I had the opportunity over the last few weeks to work with the amazing Jenny Stubbs and the Ipswich District Teacher Librarian Network as assistant to Jenny in organising the StoryArts Festival Ipswich.
The StoryArts Festival Ipswich began in 1995 as the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature and has been held every two years since then. The festival offers free sessions for children and low cost sessions for adults and young adults with an interest in children’s literature such as teachers, librarians, and emerging writers and illustrators.
The festival increases awareness of the value of the arts in relation to writing and illustration and helps build and maintains increased audiences for children’s literature. The festival inspires young people to buy and read more books and to gain an appreciation of the processes involved in writing and illustrating while also enthusing teachers and parents about the value of stories and encourage them to promote literature to young people.
The festival has grown to be the largest children's literature festival in Australia and wouldn't be able to run without the support from many volunteers from the Ipswich Teacher Librarian Network and Write Links.
As an author I got to present to hundreds of school children in the Prep to Year 2 School Program and Year 3 to Year 4 School Program. For me, this is by far the best part of being an author, to be able to share my stories and enthusiasm for writing and creative arts with children.
As part of my sessions I revealed some of the stories which weren't in Meet Sidney Nolan and for my picture book Oliver's Grumbles I worked with groups of children to act out the story including flying cereal!
The StoryArts Festival has its own dedicated team of volunteer bloggers reporting on most of the festival sessions covering at least one session of each author and illustrator who was in attendance.
Maria Parenti-Baldi wrote this lovely post on one of my sessions with the Year 3s to 4s at the revamped StoryArts Festival website.
Last week I attended two amazing events, the first, the Narelle Oliver Lecture of Children's Literature, by Libby Gleeson.
And the second a symposium on children's literature centres in Australia. Book Links, an amazing organisation, with at its head, Jenny Stubbs, organised both these events. Book Links' aim is to establish a Children's Literature in Queensland and Book Links hopes for this to become a reality with the assistance of the information gleaned from the speakers at the Symposium.
I have written a blog post for the Book Links website on the lecture with Libby Gleeson. For me this lecture came at the right time. For a while now, I have been fascinated by how brain development (and child development and psychology theories) influence how we write for children and how it has set the agenda on how we view picture books in particular. During my own research I hope to share more information on these topics in the future.
Look out for Book Links' next blog post on the Sympsiom by June Perkins.
Patreon is a simple way for you to contribute to my goal of becoming a self-supporting author and illustrator and for you to receive great rewards in return! Find out more at www.Patreon.com/Yvonne
Here is some of what you can expect, from my Patreon page:
Here I am. Looking for patrons, how old-fashioned.
But what else is a grown woman to do when she has resigned her job (other than hawk her body, which admittedly is a teensy bit past its prime.)
Here I am, because I have found my passion. How lucky I am. Right?
Let’s try that again:
Here I am, because I have found my passion, in my late thirties, around the same time that I popped out my last child. Still lucky, but not as convenient.
‘Ooh, that is going to need stitches!’
‘I want to write and illustrate children’s books!’
Well, it went something like that.
Inconvenient, because my passion is not accounting, or engineering, or real estate.
My passion is in the arts, literary and visual and with a fetish for picture books. If I was in my twenties, sharing my house with some kooky housemates with no responsibilities other than to prove myself artistically, things may be different.
But, my kooky housemates are my three sons, my husband, our dog, our run-away cat and our 30 or so tadpoles. And we have bills to pay. And an artistic passion to follow. Dose of guilt anyone?
So here I am, trying to entice those quirky philanthropic billionaires to share some of their wealth so I can continue to follow my dream. If that doesn’t work, I am happy to accept patronage from anyone who would like to support the arts. Unless you are a struggling student in the creative arts. Then you need your vitamins, go and buy a bag of apples instead.
So what can I entice you with?
How about I share my experiences as a struggling self-employed author/ illustrator. I’ll try not to make it depressing and share my thoughts EXCLUSIVELY (imagine that word on a sign surrounded by flashing lights, ooh, and perhaps a touch of smoke machine for that magic touch) with my patrons.
Or, if you would just like to follow me, without the patronage, go ahead, I’ll share some of my illustrations and general going-ons on a regular basis, but without the soul-searching-midlife-crises-esque-slap-stick thoughts. The boring version so to speak. With pretty pictures. So pretty good, really.
I've also thrown in some behind the scenes-looks and opportunities with special rewards and discounts. I'd love get an idea of what other rewards you are interested in, so please let me know.
That’s it. That is all the enticing that I’ve got in me.
Want to ask me a question? I am sure you can do that somewhere on this page. And I’ll answer.
After I pick the kids up from school.
My mother passed away from the complications of breast cancer in August last year. I am so thankful that I had the chance to stay with her and my father for a few weeks in Amsterdam last year, to talk, to reminisce and listen to their memories.
Less than two weeks after I arrived back in Brisbane she died. Seeing someone you love suffer is horrific and being far away, on the other side of the world, is terrible during such times.
My father and brother cared for her over the past years, they stayed close and surrounded her with love. And I spend many hours on the phone with Mama wishing I was closer.
Here I'd like to share one of the ways I have tried to ease my grief and which at times made me feel very close to her.
My father chose this beautiful photo of my mother for the funeral notice and funeral service booklet. It is a photo he took while they were on their first holiday by themselves in Paris. I think they were 17 or 18.
Here is what Mama had to say about the time the photo was taken:
In 1966 gingen papa en ik voor het eerst naar Parijs samen. Want mama vroeg ‘Jullie gaan toch wel op vakantie, he?’ Wel op een aparte kamer, waar ik 's ochtends net deed of mijn bed gebruikt was. Er waren wel waarschuwingen van the voren: "jullie gaan met ze tweeen weg, jullie komen ook met zijn tween terug!"
Translation from Dutch:
In 1966 your Dad and I went to Paris together for the first time. Because my Mum asked 'Are you guys going on holiday?' We stayed in a separate room where I would pretend that that the bed was used in the mornings. We did get warnings before we left: 'It is the two of you leaving, and make sure it is the two of you that return!'
When I got home from the funeral a few weeks later I drew that picture, over and over. It wouldn’t let me go. Then I started drawing my mother as a toddler, at a later age, and on her wedding day. Next I carved and printed these images through my current medium of choice, lino prints.
While I was studying her face closely for each drawing, I imaged what her thoughts may have been at the time the photo was taken, I tried to see the world through her eyes and it made me feel close.
Here are some of the images and the photos they were based on.
They were proud moments, my first picture book Meet Sidney Nolan, illustrated by Sandra Eterovic and part of the wonderful series by Random House Australia, was launched at the Story Arts Festival Ipswich last month and at the Mad Hatters Books shop this month.
Megan Daley from Children's Book Daily has written a wonderful blog post about the Random House Meet Series and about Meet Sidney Nolan in particular. I am also thankful that she took the time to officially launch the book while juggling Story Arts volunteer duties and the joys of parenting sick children.
For the launch at the Mad Hatters Bookshop, it was good friend and writer Rebecca Sheraton who introduced the book.
There were activities for the children, a reading of the book, and give-away of teddy bears wearing Nolan's iconic depiction of Ned Kelly's mask.
Meet Sidney Nolan is now available at most good bookstores and online and includes fabulous teacher's resources.
There were several blog posts and interviews to support Meet Sidney Nolan and my upcoming picture book Oliver's Grumbles. The kidlit community is one of the most supportive communities I have been involved with:
June Perkins http://gumbootspearlz.org/2015/08/10/meet-yvonne-mes-author-of-meet-sidney-nolan/
Kidlit411.com - Author spotlight http://www.kidlit411.com/2015/09/Kidlit411-Author-Spotlight-Yvonne-Mes.html
Carrie On ... Together - October Mystery Author http://www.carriecharleybrown.com/carrie-on-together/october-mystery-author-yvonne-mes
And this personal blog post was especially meaningful to me.
Melanie Hill http://melaniehill.weebly.com/blog/sharing-success
Over the last two weeks I have:
For a fabulous write-up on Meet Sidney Nolan and the Random House Meet... series you can read this post by Megan Daley.
To RSVP for my book launch at Mad Hatters for Meet Sidney Nolan you can go here.
To RSVP for my book launch at Mad Hatters for Oliver's Grumbles you can go here.
Just a quick update to let you know that I am blogging, taking photos, tweeting for Story Arts and active on Facebook as Story Arts as part of Jenny Stubb's Story Arts Festival Ipswich team. Tyrion Perkins and myself are putting up short blog updates on the Story Arts Festival Blog each day.
The school program for primary students has finished today. It was wonderful to see children so excited about books and their literary heroes who wrote and illustrated them.
At the end of each session I attended, children came out smiling and inspired. I am now looking forward to the three days of the adult portion of the festival and of course especially to the pre-launch on Sunday of Meet Sidney Nolan (Penguin Random House Australia).
You can follow the blog posts and updates here: www.storyartsfestivalipswich.wordpress.com
Here is a slide show of some of my favourite photos of Australian authors and illustrators I have taken so far.
Here it is, the cover for my new picture book Oliver's Grumbles!
Giuseppe Poli has done an amazing job on the illustrations and it has been a pleasure to work with the lovely team at Dragon Tales Publishing. Oliver's Grumbles will launch at 10am on the 8th of November at The Mad Hatters Bookshop with fabulous grumpy and happy activities for the little ones. More news to follow soon!
It has been a most wonderful week. I got to hang out with my Write Links buddies yesterday, one of my happiest days each month, and I was interviewed by Amanda Collins from Open Colleges where I first started on the road to learning all I could about writing for children and, of course, I got to see the cover for my latest picture book.
I am looking forward to the day where I can sit down with my own little Grumbly Ones who, at three and five years old, are at just the right age to enjoy this picture book.
I finally got the chance to visit The Mad Hatters Bookshop, which opened in May, on the shores of Manly in Brisbane.
A bookshop opening at a time where more bookshops seem to be closing than is already thrilling, but I was delighted when I walked through the doors and saw how charming it looked.
The Mad Hatters has that quaint romantic bookshop feel but in a modern jacket, at any stage you feel a young Hugh Grant could be stepping through the doors. The books are beautifully displayed, original artwork is exhibited on the walls and in the children’s section there is a gorgeous mural that has been created by Ann-Marie Finn and Angela Grzegrzolka.
The team behind the bookshop and Dragon Tales Publishing are the dynamic Kaylene Hobson and Ann-Marie Finn. The good friends are a great match, Kaylene has a background in finance and is a children’s writer and Ann-Marie is an artist and professional illustrator.
It is no wonder that there is a big focus on children’s books as Kaylene and Ann-Marie exclusively publish children's books. Like the books they publish there is a strong attention to detail and the design of the shop.
Adjoining the bookshop is a dedicated space where the Mad Hatters run regular creative workshops for children, often by guest artists and writers. It is also a great space where children can work on a drawing while parents have time to browse.
Next door is a coffee shop with a beautiful view of Manly harbour. What better place to enjoy your new books!
My picture book, Oliver’s Grumbles, published by Dragon Tales Publishing and illustrated by Giuseppe Poli will launch at the Mad Hatters in October this year. I couldn’t think of a better place.
Read on for an interview with The Mad Hatters owner, Kaylene Hobson.
A bookshop and a publishing company, obviously you have a great love of (children’s) literature, is this a dream come true?
In many ways yes. It is of course a lot of hard work but why not work doing something that you love?
I couldn't agree more. How did you decide on the name of the shop?
We knew we wanted a wonderland for the children's section, and between it being the 150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland and people telling us we were mad for opening a book shop - the name sort of chose itself.
Setting up and running a bookshop and a publishing company while both having a young family sounds like a juggling act. Were there many difficulties to overcome in getting the shop up and running?
Definitely. In addition to the obvious challenges, Ann-Marie and I both have autistic children so managing family and work is often very hard. Part of why we have done this is for the kids. This way, we can work for ourselves and have more flexibility for our families. We had the help of some amazing people in the community with everything from painting to promotion, we couldn't have done it without them.
What makes The Mad Hatters Bookshop unique?
We wanted somewhere that was welcoming and special but we also wanted people to feel that visiting the store was an experience in itself, a book can transport you to another world and we wanted our shop to do that too. We want people to be able to take home a piece of the magic that we are trying to create here.
Where can people find out more about the creative workshops?
By calling in, or phoning - 07 3393 5130. We also post information to Facebook - and are currently working on our website. www.themadhattersbookshop.com.au
What is your vision for the shop, what other plans have you got in store?
We have quite a number of books coming out via Dragon Tales Publishing so we have lots of events planned. We also hope to complete all of our renovations and get even more classes and activities up and running.
Thank you Kaylene for answering my questions, but most of all for creating an inviting place for readers, writers and artists in Brisbane.
At our last Write Links meeting, we had our first collaborative writing session with a specific purpose; to create two children's stories for The Big Draw to be illustrated by the children of Brisbane on Saturday the 22nd of August during Children's Book Week.
This This unique event is a collaboration itself between members of the Brisbane Illustrators Group, the State Library of Queensland, Book Links, Write Links and of course the QLD branch of the Children's Book Council Australia.
Most of us at Write Links were new to writing a collaborative story but were lucky to have among our group the talented Children's Writer Angela Sunde who helped us on our way.
Angela Sunde's team Prana Writers, won the open division National Award and Eastern States Award for the Write-a-Book-in-a-Day competition in 2011.
After several seemingly crazy warm-up exercises we formed two groups to create two stories, one for older children and one for younger children.
Thanks to Angela's warm-up and experience it was relatively easy to come up with the main character, problem and how the story would be resolved. As the stories are for children they had to be action-filled, fast-paced and with a fun topic and in a setting allowing for visual expression.
I was part of the story for younger children. A picture book has 32 pages of which 14 spreads (or 28 pages) will actually be used for the story and for our collaboration we had eight writers! Some of the pages were left purely for illustrations which meant we had one or two spreads each and only a short paragraph to write as word count was to be no more than 500 words. We also benefited from illustrator Anil Tortop perspective during the process ensuring there was enough room for an illustrator's perspective.
During The Big Draw the stories will be spread out along several long tables and children will be able to illustrate the story directly with the text with the help of Brisbane illustrators including the award winning illustrator Lucia Masciullo.
Using Dropbox for collaborative editing sessions Write Links created two fun stories lending themselves well to illustrations. I can't wait to see the result on the 22nd of August.
I hope to see you at The Big Draw, make sure you share the link to this free event!
Children's Writer and Illustrator