After three weeks in Canada, I’m back at my desk and catching my breath. It was an amazing trip in a ridiculously good looking country and I’ll recap some highlights below. But first, some news.
While I was away, the good people at Better Reading released their 2018 Top 50 Kids’ Books – and to my absolute joy, The Mapmaker Chronicles was on the list. It’s a terrific list, jam-packed with big names, classics – and me. Thank you to everyone who voted for Quinn, Zain, Ash and Co – you made my day/week/year!
Click here to see the full list of Better Reading 2018 Top 50 Kids’ Books. (It’s worth noting that it’s best viewed on desktop as the mobile version doesn’t seem to load very well.)
And so to Canada…
The trip was a combination of family holiday, creative inspiration and a little bit of work. I visited the fabulous Kidsbooks in Vancouver, where I met Phyllis (pictured below), Sarah and the rest of the team and signed some copies of The Mapmaker Chronicles series, published in the US and Canada by Kane Miller (if you’re new here, check out their tiny teaser video here).
All of my other photos from the trip are of towering mountains. Or lakes of incandescent blue. Or deep, dark, densely wooded forests.
It’s the kind of landscape that conjures up mystery and adventure at every turn. Particularly when you throw in the added lustre of the possibility of a bear sighting with every hike (I confess, I was a bit nervous about getting too close to a furry friend…).
To give you an idea of what I mean…
But all good things must come to an end, and now I’m back at my desk with a head full of ideas and a full month of Book Week activities ahead of me.
My first appearance for August is at the Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival on 4 August, where I’ll be talking to the fabulous Melinda Marchetta about her life as an author.
I’m really looking forward to it and would love to see you there! You’ll find full program details and bookings here.
Are you new here? I am the Australian author of two epic adventure series for children. Find out more about them by clicking on the titles below.
The Mapmaker Chronicles
The Ateban Cipher
Goodness me, but that was a whirlwind. I can’t believe The Book Of Answers (Ateban Cipher #2) has been out for a week already. The Easter long weekend in the middle, plus the end of daylight savings, has left me with a strange jet-lagged feeling (what is it about that one ‘extra’ hour that makes such a difference?), but I thought I’d put together an update.
This blog is my record of all that goes on, so apologies if you’ve seen some of this on one of my various social media platforms, and “hello” if you’ve seen none of it.
A big thank you to my local booksellers (Dymocks Books Nowra and Dean Swift Books) for inviting me in to sign books for my local community. Our region is so lucky to still be so well served by bookshops (another fantastic bookshop in my area is Boobook On Owen and I hope to get there soon) and I feel blessed that, as an author outside a capital city, my local booksellers are so incredibly supportive.
Support your local bookshops everyone – they do an amazing job!
And, of course, if you’re not local and you’d like a signed copy, head to Booktopia, where I signed a stack before launch day – but get in quick because there aren’t many left. (Handy tip: use this link to order The Book Of Secrets and The Book Of Answers for $25)
First reviews of The Book Of Answers are starting to come through, and I was thrilled with this one from Ashleigh at The Book Muse:
“Gabe’s discoveries were unexpected but worked well with the story – and came at just the right time, with the right pacing. Overall, the elements of The Book of Answers worked really well together, and all the elements tied together nicely at the end. A great read for children aged ten and older, and adults if they like these sorts of stories, and it is a nice quick read as well, which is all down to the well-written pacing of the story.”
Speaking of reviews, Quinn and the rest of the crew of The Mapmaker Chronicles series continue to find fans and friends all over the world. I was absolutely thrilled with this series review by Erik of This Kid Reviews Books:
“I really liked this entire series. Five out of five bookworms all-around! Yay!
Having the books available in the US, the UK, and other territories means that they are finding new readers all the time, which just makes me feel like a proud parent. And, given it was Erik’s fabulous blog that inspired Book Boy to begin his own blog a few years ago, I’m just chuffed with his review of each book (click here to read them all).
Kid reviewers are the best!
Writers might be interested in a couple of podcast chats I’ve had this week.
On this week’s episode (228) of So You Want To Be A Writer, Val and I had a chat about the strange sensations of launch week and why my online community (that’s you!) is so important to me at this time. (If you haven’t discovered my podcast as yet, there’s more info about it here.)
I also talked to Kel Butler from the Writes4Women podcast about author platforms – what they are, why you need one and where to put your energies. Lots to think about.
In related news, for those of you who have young writers and who live on (or near) the south coast, I’m experimenting with some school holiday writing workshops for kids on Wednesday 18 April 2018. There are two sessions, one for kids aged 9-11, one for the 12-14 set.
Click the link for each age group to see all the details and book a spot for your young writer (but be quick – each workshop is limited to 10 young writers and tickets are selling fast).
Okay, I think that just about covers a very big week. Thank you for reading this far and thanks you once again for all your support.
Happy 2018! It’s taking me a little while to wind up this year, but I guess that’s to be expected in the aftermath of Christmas and with the school holidays in full swing.
I’ve decided to kick this year off by continuing my little series of top posts from 2017 (see Top Posts For Writers here).
This time, I’m looking at top posts for readers, mostly due to the aforementioned school holidays. With the long weeks of January stretching out ahead of us, there’s never been a better time to find a new book for your kids, right?
2017 was an amazing year for Your Kid’s Next Read, the Facebook group I co-host with the lovely Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily, when we clocked up our 3000th member.
I’m really proud of the lovely, vibrant, helpful community that we’ve all created and it’s no surprise that most of my top posts for readers are book lists generated from the thousands of recommendations that have been shared in the group.
And here they are, in descending order to number one!
10. 5 Ways To Make Reading Fun For Kids
9. Your Kid’s Next Read: The One Book I’m Buying For Christmas
8. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson… Books To Read Next
7. 21 Tried-And-Tested Books For 13/14-Year-Old Boys
6. The One Book I’m Buying A Boy This Christmas
5. Your Kid’s Next Read: Recommended Reading Lists For Kids 10+, 12+, YA For Tweens
4. 31 Books For Tween Girls With Nothing To Read
3. Simple Book Week Ideas (from Australian authors)
2. The One Book I’m Buying A Girl This Christmas
1. 24 Books For Tween Boys With Nothing To Read
I hope you find the perfect summer read somewhere in these lists!
NB: I’ve kept my list of top 10 posts to those that aren’t about my own books, but if you’re new here and you’d like to learn more about The Mapmaker Chronicles or The Ateban Cipher, my two middle-grade adventure series, follow the links…
I sent out my December newsletter last week, full of writerly goodness, updates and links, but, frankly, one newsletter wasn’t enough to contain all my news as we hurtle towards Christmas and the end of the year.
I’m really looking forward to a break this year, to take stock and think about what’s in store for 2018. I’ve got a couple more posts up my sleeve, of the ‘most popular post’ variety, but first, my final news, reviews and interviews update for 2017.
If you’re based on the south coast or in the Illawarra, don’t miss the Kids’ Day Out at Dapto on Thursday, 18 January, 2018. I’ll be there, giving a writing workshop for kids (and their adults if you fancy), along with a bunch of other amazing authors. This is the program (below), or you can read more about it here.
In other news, I’m opening up bookings for my Skype Coaching sessions for 2018. If you’ve ever wanted to pick my brains about writing and publishing, book an hour of my time and let’s get into it! All details here.
And, in case you missed it, the cover for The Book Of Answers (Ateban Cipher #2) has been revealed! See it here and find out more about the book!
It’s been a busy few weeks for reviews and, I confess, this has gladdened my little authorly heart. Writing a book is such a long, solitary process that it’s beyond thrilling when someone takes the time to share their thoughts on your work.
Sarah from Kids’ Book Review described The Book Of Secrets as ‘a riveting read that hooks you in from the first page and has you connecting immediately with the protagonist and his predicament.’
Thanks to Marie McLean for her review of The Book Of Secrets: “With fast-paced action, this book will appeal to both boys and girls, as teenagers outwit villains, and possess morals and a sense of justice superior to many of their elders.”
I particularly love it when kids review my books. Pip (14) provided an incredibly thoughtful review for Be A Fun Mum.
“Gabe’s character is shaped during the story, influenced by his morals, the people he meets and challenges he faces. These themes resonate with teens today because development of character is extremely important in the adolescence years. It is a time when the world as we know it expands and new ideas are everywhere, so developing integrity and strength within your person is so important. It was great to see that journey exemplified on the page.”
Matilda (11) reviewed the book for Alphabet Soup, an online magazine for kids who love books and writing. ‘I loved this book because at first it seems magical and absurd … but it could actually happen.’
Thanks also to everyone who’s reviewed my books on Goodreads or Amazon this year – so much appreciated.
If you’ve ever wondered where ideas for stories come from, I’ve written a guest post for Kids’ Book Review explaining how my novels are usually based on a question and a feeling, with reference to both The Ateban Cipher and The Mapmaker Chronicles series.
The Australian Writers Centre interviewed me here, all about middle grade fiction – what is it? Who reads it? Should you write it?
And if you’re looking for last-minute book gifts for kids for Christmas, I’ve put together some terrific lists with the help of the Your Kids’ Next Read Facebook group:
12 books by Aussie authors to slip into Christmas stockings
30 brilliant books for girls
21 tried-and-tested books for 13/14 year old boys
21 Christmas book ideas for girls AND boys
And, to finish up, thank you to Hannah Davison for this wonderful image…
I’m over visiting Scarlet Paolicchi at Family Focus blog this week, talking about writing for kids, and the 10 keys to writing a great story.
This post is based on a new workshop I’ve created for school visits called ‘Unlocking The Story Code’, based on, you guessed it, The Book Of Secrets, and so far it’s proved very popular, with great teacher feedback.
I love developing new workshops for classroom visits. My ‘Mapping Your Story’ workshop, themed around The Mapmaker Chronicles, takes in images of beautiful old maps, while the ‘Find Your Writing Superpower’ workshop is full of bright colours and superheroes.
Huge thanks to the fabulous Maxabella Loves who takes all of my ideas and turns them into cracking visual presentations.
If you’d like to find out more about my workshops and author talks for schools (and for adults for that matter), you’ll find some details and contact information here.
And you’ll find the full post of Storywriting For Kids: How to write a great story here.