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1. How to Organize a Book Launch Party

By Candy Gourlay If you follow me on Facebook, you'll know that I attend a LOT of launch parties. At the spring launch of my pal Joe Friedman's warmhearted book The Secret Dog I try to accept invites when I can. I know the agony and ecstasy of writing a book. I also know that without a launch party, the publication of a book feels like a great big non-event. It was in your head and then

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2. dinosaur police: the launch party!

Today's official launch of my new Scholastic UK picture book, Dinosaur Police, involved quite a lot of preparation, but not all of it by me. Deadly Knitshade and her crew of dinosaurs were very busy:



And I was BAKING, something I almost never do!



Then we all gathered at the Herne Hill bookshop in south London, Tales on Moon Lane, which had a lovely display of loads of the books I've worked on:



My sculptor friend Eddie Smith had been busy making my hat (for Hay Festival and the launch), and here he is with my Dinosaur Police editor, Pauliina Malinen:



And the hats were terrific! Check out Deadly Knitshade (aka Lauren O'Farrell):


Photos tweeted by @deadlyknitshade







Look at this Officer Brachio badge, stitched by Sami Teasdale! She gave it to me at the end of the day, totally amazing.



My excellent Scholastic publicist, Dave Sanger, and I did a little Masterchef cooking demonstration: how to make a dinosaur pizza.



And everyone dug in to the various Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous tomato pastes, swamp cheese, chili, mushrooms, everything needed to make a particularly sweet pizza.



Then I swapped hats because my big one kept getting tangled up in the chandeliers. I did a reading... (photo tweeted by Deadly Knitshade)


Photo tweeted by @deadlyknitshade

And Dinosaur Dave acted out some particularly emotional parts of the story:



Then we did some drawing and a song. Look, here's my husband Stuart's drawing! (You can download more drawing activities over on the Dinosaur Police webpage.)



Then we went out to the bookshop back yard for bubbly and book signing and Pauliina gave a fab speech:



Big thanks to Pauliina, my designer Rebecca Essilifie, Dave, Scholastic, Tereze, Juliet and staff at Tales on Moon Lane, my studio mates (Elissa Elwick, Gary Northfield and member-at-large Lauren O'Farrell), web designer Dan Fone, and Stuart for being so supportive! And to everyone who came along for the launch! Lauren shot a Vine video of me signing a book:



But Tales on Moon Lane wasn't our only stop! Earlier that morning Dave and I had taken part in a smaller Story Time at Dulwich Books, which was also good fun!



As Philip Ardagh pointed out, we even made the newspapers, ha ha... Young Holly managed to capture the rascal on paper:



Big thanks to everyone who came along! I also took off my big hat after the intial introduction because I think its sheer size was scaring one of the littlest guys in the front row. (It's better designed for big stage events, I think>)





This event was the first time Dave had drawn with me in public AND his first public outing in a dinosaur onesie. VERY BRAVE.



Big thanks to Sheila and Annie for hosting us!





And one last thanks to brave Dinosaur Dave.

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3. Can You Smell What DC is Cooking?

Before I let you know what’s cooking, I’d like to wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m happy to announce that I’ve done something I’ve always wanted to do and some of my fans have asked me to and that is to publish a boxset of the Billy and Monster books.The Billy and Monster Collection Included in this boxset are the first five books in the Billy and Monster series. They are:

Billy and the Monster who Loved to Fart

Billy and Monster: The Superhero with Fart Powers

Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

Billy and Monster’s New Neighbor Has a Secret

Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas

Over the weekend, I posted the cover you see to the right on my Facebook page and asked family, friends, authors and fans to let me know what they think. One recurring theme was that the grey color was a bit dull so I’ve asked my designer to change it to a brick red and I know that is really going to stand out. If you have any thoughts, I’d be interested to hear them.

I have to admit that the driving force behind me doing this boxset was because I wanted to covert it to an audiobook. I use a company called acx.com (an affiliate of Amazon) to do my audiobooks and will be working with a professional voice-over artist over the next month to give Billy and Monster a voice. Can’t wait to share that with you.

#BREAKINGNEWS You can actually get a copy of this boxset at the link below!

The Billy and Monster Collection

Thanks for all your support. It’s much appreciated.

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4. Guess whose now on Apple, Nook and Kobo?

One of the big takeaways (for me) from attending the London Book Fair last year was to publish my books to multiple platforms. Now, when I started this journey as a children’s book author, I had my books exclusively on Amazon.Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

Why you may ask?

Well, the Amazon platform was very simple to use and Amazon had wonderful perks for newbie authors like myself that made publishing exclusively to their platform a no-brainer. Plus, and I believe this is still the case, most eBooks are downloaded from the Amazon Kindle store.

Well, things have changed and let’s just say the publishing world has changed a bit since 2012, warranting a change of strategy from myself. I hope to reach new readers and fans by having my books on other Online retail channels. It’s been a gradual process but I’m happy to say you can now get the books below on Apple, Kobo, Nook, Barnes and Noble and Scribd.

Billy and Monster: The Superhero with Fart Powers

Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

Billy and Monster’s New Neighbor Has a Secret

Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost

Counting to Ten and Sharing My Easter Eggs

I’ll be migrating more titles in the days to come. Would love to know what Online channel you download your eBooks from.

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5. dinosaur police launch party + fun activities!

RAWR!!! Join me and Scholastic UK for the launch of my new picture book, Dinosaur Police!



Tales on Moon Lane, a lovely indie bookshop in Herne Hill, south London, is hosting the big party in the afternoon (2-3pm, with a signing after), and if you can't come to that (or it's more convenient), pop over to Dulwich Books at 11am for a smaller storytelling, drawing and signing session. A full day of dinosaurs! And it's optional, but if you want to dress up dinosaur or police themed or both, that would be FABULOUS. There is a small booking fee for the big party (£2.50), but if you buy a book, they'll deduct if from the cost of your book. I hope you can come, and if you have any friends that might enjoy it, please let them know! Here's the Facebook Event Page, if you want to let me know you're coming.


Photo by Elissa Elwick

My web designer Dan Fone has just posted the free activity sheets on my website, so now there are fun things built in that librarians, teachers, parents, adults who like to colour, can print out. (You could even use the colouring sheet and drawing tutorial to make a Pin-the-Pizza-on-the-T-Rex for a Dinosaur Police themed birthday pizza party!)



Here's a close-up of How to Draw Inspector Sarah Tops:



I tested this out on Twitter, to see if the steps were too complicated. So big thanks to these people for helping: @sillyweeowl, @alexthepink, @froyoho:



@helenclarkjones, @nelliejean, @crgn:


@paper_teacher took it to school and got her class to try!


And @MehsiLovesBooks went the whole way to lovely colour:


Please to check out the new Dinosaur Police web page, and if you have any friends who love dinosaurs or police stories, point them in this direction! If you want to tweet or Instagram your drawings, I'd love to see them, and use the hash tag #DinosaurPolice!

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6. The Billy and Monster Collection Audiobook is LIVE!

Hello

It’s been a while since my last blog post and a lot’s been happening in my personal and professional life as an authorBilly and Monster Meet the President… all good stuff by the way and I hope to share more with you over the coming weeks.

So, I have 2 BIG morsels of news for you today.

First of all, my illustrator has finished the illustrations for the next Billy and Monster book titled – Billy and Monster Meet the President.

I subtly deal with an ever present danger in the world we live in today – terrorism.

I hope this book will be a springboard for grown-ups to share with their loved ones how to deal with strangers and practice good etiquette in public places. This should be out mid June and I’ll let you know when its live.

And now for (perhaps) the more exciting news…

The Billy and Monster Collection Audiobook is now LIVE and I’d like to offer you a free copy in exchange for a review.Billy Combo Cover Red brick

Simply follow the instructions below to get a copy

1. Go to my book’s page on Audible.com or audible.co.uk

2. Add the audiobook to your basket

3. If you are prompted to sign in, please create a new Audible.com account or log in. Otherwise, proceed by clicking “Do you have a promotional code” beneath the cover artwork of the audiobook.

4. Enter the promo code, and click “Apply Code”

5. A credit for the audiobook will be added to your account. Click the box next to “1 Credit” and click the “Update” button to apply the credit to purchase.

6. Complete checkout, and start listening to a free copy of the book.

I have 12 free codes to share today. Simply leave a comment below and let me know what you love best about the Billy and Monster books and I’ll send you the code asap.

This audiobook contains the five books in the Billy and Monster series and J.B. Burgess – the narrator – did a wonderful job with the sound effects and accents and brought each story to life. My wife and two bambinos were in stitches when we listened to it for the first time.

This audiobook can be purchased on Audible, iTunes and Amazon.

Thanks for all your support and do have a great day.

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7. Review – Spud and Charli

Does your imagination ever run wild? I bet kids will have no difficulty answering this one and for me that answer is still an empathic, yes! Horse-obsessed Charli finds it difficult to rein in her run-away imagination too in Samantha Wheeler’s new novel for primary-aged readers, Spud and Charli. This story gallops full speed from […]

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8. cakes in space, the london invasion

Yesterday morning we had our Cakes in Space launch! And there were cake hats! Cakes with eyes! Cakes that were ALIVE....


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

The previous day, my co-author Philip Reeve and I had signed stock for indie bookshops and prepared for the next day's event, but we had no idea what sorts of life forms we'd encounter.



In the morning, my trusty companion, Stuart, and I travelled light years to Marylebone High Street to the space station that is Daunt Books.



And we were met by cakes! Cakes with eyes!


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com


These fearsome creatures were carefully herded by cake wranglers from Oxford University Press, including Cecily, Camille Davis and Hattie Bayly.



Sweet wheat-based morsels clamped on to people's heads and wouldn't get off!



But somehow, these people took it in their stride...



...They couldn't seem to understand their peril.



In fact - shock horror - some of the visitors even ENCOURAGED the cakes in their ferocious tendencies.



I sensed these cakes had undue influence on their hosts.


Photo by Deadly Knitshade - whodunnknit.com

Fearless scientists that we are, Reeve and I took to the podium to investigate these strange happenings.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

Philip demonstrated the wonder of SCIENCE, how in the future in Cakes in Space, people can insert protein sachets into the marvellous NOM-O_TRON and produce the most excellent food you can imagine. In Philip's case, it was a chocolate biscuit.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

Of course, I had to jump in and try out this science of the future.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

I could envision MUCH more awesome treats than Philip, so I'd be sure to get something at least a hundred times better.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

But what was this? A carrot?!! ...Science is not all it's cracked up to be.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

This little girl was seriously skeptical. I expect she'll grow up and become the sort of scientist who relies on things like DATA and EVIDENCE, which is rather an odd concept.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

But those cakes were still lurking, so we delved into our carefully researched report and read out useful passages to the audience, warning them about their impending doom.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

Now, I ought not to give away all the secrets of our research, but I can allude to a strange occurrence during the event, brought on by Visitors from Elsewhere, which left Philip struck to the heart with tragic loss. ...A moment of silence, please.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

To deal with these dangers in the future, we need TECHNOLOGY, mostly in the form of robots who look rather friendly. I drew a diagram of a Cakes in Space-featured robot named Pilbeam. And so that the schematics of this fine robot would not be forgotten by future generations, I had everyone draw Pilbeam along with me, implanting the robot's makeup directly into their brains.



And the implantation was successful, each diagram slightly altered so that the memory could not be wiped out by a single virus. (Clever, yes?)


Pictures by @LAWsomeTweets and Katie on Martin Hand's Flickr page

To lighten this dark, prophetic mood, Philip and I sang a ballad from the future, dating to just the time before everyone gets artsy-fartsy and starts singing only in binary.



What wonderous things these humans have wrought!



We practiced our Battle Cry of the Future, in case our defensive technology is not enough to ward off the killer cakes.



And still the cakes lurked, preferring the cranial regions.



Don't be deluded by their enticing appearance...



...these cakes have issues.


Photo by Rebecca Portsmouth - rebeccalouise.com

Despite the gloom and doom of the presentation, the front window display at Daunt Books Marylebone looked quite jolly. We suspect they may be in collusion with the killer cakes.



After our signing, Philip and I traveled with Norwegian starship captain Karoline Bakken to another satellite of Daunt.



Despite its rather old-fashioned facade, Daunt Books Highgate IS the future and houses a time machine in its basement.



The staff let us inscribe coded warnings for future generations in their Cakes in Space books but pretended not to know what we were talking about when we asked them about the time machine. So we left them, vowing to return when their secret could be revealed.



As we traveled, Captain Bakken lavished unwarranted affection on our captured cake. Being nice to cakes doesn't help anything, you ought to know. Eat the cake before it eats you, that's our motto.



Next stop: Daunt Books Holland Park.



But what is this? My co-pilot decided to go undercover, to wear CIVVIES, while I remained still properly clad in my fighting uniform. Obviously this is a sign of some overarching PLAN we have, but I can't tell you about it or I'll have to kill you.



Be aware. Be vigilant. Run to your nearest bookshop and snatch up a copy of Cakes in Space so that you, too, can be prepared for alien cake attack. You NEVER KNOW when they might strike. I will leave you with our public service broadcast:

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9. EVERBLAZE Official SoCal Launch Party Details

Wow--we are less than five weeks away from the release of EVERBLAZE!!!!

(*cue all the jumping and flailing and scrambling and panicking*)

So keep an eye on this blog--and the rest of my social media--because I have ALL KINDS of fun updates coming for you, including the pre-order swag giveaway you're all so eagerly waiting for, and my Fall tour dates.

But while that's all getting finalized, I wanted to share one event that's already set: The Official EVERBLAZE Lauch Party!!!!  Here's all the deets:


And in case that graphic isn't loading for some reason, here the details are again in plain text:

Monday, 11/3/14
7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble Montclair Plaza
5183 Montclair Plaza Ln.
Montclair, CA 91763
909-399-1966

And yes--you're reading that date correctly. The official Launch party IS the day before EVERBLAZE comes out. So that means--if you come--you can buy your copy a day early!!!!! 

As if that weren't incredible enough, let me give you another AWESOME reason to be there. Everyone who comes to the official launch--and buys a copy of EVERBLAZE--will also be given one of these amazing Black Swan mirrors:



For those who don't live in SoCal, I *will* be raffling off a few of these mirrors at each of my tour stops. Plus there will be a few online giveaways during the weeks after release to give everyone a chance to enter for one. But this Launch Party is the only time they'll be given out to everyone at the event. And they'll be given out first come, first served, while supplies last. So if you're worried about getting one, better get there early. :)

There will also be some very special RAFFLE PRIZES! And CUPCAKES!! And SWAG. And BOOKS!!! So many shiny copies of EVERBLAZE!!!! And I'll be signing ALL of them!!!!! Who doesn't want to be a part of that?????

It'll be the perfect way to kick off launch week, and I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!! I hope to see you there! Mark your calendars for 11/3/14. It's going to be EPIC!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

And ....  that's it for now. But like I said in the beginning--stay tuned. I still have lots more events and giveaways and amazingness coming your way!! The next few weeks are going to be so much fun!  

((Team KEEPER Group Hug))

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10. Craft Book Recommendation – Writing Great Books for Young Adults

Writing Great Books for Young Adults Released – October 7, 2014 By Regina L. Brooks ISBN: 9781402293528 Trade Paperback/$14.99         Praise for Writing Great Books for Young Adults “Written from the perspective of an industry insider, the … Continue reading

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11. New Book by David Chuka – Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas

They’re back!Billy and Monster's Golden Christmas

The latest Billy and Monster book - Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas – will be published on November 25th and is currently available to pre-order on Amazon.

So you might be wondering what the inspiration behind this latest book was?

Well, in writing this book I was looking to address that scenario that children (as well as adults) experience during Christmas, birthdays or any other occasion when they receive a gift(s). What happens when you don’t like the gift that you receive? Do you:

- Chuck the gift in the bin?

- Grit your teeth and pretend you like it?

- Thank the giver and show appreciation regardless of your impression of the gift?

It was this scenario I was looking to explore in this book and see how Billy would react to receiving a present he didn’t like.

Something else I’m happy to reveal in this book is the origin of Monster. We get to see in this book where Monster came from and get to meet his family.

This book contains all the great illustrations, dramatic moments, funny situations and wholesome lessons that you’ve come to expect in all the Billy books. Dare I say it but this might actually be the best one I’ve written and I’m happy to share it with you.Billy and Monster

I used a new illustrator for this project and his name is Renato. He’s a wonderful guy and brought a lot of energy and fun to each illustration.

Can I ask you a favour?

The book’s currently available to pre-order on Amazon and I would like you to get a copy today. Simply click the link below. It’s 99c at the moment but this will increase at some point once it’s published.

Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas on Amazon

On November 25th, when it’s published, it’ll be delivered to your Kindle device or app and I would like you to have a read and share it with your loved ones.Christmas Presents Once you’ve done that, please drop a review on Amazon saying what you liked/disliked/enjoyed about the book. Reviews go a long way in helping a book to be discovered by other readers. Your few words might just be what introduces a reluctant reader to Billy and Monster’s world and the joys of reading.

That’s all for now. Remember to grab your copy.

Your support means the world to me.

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12. Welcome to the world, EVERBLAZE!!!

I can't believe it's finally here--EVERBLAZE's launch date!! The day I hand my beautiful book baby over to you guys...



...and hope you love it as much as I do. And I cannot thank you enough for all your excitement and support leading up to this day!

((Team KEEPER Group Hug))

 I can't wait for you to see where Sophie's journey takes her. And I hope you laugh and cry and stay up too late, and come up with all kinds of crazy theories about what will happen next, because that means I did my job right.

I know many of you will read quick (in fact, some of you got your copies a couple of days early and already finished--which is extra amazing since this book is more than 600 pages long). And I KNOW that means you're going to immediately want book 4, and obviously you'll have to wait a bit (or, um... a year. *cue all the wailing*). But I promise book 4 will be worth it--I'm hard at work making it the best it can be. And in the meantime, you have EVERBLAZE to read again! (after all, it's a 600 page book, surely you missed a few details!) :)

If you've been following me here for a while, you know that I usually run a contest around launch time--and I swear, that contest IS coming. But not until I'm home from tour. So keep an eye out for that in a few weeks. And if you're in Colorado, Utah, Texas, or Arizona, I hope you'll come see me at my events! Here's where I'll be (or if that doesn't load, check my EVENTS PAGE):


I also have lots more fun extras and whatnot to share in the weeks and months ahead. Book 4 may be a year away, but there are LOTS of things to reveal in the meantime. So stick around and stay tuned. And in the meantime, to show you how much I <3 book:="" cloud="" commonly="" everblaze="" i="" in="" made="" most="" of="" p="" some="" the="" this="" used="" with="" word="" words="" you="">




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13. Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas Launch

It’s finally LIVE!Christmas Presents
My latest book - Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas - is now live on the Amazon store and you can grab a copy today for the early bird price of 99c or 77p.
Below is one of the reviews that the book had over the weekend
Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas is a cute little book with great illustrations. This book contains a great little life lesson about being thankful for the little things around you. You meet little Billy who gets a present that he feels is not as good as a present a cousin gets. He is jealous and does not say thank you. He is transported to the home of the Monsters where their happiness over the little things teaches Billy that happiness does not come from what you get but those around you.
Bonnie Rediske
If you bought a pre-order copy, Amazon must have sent it to your kindle or kindle app. Please download, read, share with family and friends. And before I forget, please leave a review once you’ve finished
reading on Amazon, GoodReads, Facebook etc.
Thanks for all your support and do have a Golden Christmas
Grab your copy at the link below

 

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14. The makings of a book launch by Tracy Alexander

Date

I opted for a couple of weeks after the publication date for two reasons, because things have been known to not run smoothly at the printing stage, and because if I left it too long I'd lose the high that seeing the spines of your new book produces. I can never imagine people wanting to come at the end of the week when they could have a wild night out, so I picked a Tuesday.

Venue
Previous launches had been at Borders (such a shame it disappeared), and View Art Gallery in Bristol. This time I thought it would be more businesslike to go back to a bookstore so I chose Foyles in Cabot Circus. Robb, the events organiser, is also a drag queen so if you want a rather fabulous intro, he's the go-to man.

Invites
Invitations aren't my job. Luckily I live with clever people. Guest list was my job - I invited friends, teenagers aplenty, librarians, and every teacher I know. I didn't count the replies because I didn't want to set my expectations high and be disappointed. This is a head-in-the-sand approach. Robb asked me how many people were coming so he could order the stock. I answered with a well-considered lie.

Food and drink
I don't like messy food and books - it doesn't seem right. Majestic delivered red and white wine, fizzy pop and ice to the shop. I brought Maltesers and Flying Saucers (because there are drones in my book).

What to wear
Charity shops are the answer to everything. I invested £5 in a wee silver skirt.

THE TALK
There's something tricky, for me, about an audience of all ages, some that know you really well as a friend, and others that have met you briefly as an author. I was a bit nervous, despite being in the middle of a tour of secondary schools with audiences of up to 250 teenagers. Adopting the usual head-in-the-sand, I scribbled some notes at two in the afternoon, and arrived at Foyles at five with a postcard of drivel. 

How did it go?
Like a wedding, in a blur, but there were lots of people, lots of books sold and a satisfying level of laughter. By half-past seven the crowds had thinned and a group of us headed over to Giraffe for something with chips.

Was it worth it?
I know not everyone has a launch, but I think the arrival of a book, knowing the ups and downs of the process, is something worth celebrating, but that's not to say I'm not pleased when it's over.

Tracy Alexander







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15. LAUNCH: Maggie and Milo: frog hunters

Just in time for spring, a grandma (!) sends a surprise package of JUST what you need to Frog Hunt…so off go Maggie, a wee lively gal, and Milo, a huge loving dog!  Our Priscilla Burris brings the characters alive in her usual adorable and spunky way:  do check it out…. and it just begs for more adventures!  Kirkus Review loves it! as do others…. go Maggie and Milo!  and happy Spring finally to all….

A Maggi and Milo pic (3)cover, and below author reading to class….

milo author

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/juli-brenning/maggi-and-milo/

 

KIRKUS REVIEW

What do you need for a frog hunt? Big polka-dot boots, a book about frogs and one giant border collie best friend.

Maggi, a wisp of a girl with spindly legs and a large, wobbly head, is an excellent adventurer. She can’t wait to try out her new boots and search the pond for frogs. After a good night’s rest—and imparting forbiddingly specific instructions to her brother at the breakfast table (“Please keep the chitchat to a minimum. I’m in a hurry!”)—Maggi and her shaggy sidekick, Milo, are ready. However, after waiting “a million minutes” (or three) in the water, they haven’t found a single frog. With shoulders slumped and head bent low, Maggi declares frog hunting to be capital B-O-R-I-N-G. Until…Milo finds a frog! And another. And another. After 16 frogs total, Maggi and Milo rest. (Frog hunting is hard work.) As the sun sets and the palette changes to a dusky blue, the frogs quietly croak “good night” to their new friends. Debut author Brenning has created a charming duo; Milo’s steadfast loyalty (and joyful, lolling tongue, courtesy of Burris) fully balances Maggi’s quirky proclivities. A simple, everyday adventure is always better when shared with a friend.

Move over Ladybug Girl (2008), there’s a new spunky gal-and-canine twosome in town. (Picture book. 3-6)


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16. OUR PLEDGE…..BOOK LAUNCH!

CATugeau Agency is so proud to announce the launch today of I Pledge Allegiance written by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez and illustrated by our own PATRICE BARTON for Random House Children’s Books (Knopf).  Seems a wonderful time to remind ourselves how lucky we are who can make that pledge…and share it with our children. ENJOY!

I PledgeSmall (4).jpg BARTON


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17. Review – The Croc and the Platypus

The Croc and the Platypus I commented recently on the Further Adventures of the The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Julia Donaldson and Charlotte Voake. Donaldson’s ineffable lyrical style does indeed take Edward Lear’s nonsense tale one step further and is a jolly expedition for the reader to navigate through. As you’d expect, it’s a very good picture book. Then I found an even better one.

Jacki HoskingWith ute-fulls of respect to Donaldson and Voake, Jackie Hosking’s and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall’s debut creation of The Croc and The Platypus is a very, very good picture book.

Fans of Lear’s will relish the lilting musical quality of Hosking’s verse as she transports us as effortlessly as Julia Donaldson through the Australian outback with as an incongruous couple as the Owl and Pussycat; Croc and Platypus.

Hosking is spot on with this ingenious retelling of a childhood classic however, somehow makes it feel much more loose and flowing and bizarrely, even easier to read than the original. Her narrative sings with a down-to-earth gritty realism but is delivered with Lear’s same congenial, nonsensical joie de vive. Hub caps ring and didgeridoos blow as Platypus and Croc ‘play up a hullabaloo…baloo.’

I love Hosking’s incorporation of recognisable Aussie icons; Uluru, tea and damper and lamingtons to name a few as Croc and Platypus trundle across the plains eventually camping under the Southern Cross after cleverly procuring their tent. For those not so familiar with ‘click go the shears’ terminology, there’s even a neat little glossary.

Extra applause must go to Marjorie Crosby-Fairall for her truly epic acrylic and pencilled illustrations. The outback is vast and engulfing as are the illustrations of this picture book with gorgeously generous helpings of full colour, movement and sparkle on every single page.

Hosking’s appreciation of, commitment to and finesse with the rhyming word are self-evident. She works them all to perfection in this richly Aussie-flavoured celebration about embracing unlikely friendships and sharing stellar moments with those closest to you whilst enjoying a good old Aussie road trip.

The Croc and the Platypus has every reason to glow proudly alongside The Owl and the Pussycat, and dare I suggest outshine it. Croc and Platypus launch invite June 2014

Discover and rediscover all three books here. For those in Sydney around early July, make sure you don’t miss Jackie’s launch of The Croc and the Platypus.

Walker Books Australia June 2014

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18. Launch and award …

I’m a bit late in congratulating our CAT artist Martha Aviles (in Mexico) for her SILVER MEDAL Honor from the SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD  presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries.  This award for STONES FOR GRANDPA from KarBen/Lerner publishing, is in the younger readers category. CONGRATULATIONS all!

Stones Aviles

ALSO, Priscilla Burris illustrated a wonderful trade picture book that just launched…. EDGAR’S SECOND WORD written by Audrey Vernick from Clarion.  It’s so endearing and might help an older impatient sibling should you know one!  congratulations Priscilla!

edgar COVER (3).jpgBurris


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19.

I've been a bad, slow, blogger lately (even more than usual!) but my excuse, apart from having a wonderful four weeks of travel, inspiration and, yes, even a holiday – is that I was copyediting, rereading, proofing and driving my editors crazy with last minute fiddling around with commas and words in Rescue on Nim's Island, right up to the time I left.

A month later, when I got home, my advance copies were waiting for me. Some have already been mailed to the winners of the Name the Character competition. But most of the books are on their way to bookstores now, for release at the end of the month, and so I'll be doing some running around to share them.

So here's a list of some of the events I'm doing in the next few weeks. (Though just if you were wondering, the NSW Writers' Centre Festival and CYA conference weren't organised around my book's release - just a very happy coincidence for me.)

                        Panel on Page to Stage and Screen
                        Panel on Writing, Pitching and Publishing a Series
  
July 1, 2014:  RESCUE ON NIM'S ISLAND  published (Australia)
  
July 3, 2014:  Carindale Library AuthorEvent, Carindale, QLD, Australia,
                    2:00 pm
  
July 4, 2014 Black Cat Books, Paddington, QLD, Australia
                 Launch of Rescue on Nim's Island                 11:00
  
July 8, 2014: East Melbourne Library Author Event, with the Little Bookroom              2:00pm
Address: 122 George Street, East Melbourne, VIC, 3002
Library Contact: Fiona Campbell, Events Manager, P: (03) 9658 9658
  
July 9-11, 2014: Mornington Peninsula Library Author Events 
July 9: Mornington Library, 2:30 
July 10, Rosebud Library, 2:30
July 11, Hastings Library, 11:00
  
July 26, 2014, Petersen's Books, Hastings,  launch of Rescue on  Nim's Island -launched by Sue Flockhart, commissioning editor, Allen & Unwin.
          2:00 pm           
Come dressed as one of the new visitors to Nim's Island!
           Colouring competition
           RSVP to info@teachersresource.com.au by 23 July


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20. Celebrating Trans Bodies, Trans Selves

We kicked-off Pride Month early this year, celebrating the publication of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community in late May. Taking Our Bodies, Our Selves as its model, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is an all-encompassing resource for the transgender community and any one looking for information. Covering heath, legal, cultural and social questions, history, theory and more, the book weaves in anonymous quotes and testimonials from transgender individuals, adding hundreds of voices to share the diversity of transgender experience.  Contributors, allies, friends, family members and community leaders gathered in the lobby of Oxford University Press’ New York office to fête the book. Here are some highlights from the evening.



Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, MA, is a psychiatry resident at New York University Medical Center. She is a board member of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, as well as the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists. She is a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City, a group for service providers interested in the health of gender non-conforming children and adolescents. She is the editor of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community.

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21. Picturebook Complete: 1,000,000 points!  Super exciting...
















Picturebook Complete: 1,000,000 points! 

Super exciting announcement! As some of you might have heard, the picturebook I have been working on from Feb- June has been printed and is (almost!) available for purchase. I just received my hardcopy this weekend, and it is beautiful!

When I was contacted by Plymouth Puzzles about creating a storybook to accompany their upcoming line of Christmas reusable gift bags I was thrilled! The book, Santa’s New Tradition, follows the story of a little girl as she discovers the waste caused by wrapping paper and decides to make a positive change. 

I really enjoyed working on this book and am super excited to see it up for sale (looks like late August/ Early September release).

More coming on my process of idea to final later- and thanks for reading!















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22. Lights, camera. . .CAKE!


I ask a lot of my kids.

I ask them to read manuscripts and give me feedback. I ply them (and their friends) with questions about the age-appropriateness of certain (sometimes embarrassing) grade school behaviors. I make them stop what they're doing and quickly write down a story idea when I'm elbow-deep in potting soil or cooking dinner (or in the shower) and can't jot it down myself.

They put up with all of it, as I imagine most offspring of children's book writers do—and I'm grateful.

Recently though, I asked more of them than ever. "Um, girls how do you feel about standing in a hot kitchen in the middle of summer for four hours while three strangers make you crack and egg nine times in a row?"

Well of course, I didn't say it like that. 

It was more like, "Guess what?! You get to be on YouTube! Eating cake!"

As it happened, the experience was much closer to the latter than the former. With the help of a brilliant group of filmmakers—writer/ producer/director Leigh Medeiros, cinematographer JJ Rok, and sound tech Tebello Rose—we created a little piece of art, for our little piece of art.

Baking Day at Grandma's is a very personal story. It's based on memories of my Grandma Rose, as well as the baking traditions my mom began with our girls. The art is inspired by the Adirondack region of New York, specifically Lake George, where I spent summers (and quite a few winters weeks) as a child. Each spread contains a nod to our families—Grandma Bear's cabin, touches of her furniture, the cookbook, the victrola—all come from the people and places we love. It's a love letter to our family, and a celebration I hope many readers and families will enjoy. As we set out to make the book trailer, we hoped to capture the personal nature of the book, to let readers know that like Grandma Rosie's chocolate cake—the book was made with love.

When the day of the shoot came, I felt confident in our concept. Like any gifted documentarian, Leigh had spent a great deal of time getting to know my story. She'd browsed old photos with me, and listened as I recounted memories of baking with my grandma. She hadn't wanted to over-script it. Sure, we had a shot list and some talking points, but the real gems were going to be found in the unscripted moments, we decided.

If I had one concern going into the day, it was about the kids. Would they freeze up? Look at the camera too much? Get grumpy? Especially my little one. She's three and generally well behaved, but...well... she's three.

Both Leigh and JJ did a wonderful job making the kids (and all of us) feel comfortable. When I asked for some direction before we began, Leigh smiled and said to me, "Just bake a cake, and don't worry about us." I wasn't sure it would be possible, with the lights and the big boom mic and the camera pointing at us, but to my amazement, once the measuring and the mixing began, we did sort of forget about the camera. I was a mom, baking with my kids. It was fun! And messy. Flour dusted every surface; there were egg shells in the sink and splatters of chocolate cake batter on our aprons. It was the the real deal, not the scrubbed up version. (Ok, I admit, I cleaned my house for two days before the crew arrived, but the baking scene was authentic.)

The kids did great! And most importantly, they enjoyed it. Now, in addition to a lovely book trailer, I have a little time capsule to help me remember the sounds, spills, giggles, bloopers and joy of baking with my girls.

It's really a pleasure to get to share this heartfelt collaboration with the you. Thanks for cheering us on, spreading the word, and making the homestretch of this book's journey to publication so delicious! I'll say thank you in every way I can think of, including offering free baking day recipe cards and gift tags if you'd like to host your own baking day at home, or make a special treat with grandparents for Grandparent's Day on September 7th.

For bookstores, libraries, classrooms and home-schoolers, I'll soon be adding a downloadable story hour kit to my website, which includes a Baking Day at Grandma's song (!!!) composed and recorded by my talented friends at Little Hands, reading prompts, activities, posters, crafts, snack suggestions—everything you'll need to get kids, reading, dancing, singing and connecting with the book.

For bloggers, I'll have an extra-special Baking Day at Grandma's giveaway (to be revealed soon)!

I hope you'll stay tuned as we cook (and bake) up new goodies and giveaways! (One great way to keep up to date and connected is to join my new mailing list.)

Until then, happy reading and baking! Here's a peek at the book trailer. . .




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23. WELCOME HUMPHREY!: BK Launch!

We at CAT agency are so happy to help Launch the wonderfully friendly new series about the Hamster Humphrey and his Tiny Tales from Penguin Putnam!  See his first two books here, and a little video about how he is created by our artist PRISCILLA BURRIS         https://vimeo.com/104481200

Humphrey1 (3)

Humphrey2 (3)


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24. jampires book launch!


Photo by James Petrie

Hee hee, it's great fun to stand in the middle of a field wearing sparkly red platform heels when everyone else is walking around in wellies. This weekend my co-author David O'Connell and I launched our new picture book, Jampires, at The Big Feastival in Oxfordshire.


Photo by James Petrie

I couldn't believe it, I forgot to pack my Bakewell Tart hat! Nooooo!


Photo by Dave Warren

But never mind, our book was well and truly launched with a dramatic reading by David and me. (Dave's very good at doing the voices.) And I can rock a converted poodle skirt. (Thanks to my mum for helping me sew on all the Jampires.)


Photo by Neill Cameron

And I taught everyone how to draw a Jampire! 'But what is a Jampire?' you may ask. Well, if you've ever bitten into a jam doughnut and found it disappointingly dry and jamless, they are the culprits. These little critters suck out them jam. They LOVE jam. Our book is basically a hymn to jam.


Photo by James Petrie

And you can learn how to draw a Jampire, too! David and I have put all sorts of goodies on our new website, so do have fun exploring it: jampires.com


View as a PDF

We have masks, too! Check out the website! :)


Photo by James Petrie


Since the Jampires are obsessed with jam, we had actual jam on site...


Photo by James Petrie

...and an actual jam maker, who has joined our Jampires team! Meet Emma Preston-Dunlop, jam maker extraordinaire, who gave us a little lesson on how to make jam, and treated us to samples of her tasty concoctions.


Photo by James Petrie

Emma runs a jam company called The Butch Institute and while raspberry jam is always my favourite, she gives it a real run for its money with her Cherry Bakewell with amaretto syrup and almonds.


Photo by James Petrie

Since The Big Feastival's all about food, we explored, and went straight for the PIE. Gotta love a pie. Emma taught me how to eat it from a carton without getting gravy all over my skirt.


Photo by James Petrie

And our lovely publisher, David Fickling, cycled all the way over from Oxford - a two-hour journey across many hills - to be there for our launch. Hurrah! (He didn't cycle in his signature bowtie, but he put it on as soon as he arrived.)


Photo by James Petrie

JAM. Who doesn't dream about The Great Jam Pot in the Sky? *wistful sigh*



Dave and I couldn't be there both days, so actor Devon Black stepped in and led her own Jampires session on the Sunday, which looked brilliant. She made a costume, a whole new show, and I hear she did a brilliant job! Thank you SO MUCH, Devon!!


Photo tweeted by Philippa Perry

Feastival had some rival vampiric creatures, not all as small and cuddly as our Jampire.


Photo by James Petrie

After a little scare, he got a cuddle from Neill Cameron, and everything was all right.



So Neill was mostly busy drawing comic characters over in The Phoenix Comic area. He's the amazing creator of stories such as Pirates of Pangaea, Mega Robo Bros and has a new book out, How to Make Awesome Comics. Here's a Cyborg Mode Jamie Oliver (the chef who hosts the festival, along with Blur bassist-turned-cheesemaking-farmer Alex James):



The drive to Feastival was quite a long one, and our friend James Petrie was a hero and gave us all a lift in his car. As you can see, Dave and I were terrible back-seat drivers.



Lovely Dave. It's not just his genius talent, you see; I mostly work with him because he has such beautiful flowing tresses.



Big group selfie! Huge thanks to David Fickling for publishing us, Emma for being such a great Jam Master, Devon for Sunday's awesomeness, Feastival for hosting us, fab publicist Philippa Perry for organising the day, James for driving and photos, and Ann Lam for our knitted Jampire. Jammy times!



Head over to the David Fickling Books website to see their blog about Jampires, and jampires.com for all your jammy needs.

Jammy Twitter links: @davidoconnell, @DFB_Storyhouse, @ButchInstitue, #JAMPIRES

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25. gary's garden launch!

Last night the Fleece Station studio was out in force to celebrate the launch of Gary Northfield's new comic book, Gary's Garden! You may recognise Gary's Garden as a frequent strip in The Phoenix Comic, one of the comics in there that the parents like as much as the kids do because it works on so many levels.



Elissa Elwick and I both wore Chompy the Caterpillar-themed garb. Gary's Garden makes the perfect prezzie for kids (say, 5+ with some help reading), adults who love nature and gardening, anyone who likes a good laugh. Buy it here a The Phoenix Comic online shop! Gary works so hard on these comic strips, has such great drawing skills an perfectly pitched comic timing; we're all very proud of him. Look, Lauren O'Farrell (aka Deadly Knitshade) makes a perfect perch for Bob the Butterfly!




And here are the lovely Ficklings - David and Caro - who make it happen, at David Fickling Books, based in Oxford. It was also great to see Gary's Garden amazing designer Ness Wood (who also designed Jampires!), DFB's Phil Earle and John Dickinson. Jonathan Main and Justine Crow of Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace hosted the party, and they've been great supporters of lots of our books, we love our indie. I love buying books from them, even online; they stock a great selection, including lots of beautiful graphic novels.



Gary's sister, Susannah Northfield, made the cake!



...Bits of which were consumed most elegantly by Gary and his partner Nicky Evans.



Speaking of elegance, just as David Fickling was giving his speech, a giant bird swooped down and placed a wafer upon his lips. We all bowed our heads for a moment of awed silence for this great book.



Gary made a big window display; here he is stage directing Nicky in setting it up.



There were a couple other Phoenix Comic people present: the fabulous Jamie Smart (Bunny vs Monkey, also out now as a book!) and the excellent Matt Baxter, who creates the Live from HQ strip with the Phoenix comic-character editorial crew. I didn't manage to get a photo of Jamie, but here's Matt. And you can just spot illustrator and app-creator Heather Kilgour over his shoulder! There were quite a few comics makers there that I didn't manage to photograph, including Francesca Cassavetti.



Hee hee, another hat photo.



This Thursday (called 'Super Thursday' in publishing) was also the official publication date for my book with David O'Connell, Jampires, and wow, a couple of them showed up!



It was really Gary's night, but we had a happy mix of new creative stuff.



I was very proud of my Chompy hat, made from a pencil case, foam balls and pipe cleaners from Poundland, some felt, a yoghurt pot and a coat hanger.



When creating Gary-themed characters, it's very important to get the wonky eyes right.



Before the launch, we went for a top-notch Afternoon Tea in Alex Milway and Katie Lee's garden (Gary lived with them for a couple years while he was working on Gary's Garden), and Dave and I brought along some of our local Butch Institute Jampires-themed jam.



Huge congratulations, Gary! Gary's Garden is amazing, and everyone, spread the word and help it fly off the shelves! And subscribe to The Phoenix Comic for ongoing Gary's Garden goodness.

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