The Fix It Man book launch

the fix it man book launch

On Saturday 25th March after another inspirational meeting with my writing buddies in The Ten Penners, I went to see Dimity Powell launch her truly heartfelt book The FIX IT Man. To say it was a beautiful presentation is an understatement.

The time and effort Dimity and her supporters put into launching this book, matched by Nicky Johnstone’s superb illustrations. I did have a tear in my eye when I heard the story for the first time The Fix it Man book launch DPon the day. Who knew that facing grief and moving forward with life could so be put so succinctly in a children’s picture book? I love it. The FIX IT Man cover

The fact as Dimity explained briefly, that she and Nicky took eighteen months to complete this work only goes to show that beautiful books can be masterpieces in their own right. Well done ladies! You are a true inspiration to aspiring picture book authors and illustrators. And of course to groups like The Ten Penners who are striving to create entertaining and thought-provoking topical stories for children aged eight to twelve-year-olds.

Somerset 2017 – Wonderful Wednesday summary …

Yes, it rained and the ground was squelchy! Yes, it was hot in the marquees! Did I mind? Not a bit. It was a great day. I only wish I had been able to go to more sessions.

Robet Newton Somerset 2017I started the day with Robert Newton, a firefighter and writer who said he could see himself retiring from firefighting but never from writing.

He never wanted to be a writer growing up but when his brother moved overseas he wanted to keep in touch so he started writing letters. Life was a bit boring so he’d send stories of embellished childhood memories. His brother said, ‘these are good, you should do something with them.’ That was the only encouragement he’d ever had for anything other than sport. It was the start of his obsession with writing and creating characters first. His books published to date are: RunnerWhen We Were TwoThe Black Dog GangSaturday Morning, Mozart and Burnt ToastMr Romanov’s Garden in the SkyThe Khaki KidMy Name Is Will Thompson, for children all developed to tackle difficult subjects in a way kids can relate to. He was a very engaging speaker. The picture above is of him signing the book I purchased from his works.

Nadia Sunde Sorting Hat Somerst 2017Next session was in the Great Hall and I was able to enjoy the oh’s and ah’s of a large audience of rapt students as Nadia Sunde wove a magical spell in her session playing the role of Professor Francesa Falconette Exploring the Magical World of Harry Potter.

Needless to say, it was a spellbinding session.

Nadia Sunde Somerset 2017The rain departed for enough time for me to leave the Great Hall and walk down on the sodden oval to Marquee Three to go to my next session with Kim Kane.

 

Kim, having being trained as a lawyer, had all her notes on hand. A few images and videos to share Kim Kane Somerset 2017snippets of where her inspiration for stories came from, along with a very old shoe. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about ‘time slip’ novels and how she researched her books. I fear some of the students may not have been so engrossed, but for me, Kim delving into research and where different information led her and affected her writing was fascinating.

As was the case in all the sessions, and has been my experience of Somerset Celebration of Literature that I’ve experienced over the years, the children as the best questions.

Rachael Craw goodreads bio picThe next session was after a lunch break and back in Marquee Three this time to see Rachel Craw. She did delve into the writing process itself. She loves strong female characters and found her first book huge and unwieldy, only being reshaped when she was encouraged by manuscript assessors, who later became editors and then her agent. The result is a series starting with Spark (Spark, #1)Stray (Spark, #2)Shield (Spark, #3)Kill Switch (Spark, #1.1)The Book That Made Me as one of the anthology contributors, Black Room (Spark, #2.1)Scar Tissue (Spark, #3.1). She has trouble letting go of a story and tends to keep editing until the book is forcibly taken from her by her agent. Her stories are coming of age tales with strong drama. I hope to read the whole series in the future.

From then I hurried onto Marquee One to see Soraya Nicholas who writeSoraya Nicholass stories for
younger children about horses in her ‘Starlight Stables’ series. I was particularly interested to hear what she had to say as my granddaughters are mad about horses. I was as surprised as she was when her grade three little people audience were led in to hear her talk. Soraya had pictures of her horses and explained how her covers were photos of three girls and three horses depicting her characters. She loves writing and to keep the image of the characters and personalities of her horses in mind she has a wall of pictures beside her when she writes.

Her books are Pony DetectivesBush Bolts,  Starlight Stables: Bush Bolts (Book 3) Starlight Stables: Saving Starlight (Book 4)Gymkana Hijinks, and Saving Starlight

I bought five books on the day and I’m nearly finished reading ‘Starlight Stables’ Pony Detectives.  I will give this to my granddaughter shortly after I’ve written a review.

That was all the sessions I attended on the day, however, I met and spoke to other authors when in the book tent, or just at the coffee shop. I bought one book because I liked the cover – Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee. I took the opportunity to get the author of that book to sign it too, that was another treat.

Two days to Somerset… who’s counting!

Somerset Celebration of Literature starts this week! Yay

And I’m going to see some great authors. Always so many to choose from but the sessions I’ve chosen are:-

newton-robert-bio-picRobert Newton 9.15 am – YA author 

His first novel, My Name is Will Thompson, was published in 2001. Since then he has written six other novels for young people, including Runner, The Black Dog Gang and When We Were Two, which won the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Nadia Sunde 10.15 am – Exploring the Magical World of Harry Potter Bookssunde-nadia-bio-pic

The role of Professor Francesca Falconette, Harry Potter Enthusiast, is played by award-winning children’s entertainer Nadia Sunde. Nadia Sunde is one of Australia’s most celebrated and highly acclaimed children’s theatre writers and performers.

kane-kim-bio-picKim Kane 11.15 am

Kim Kane was born in London and went on to practise law. Her picture book, Family Forest, was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Awards, and The Vegetable Ark and Esther’s Rainbow were both CBCA Notable Books.

Rachel Craw 12.45craw-rachael-bio-pic

Rachael Craw is the award-winning author of the YA speculative fiction trilogy Spark, Stray
and Shield, with book one being recently optioned for the big screen by Miss Conception Films. Her early years studying drama developed her passion for snappy dialogue and vivid characterisation.

nicholas-soraya-bio-picSoraya Nicholas 1.45

As a horse-crazy girl, Soraya Nicholas dreamt of owning her own pony and riding every day. There were plenty of adventures on horseback throughout her childhood, and lots of stories scribbled in notebooks, which eventually became inspiration for Soraya’s very own pony series, Starlight Stables.

I’m looking forward to a great day out, hoping Somerset doesn’t live up to it’s too hot to handle or muddy quagmire grounds when it rains. It often does but I go prepared!

The Sending -The Obernewtyn Chronicles – Book Six by Isobelle Carmody, Book Review by Jill Smith

 

isobelle carmody profile picAs with all of The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody, this book is difficult to describe briefly. It is simply another episode in the journey Elspeth Gordie is making in the Quest she has been set upon since the first book. Interwoven with her many talents including self-healing, she continues her journey.

This book is divided into three sections. The first is heartwarming in that at Obernewtyn as Guildmistress, her true love Rushton, Guildmaster to Obernewtyn finally returns. They consummate their love and forge a link between them.

The second part of the book is her journey away from her home and life at Obernewtyn and all those she loves. It is a heartbreaking journey she takes with her old and fey cat Maruman, and Gahltha the stallion, both who travel on the dream trails with her as her guardians. This journey takes them to meet up with a pack of wolves who also form a part of Elspeth’s Quest to stop the before time computer machines Sentinel being woken and permanently destroying the world already blighted by the taint of the Great White.

The third part of the book sees Elspeth reunited with those she loves and gives her courage to continue her journey. Her band of friends all learn more about the Quest during a journey across the black lands led by the wolves, facing illness due to the taint and frightening encounters with carnivorous, bat-like creatures along the way. Tthe sending coverhey learn more about themselves, and the journey each of them made to reach this point and to be at Elspeth’s side on this perilous journey.

As a writer, who has been to courses and had been told many fundamentals about writing, one being ‘to limit the number of characters in a story’ as it’s confusing to readers; this book and whole series, does not adhere to that theory, with over five pages of characters listed. All the characters form layers over layers pushing the story further with Elspeth Gordie as the main character.

I found the ending frustrating as the hook leaves the reader gasping to read the next book. After 750 pages this is no small tome.  I eagerly await the final chapter in The Red Queen.

Ice Breaker – The Hidden Series by Lian Tanner, reviewed by Jill Smith

ice-breaker-aust-coverI was in a session at Somerset Literary Festival in March 2016, and attended a session presented by Lian Tanner. I shook her hand and introduced myself. She got ready for her meeting with the students who attended by running on the spot.

The kids came in and she had the kids give her story ideas. They giggled and joked while she helped ask the important what if questions. They answered and a very bad story started to come together. At the end of this exercise, she said ‘funnily enough I didn’t write that’.

Then she read the prologue to Ice Breaker. The kids were gobsmacked. It is so good, such a hook. You long to know what happened to the metal child. So, I had to buy the book.

Three hundred years after the initial escape from the anti-machinists, Petrel is ‘a nothing lian-tannergirl’ barely living aboard the Ice Breaker Oyster. Her friends the rats Mister Smoke and Missus Slink are the only people she trusts. She had no idea that everything was about to change when she alerted the crew to a frozen boy on the ice. They rescued the boy then bad things started to happen. Petrel finds out who her parents were, and that she is not a nothing girl. The boy, Fin, had been left on the ice as a trap, the anti-machinists lure. Will the crew of the Oyster, now working against each other as separate factions come together? Will they be able to wake the sleeping Captain?

This book is wonderfully written and the first of three books in The Hidden Series, and I’m looking forward to reading the others.