Some more pics from SCBWI

 Corinne sharing the sugar-hit

Corinne and I easing our way out of frame

Apparently I talk with my hands … a lot … hence  this action-hands shot!

We’ve had a grand old time, and Corinne has become a very good friend. Wonder what we’ll do next?

A final SCBWI adventure

On Saturday, Corinne King and I presented at our final SCBWI meeting in our respective roles as ARA (Assistant Regional Adviser) and helper. We’ve been doing this for eight years and we’ve handed over to the ‘new guard’.

Corinne talked about Serendipity – those delightful coincidences that guide our careers. My topic was ‘Highs and Lows’, and I talked about the fluctuating emotions that are so integral to working as a writer.

Our guest speaker was Kate O’Donnell, a wearer of multiple hats, all of them linked to her love of words and books. Was fabulous to hear her journey to here.

We ended with a handover. From here on, Caz Goodwin is our ARA in Victoria. She will be assisted by Chris Bell, Diana Lawrenson, Marjory Gardner and Betty Sargeant.
It’s been both a long and a short time for Corinne and I. We’ve been privileged to meet some amazing people in our roles, and have brought many of them to present at our meetings. We have seen connections made and projects generated. Writing can be a lonely business, and our aim was always to share knowledge and friendship.
We are both looking forward to attending the next meeting and sitting in the audience!

Posted by Picasa

Welcome Deborah Underwood!

Deborah was the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner for California/Hawaii.

Deborah Underwood worked as a street musician, puzzle writer, jewelry maker, and administrative assistant before embarking upon her career as a children’s author. Her books include The Quiet Book, A Balloon for Isabel, Granny Gomez & Jigsaw, and the easy reader Pirate Mom. She co-writes the Sugar Plum Ballerina chapter book series with Whoopi Goldberg, and has written over 25 nonfiction books on topics ranging from smallpox to ballroom dancing.

The Quiet Book, illustrated by Renata Liwska (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) catalogues the various types of quiets that fill a child’s day: everything from first one awake quiet to thinking of a good reason you were drawing on the wall quiet. A companion volume, The Loud Book, was published in 2011.

Twitter: underwoodwriter
Mailing list:

Welcome Tammi Sauer!

Tammi won the 2011 SCBWI Crystal Kite for Texas/Oklahoma.

Children’s book author Tammi Sauer has sold nine picture books to a number of major publishing houses: Bloomsbury, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster, and Sterling.

Bernadette was mostly monsterly. But underneath the fangs and fur she had a deep…dark…secret. She has (gasp!) a sweet side.

Mostly Monsterly won the 2011 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and the 2011 Oklahoma Book Award. It has also been named a 2010 Scholastic Parent & Child Best Book of the Year.

In addition to writing, Tammi loves to visit schools, read, ski, spend time with family and friends, go to the movies, and eat out as often as possible. What is more, she is hopelessly addicted to checking her email. Tammi and her family live in Edmond, Oklahoma, with way too many pets. To learn more about Tammi, please visit

Welcome Kathryn Erskine!

Kathryn was the Crystal Kite winner for Pennysylvania/Delaware/New Jersey/Wash DC/Virginia/West Virginia/ Maryland for her novel Mockingbird

Kathryn Erskine, a lawyer-turned-author, grew up in six countries, an experience that helps her view life, and her writing, from different perspectives. While covering weighty topics, her books have warmth and humor, making difficult issues approachable. Her novel, MOCKINGBIRD (Philomel 2010), won the (U.S.) 2010 National Book Award, the 2011 International Reading Association’s Award for Middle Grade Fiction, the 2011 Crystal Kite Award, and other honors. Her latest novel, THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE (Philomel, June 2011) is a Junior Library Guild selection and ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee. QUAKING (Philomel 2007) was a 2008 Bank Street Best Book of the Year and a 2008 American Library Association Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. She is a writing instructor and frequent workshop presenter. And she eats way too much chocolate.

MOCKINGBIRD is the story of tolerance and healing as Caitlin, a girl with Asperger’s, comes to terms with the death of her beloved older brother after a school shooting.

You can learn more about Kathryn at her website, blog, Facebook and Twitter

Welcome Marsha!

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s novel Stolen Child is the Crystal Kite Winner for the Americas, which encompasses Canada, Mexico, Central and South America.

She has received numerous awards and honours for her dozen-plus children’s books.

In addition to receiving the Crystal Kite, Stolen Child was shortlisted for the Canadian Children’s Book of the Year, it is a starred CCBC selection, has been nominated for three provincial readers’ choice awards, and was named a best book of the year by both Resource Links and the Ontario Library Association.

Surprisingly, up until the fourth grade, Marsha did not know how to read! She says that after she failed a provincial test, she taught herself how to read with Oliver Twist– a large novel that took her a year to complete. Ever since, Marsha read as many books as she could get her hands on, and had a new dream of becoming an author. After completing an English and Library Science degree, backpacking across Europe, and working for an industrial sales company, Marsha eventually focused on writing. After a hundred rejections, her first book was published in 1996.

about the book:

Nadia arrives in Canada after the end of World War II, from the Displaced Persons’ camp where she has spent the last five years. But troubling memories and dreams begin to haunt her. Who is she really? She sees images of another family, Nazi uniforms, Hitler . . . but can she believe what her dreams are telling her?


Welcome Ann Angel

Crystal Kite Winner for Minnesota/Iowa/Nebraska/Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan/Indiana/Ohio

Ann Angel believes it was amazing fortune that brought Janis Joplin’s music and style into her life when, as a teen, she preferred writing bad poetry and drawing to Janis’s songs over following along with the popular girls. It was that same influence that encouraged Ann to live her own life without compromise.

Since then, Ann has written many young adult biographies. She served as contributing editor for the highly acclaimed Such a Pretty Face, Short Stories About Beauty and is working on young adult fiction. In addition to winning an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and this year’s Kingery/Derleth Award for Book-length Nonfiction from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing has received the ALA’s 2011 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award as well as starred reviews and many other awards. A graduate of Vermont College’s MFA in writing for children and young adults, Ann lives in Wisconsin with her family and teaches writing at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee. She’s working on both fiction and biography these days. You can contact Ann through her web site:

SCBWI Kilmore

SCBWI Victoria has quarterly meetings and each year one of them is in the country. It’s a bit tricky trying to site it somewhere that’s not too far away for Melbourne members to attend, while being accessible to as many non-urban members as possible. These meetings are also open to non-member local writers, illustrators, teachers, librarians, bookshoppers, and any interested others!

This quarterly meeting was in Kilmore. We met in a circular room attached to the library and shire offices. Our first speaker was Lorraine Marwood, talking about the impact of winning the Prime Minister’s Award for her verse novel, Star Jumps.

Second speaker, Kim Rackham, has recently qualified as an early childhood teacher and how her approach to story has been altered by both looking at books in an academic and educative way, and by working so directly with young children. She is new to speaking about her work, although not to writing. She spoke as if she’d been doing it for years!

Corinne King invited all to share in my recent Crystal Kite win. It was a lovely way to celebrate, with cake and sparklers in the midst of book people. The Crystal Kite Award is a peer-voted award, and ‘There Was an Old Sailor’ wouldn’t have won without the votes of SCBWI members. Thank you to them all. Thank you to Corinne for making me cry with her lovely words!

After a luscious afternoon tea, we reassembled to listen to Carole Wilkinson. She talked about her almost accidental introduction to writing fiction and non fiction. We heard about her writing practice (disciplined) and how she moves from idea to story. She also divulged the challenge of research – knowing when to stop researching and to start writing. Her Dragonkeeper books are wonderful and her non fiction fascinating. The afternoon, as always, sped by.

A group of us stayed after the meeting to share dinner then a smaller group travelled to Monegeetta for a writer/illustrator sleepover, and to solve all the problems of the book-related world.

The SCBWI is pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural 2011 Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards.

The Crystal Kite Awards are given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators to recognize great books from the 70 SCBWI regions around the world. Along with the SCBWI Golden Kite Awards, the Crystal Kite Awards are chosen by other children’s book writers and illustrators, making them the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers.

Why am I posting this?
Guess who was the winner for the Australia/New Zealand region?

Yup. There Was An Old Sailor! It’s been a good week.


Yesterday, Susanne Gervay, Corinne King and I went to Marysville, car loaded with books and original art from the Hope Card. The books were donated by SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) members all over the world.

The Black Spur

We were delivering the books and art to Marysville Primary School.

The children listened while we told them about the Hope Card book, about how members all over the world had sent messages of hope to the children of Marysville after the devastating Black Saturday fires in February 2009.

Susanne and Corinne showed some of the original art from the Hope Card book.

A lovely thank you on behalf of the Marysville Primary School students.

This is what it was all about. Official ceremony over, the children began to explore the books.
We spent the next half-hour reading with the children. None of these photos were staged. They were so absorbed that most ceased to notice anything but the book.