What a magical night! The ferry ride across our glorious harbour with critique-buddy-extraordinaire Sharon Dalgleish set the tone for an evening of listening, learning and writing. Hosted by the delightful Zanni Louise at the Coma Gallery in Darlinghurst, this Soiree was a fundraiser for Room to Read - an organisation devoted to a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality. The special guest was award-winning author and Scholastic publisher Rebecca Young in conversation with Zanni. I really appreciated Rebecca's candid, honest and humble account of the inspiration behind her books and their subsequent success. She also provided some great insights of the publishing industry and how the day-to-day work environment has changed since covid.
We also heard from a volunteer for Room to Read, had a musician provide a rendition of one of Zanni's books, and we even participated in a writing workshop.
Big thanks to Zanni for such a special evening.
aI remember seeing Margaret Hamilton at a CBCA conference years and years ago, speaking with Maurice Saxby. I was a teacher-librarian at the time, but a CBCA newbie. The pair of them were treated like royalty, and I confess that although I knew of the legend of Maurice, I had no idea who this Margaret Hamilton was.
In hindsight, I wish I'd paid more attention. In recent years, I would look at her brochures for writing weekends at Pinerolo, a gorgeous children's book cottage in the Blue Mountains, and say 'one day I'll get there...'
Margaret's influence in the Australian children's book industry cannot be underestimated. I grew up reading a mish-mash of English and US fiction, and occasionally an Australian title. With her trademark determination, she established Australia as a serious contender for children's books in Australia, publishing modern classics and establishing the careers of countless children's writers.
Margaret's memoir was released in 2022, and she died in November that same year. Her portrait on the cover was created by her dear friend, Bruce Whatley.
Although the memoir was officially launched months ago, Libby Gleeson, another children's book icon, spoke at my local library reflecting on the remarkable life and career of her dear friend. The more I listened, the more grateful and humbled I became. I cannot believe I didn't know the significance of Margaret Hamilton in the children's book world. And I cannot believe I put the opportunities to attend Pinerolo on the back burner.
As I continue to pursue my love of writing for children, I will bear in mind the legacy of Margaret Hamilton, and ensure I don't let other opportunities pass by. I will seize the day! (Margaret Hamilton certainly did.)
Vale Margaret Hamilton - 23 June 1941 - 24 November 2022
There are writers, there are teachers, there are teachers who write and there are writers who teach.
And then there's Julia Cameron.
Julia is in a league of her own. She has written over 40 books, as a novelist, playwright, songwriter and poet, and has multiple credits in threatre, film and television. However, it is her role as mentor to aspiring creatives that makes me an avid fan. Her book, The Artist's Way, A Spiritual Path to Creativity, was first written over 30 years ago, and she continues to ignite and unleash creativity in artists and writers across the globe.
I feel so fortunate to have attended three sessions on zoom where she unpacked The Writing Life - quite a tall order for three sessions! Regardless of whether she was speaking of the wonders of 'morning pages' or 'creative dates', or reading through her own poetry, I was mesmerised and hung onto every word. She spoke with an ethereal quality, and yet provided practical and sound advice for both novices and accomplished writers alike.
At 75, she is still as inspiring as ever, and I will always treasure these sessions. Now I just have to follow her words of wisdom!
If you're interested in learning more, visit her website https://juliacameronlive.com/ or read this New York Times article. https://nyti.ms/455eX94
What's better than a visit to the State Library of NSW? A visit to the State Library with your super-talented writing buddy Sharon Dalgleish to see the inspirational exhibition Imagine the wonder of picture books.
The exhibition didn't disappoint. From May Gibbs to Bronwyn Bancroft to Tohby Riddle and Bruce Whatley and many, many, many more, this was the ultimate excursion for a kid-lit tragic like me.
My personal highlights included seeing the intricate detail in an original collage from Jeannie Baker's Circle, May Gibbs' inspiration for her illustrations and 'scribbles' from many artists ranging from original story-boards to experiments with colour palettes. Even the video of picture book creators was professional, engaging and thought-provoking.
It really made me reflect on the magic of picture books, and how the sum of its parts are more than just pictures and words put together. I am so excited to be writing words that one day might be matched with an illustrator to create a magic that I can't imagine.
If you're interested in going, you don't have long. The exhibition closes on 9 July.
Here is some info to whet your appetite: www.sl.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/imagine-the-wonder-picture-books
And if you can't get there, make sure you listen to the masters share their stories.
Well, this was a first, and hopefully won't be a last. On the weekend, I travelled to Blackheath for my first Writers' Retreat, staying at the very beautiful Glenella. This weekend had everything - gorgeous accommodation, exquisite food, an open fire... but these faded into insignificance compared to the company. Writers from everywhere (Sydney, Canberra, Perth!) - all as passionate about kid-lit as each other. And then there were the guest speakers! Tohby Riddle and his thoughtful, intuitive approach to his work; the smiliest author in the industry - Matt Cosgrove; the extraordinarily talented Pip Harry; and Claire Halifax, publisher at Walker Books.
A huge thanks to Zanni Louise for pulling this altogether. (No easy feat!)
It was a picture-perfect day for the launch of Zanni-Louise's first middle-grade fiction book, Queenie in Seven Moves. Such a happy day at a gorgeous park in Glebe, celebrating a new book in the world. It was also wonderful to meet other children's writers, including my writing buddy Sharon in real-life, not just on zoom!