations beautifully complement the story.

Joanna  shares what it was like to collaborate with Maja to create “Snow Games”. Close collaboration between author  and illustrator is a circumstance largely [and sadly] foreign to most traditional print publishing. For Joanna and Maja it was a fun and very rewarding experince. But the interview goes beyond the creation of  “Snow Games”. It also details Joanna’s experience of the uTales website and her thoughts on traditional and digital publishing.

Cover for “The Sea Cat Dreams” collaboration with Muza Ulasowski, a narrative verse story with a theme of surviving the changes in life.

Joanna Kindly makes mention of my collaboration with noted animal and wildlife illustrator, Muza Ulasowski, a story about surviving change, “The Sea Cat Dreams”. Muza was one of many wonderful illustrators I met on the uTales Facebook group and have since worked with to create a varied range of children’s books.

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…]

Lockyer Arts Festival – just the beginning – 13 to 16 January – Arts& Crafts & Music

The Lockyer is a fascinating and fruitful area and I don’t mean just crops. They grow talent there. This was very evident at the Lockyer Arts Festival where I was honoured to be a presenter recently.  All the arts were represented.

The Nolan family alone included an artist, a potter and a jeweler. KCMinis beautiful miniature 3D creations using recycled materials and Sheryl Lothian’s bread jewelry revived old arts that are ‘new’ again. Couture, millinery, original art for t-shirts, art for the garden, art on stone, art with icing, quilting, aboriginal art, lapidary work, woodwork and culinary arts were just some of the wide and wonderful variety of artistic skills displayed.

Music was high on the agenda with the  Battle of the Bands resulting in a win for country singer, Reanna Leschke, and her band [Open] and runners up, Third Eye Alchemy. In the under 18 division, the very talented classical guitar trio, Un Dia Antes wowed with their  original work. Winners joined  the inimitable Marcia Hines as supporting acts in a first rate live concert.

The  writers and poets of the Lockyer had their work displayed by local poet and editor, Andrea Kwast.  Andrea’s bookshop is the Lockyer’s writing hub!

Presenters for the Festival, whose theme was focussed on ‘resilience’, came from Western Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory and Brisbane, led workshops on writing a novel, memoir writing, non fiction writing with an emphasis on culinary arts.  Workshops on writing children’s books, illustrating picture books, cartooning and animation and landscape painting drew presenters from Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane. This will be discussed in more detail in another blog.

My own photo images from the Festival, focussing on the talents of the Lockyerites themselves, are reproduced below. 

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“All in the Woods” first review through and first from the USA

“All in the Woods” by J.R.Poulter, illustrated by Linda S. Gunn, Pixiefoot Press, 2011 UK  ISBN 978-0-9560363-5-3  [release  – 1st August]

Everyone in Pete’s family is moving or adjusting to a move, it seems. Change brings challenges, not least of which are the family’s nosey, new neighbours. Everyone says what they think, but are they right? Things are not always as they seem…  and who is the mysterious little visitor who changes everything? A story that bridges generations, told with humour  and an underlying plea for the preservation of wildlife habitats.

REVIEW by Janice Phelps Williams, USA

“With sensitive and humorous prose, J.R. McRae tells a story of family life, love, and acceptance with beautiful illustrations by Linda Gunn. When Pete finds a furry hero, Ink, to solve his dinnertime woes, a nosey neighbor jumps to conclusions that enlarge as Pete’s grandpa comes to visit. When Mrs. Allan’s mother-in-law, Nanny, and Pete’s grandpa take off for an early-morning drive, the assumptions increase until Ink and Grandpa solve the mystery. Perfect for young readers, this book speaks of a boy and his grandpa, a mother defending her son from gossip, and the surprise of love at any age.”  ~Janice Phelps Williams, author, illustrator www.janicephelps.com

Promotional poster, by Tara Hale, for “All in the Woods”, Pixiefoot Press, 2011

“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

Children’s Book Festival, Family Day 3rd April 2011 – State Library Victoria & Wheeler Centre

“Books Are Fun”

Children’s Book Festival 2011,  Family Day 3rd April 2011, 10.00am to 4.00pm

State Library of Victoria and the Wheeler Centre

This free programme of ‘events’ over the Sunday was hugely popular.  It was described as “the biggest celebration of children’s books that Melbourne has ever seen”. Families and children’s book lovers crammed into venues to hear a wonderful assemblage of Australia’s leading authors and illustrators. They queued for meter after meter to meet authors and illustrators and have their load of precious books signed.  They waited for hours to be able to get into workshops, storytelling and performances.

The ‘Family Day’ was the brainchild of the State Library of Victoria and the Wheeler Centre who held, coordinated and promoted  the various sessions.  Authors and illustrators were fully utilised, most doing at least two events on the programme. [http://wheelercentre.com/static/files/assets/087ddc27/CBW_Childrensbooks_A4programme-DR7.pdf ]

Some notes from the day:

 

John Nicholson/Roland Harvey interview with SLV staffer

John Nicholson (architect) – author and illustrator

John started writing fiction. His publisher suggested he write non-fiction.

Working with A&U –  John has an idea and approaches them with it or they have an idea and approach John. At one stage they seemed to take a turn about with this process. He now just develops ‘the ideas I want to’. He prefers to work alone now.

John agreed with Roland, in  creating an authentic “Sense of place” it was important, if at all possible, to do the research for the text and images on location.

Roland Harvey (architect)  author and illustrator

History was something that always fascinated him and which initially led him to writing and illustrating books.

Family activities have inspired  some of his books – “At the Beach” and ‘To the Top End”.  “You need to know, to “feel” the place you are writing about. To research you should “be there to be really successful”. Otherwise ther is the internet but Roland considered this sort of research “much harder” in trying to create a real sense of ‘place’.

He collaborates a lot. His latest book is a collaboration with Mem Fox which was launched at the Family Day. He doesn’t publish any more  and mainly works with Penguin and A&U. He liked the freedom he had  as publisher. He surrounded himself with experts in each area. He found his best books were done “against the advice of others”. It was risky but he LOVED the freedom to do what he was passionate about.

His next project is another picture book based on family travels. He is also avidly exploring Apps and is excited about this development in children’s books.

Terry Denton/Chris Morpeth interview with SLV staffer

Terry Denton  author/illustrator

The place where I like to write/draw:

I have a studio in my backyard. It is quiet, no distractions.

“Gasp” is my favourite of my creations.

Denton and Andy Griffith go away for a week together when working on a new joint project to ‘get it started’.

Chris Morpeth (former teacher) author

The place where I like to write:

In a café over coffee – there are no distractions. At home, I get distracted with Nintendo and Mario. I make my stories up as I go along. I think the more you do the better you get.

Terry & Chris agreed  re book writing/creation, “If it is too organised, it doesn’t work!”

Leigh Hobbs interview with SLV staffer


Leigh Hobbs (former teacher) author/interviewer

His first version of ‘Old Tom’  was rejected. This version had an angrier look and  smoked  a cigar.  The next version, accepted, was more humorous and sly. Leigh draws the pictures for his books first as he has his ‘run of ideas’. Then he ”works“ to finish the book. He felt  he wrote books of the sort he liked a a kid. He loved Enid Blyton, Treasure Island.

A lesson he learnt early, was that children  want “Mums” kept within certain parameters, e.g. Old Tom’s ‘Mum’, Angela Throgmorton.

Leigh Hobbs and Old Tom's evolution

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

JAPAN – fundraising print anthology – WE ARE ALL JAPAN

HELP NEEDED for WE ARE ALL JAPAN anthology

Calling all poets, lyricists, bards and poesyists –  support this effort to publish an anthology for Japan. Please help too, if you can. Thanks folks! 🙂
Details: 

An OPEN CALL for submission to WE ARE ALL JAPAN

We at WE ARE ALL JAPAN are assembling an anthology of all types of poetry and haibun – We Are All Japan. The purpose of the anthology is to display to Japan our feelings of love and concern for the hell they have and are currently enduring.

All proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the the Salvation Army or the Red Cross in Japan.

http://wearealljapan.blogspot.com/

ANTHOLOGY “WE ARE ALL JAPAN”

Please submit any kind of poetry as well as haibun (stating your name, city and country) to svtojapan@gmail.com.

We also need a photo or artwork for the cover. Please send your original work to the same email.

Deadline: May 15, 2011.

Robert D. Wilson and Sasa Vazic