Busting Some Moves

I was emailing our lovely Irene recently, to thank her for her sweet snail story, (post to come) and I was lamenting my lack of blogging;

“I hope to share a snippet on my blog – though that is a little erratic of late. (I must blog, fullstop. Funnily enough, Australian publishers are saying that blogging is no longer a platform to invest time in. Which is not why I have stopped blogging. I have just been overwhelmed. And blogging is another form of writing – when I’m actually finding I have so many things demanding my writing – and I just want a little break. (If that makes sense??? The business of writing sure does my head in, sometimes. And I don’t want to lose the JOY of creative/passion writing!))”

(Cue the violins!🎻)

Irene’s reply was so simple;

“I do love our PF community. When I think about where I WANT to be online, it’s there above all else.”

And I thought, me too! I miss my Poetry Friday peeps. Even though I see some of you on other platforms, it isn’t the same as these Poetry Friday rounds. I miss our poetry connections. The inspiration! So – no more guilt for all the pictures and moments I’ve been wanting to share – but haven’t. No more missing out on this community. I am here. For the joy of it. And if sometimes it’s the shortest of posts just to stick my toe in the water, then that’s what I’ll have to do!

Here are my short offerings for today. This past week I’ve been forced to slow down and appreciate the little things; pics and short poetry. Already I’m starting to feel creatively refreshed.

The helmet worked – and has the dents to prove it!

Not a natural early bird, but I’ve seen a few sunrises this week.

Living the dream! I may never regain full use of my arm…

Poetry © Kathryn Apel  ~  All rights reserved

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. I am sure it will be nourishing!

Poetry Friday Round-up and Katch-up!

Have you every got so far behind in your blogging that you just don’t know how to get back on board?

That’s me. These past months. Months that have been so busy… with so much good stuff to blog about, and yet, so little time! I kept delaying… thinking I’d play catch-up – but the gathering momentum just made it harder and harder… until I was buried under overwhelm!

Fast forward to last weekend. When my calendar reminder popped up; HOST Poetry Friday. For a moment there I had dreadful panic, thinking that it was the Friday just passed! But fortunately it was not… It’s today! And you are here! 🙂 WELCOME!

This post isn’t a big catch-up post – though I do hope it starts the ball rolling. And if it doesn’t, I’m fine with that. But here are a couple of inter-related highlights that I thought you might enjoy…

Early August: Presenting in person at StoryArts Festival Ipswich with illustrator of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, Renee Treml. (Also chatting about possible future collaborations…🤫 ) This was so much fun – and having time to hang out with Renee for 5 days was awesome! Click the pic for more snaps. We only presented together on the Monday. All other sessions were individual – and a whole lot of awesome, too!

StoryArts Festival is a rather large festival that runs over 7 days, with about 30 kidlit creators in attendance – many staying onsite in a lovely old mansion. Think, school camp, for creatives! It was soooo much fun – and there are numerous posts on my Insta, to give you more of an idea… Presenting in a cellar was a highlight! (And yes, those bold sections are links to more pics and info on my Instagram page.🙃)

Viewing Tales and Trails, which was opened, coincidentally, while I was in Ipswich. Click the pic to read/see more of this on Instagram. I am totally in love with this project! Kudos to Ipswich Children’s Library. Yes, that is illustrator Janet Turner and I with our book, ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ (Photo credit Lyle Radford) which is now a walk-through garden installation at The Rail Workshop Museum – a gorgeous, rustic (and lush!) location! And yes, the text is in braille, too!  So amazing.

Both of my 2022 releases continue to be well received, and I have loved sharing them at author events. (Though these pictures don’t capture either of them!) You can read snippets of some fantabulous reviews under the relevant Books tabs; ‘What Snail Knows‘, and ‘Miss Understood‘. They make my heart sing!

More recently, I’ve been working on some picture books projects – and productivity has been high! This past week I’ve finished two rhyming picture books that are now polished and on submission. (They have been in progress for some months – hence the quick turnaround. It is not always like this!) The chance to chat with other creators – and with young readers (!) at recent author events was just the boost I needed to push both projects through to completion, and I am very excited about them both!

In amongst all this, I had my final two poetry swaps, generously organised by Tabatha Yeatts. Poetry swaps are the perfect excuse to play with words and creativity – for fun! I love them!

It’s been a delight watching Mary Lee Hahn embrace retirement, and her zest for many (and varied) pursuits. With ‘a stitch in time’ in mind, I settled on a nonet for Mary Lee, celebrating her rapidly developing embroidery skills.

Mandala artwork by Mary Lee Hahn. Poetry © Kathryn Apel.

In pure poetry, I received this stitched haiku from Mary Lee, in return.💙 I’m so very happy to fly the Aussie flag!

My poem for Donna came right down to the wire. But with Donna’s appreciation for floral photography, I decided to pick a little splash of colour – and then focused on the little things. I snuck in two…

What have you all been up to? Please, do share via the comments – and also via the Inlinkz party. I’m preparing to fall down a rabbit hole as I play catch-up, not just on this Poetry Friday round, but also skipping back through previous weeks, too! 

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Sunny Side Up – Opposite Friends

This morning I was surprised by joy in my inbox. Margaret Simon was my PoetrySwap giver for this first round (when I was giving to Margaret, in return!🙃) and her joyful praise poem brought sunshine and smiles into my week.

Thank-you so much for these beautiful, encouraging words, Margaret. Hugging this poem to my heart. And thank-you Tabatha, for once again gifting us poetry; a reason to write, and a joy to receive.

I also wanted to share the link to an Aussie poet who experienced international success this week. I have not read Peter Ramm’s work yet – but I will be hunting it down. I love the backstory to his success. (Until 2016, he had not written a poem since high school.) Click across and read; The small town with a big potato that inspired a global poetry win.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted byCatherine at Reading to the Core. Hoping you all have a fabulous weekend!

Rainy Day Poetry – And Good News!

In February, the Poetry Sisters wrote Exquisite Corpse poems – and invited us to take part. And I did – but never got around to posting! (Story of my life, this year.🤦‍♀️) But during my travels around the North Burnett recently, I brought the exquisite corpse into Poetry Pep-up sessions. They were a great warm-up/ice-breaker activity. We were taken by the way different punctuation can produce different results; and the variety of visual images the same words inspired amongst participants – which was inspiration in itself, for further poetry. Here are some related to rain, which was in abundance at the time. All of them could be punctuated differently – and I’m not even sure that this is my preferred punctuation. 🙂 (You may have other interpretations?)

Pitter like soft feathers; mist falls. Happy thunder. Slip-bright truck-water.

Plop! Like a scout’s whistle, slippery trees, wading; cold tanks … floods.

Swoosh. Trickle like a treat, constant river splash. Quickly shelter. Verandah.

Over. As heavy as golf balls, washy river rattling melancholy chimney-skipping.

A drip hits the tin roof like splattering stones. Sombre castle; puddling, pattering, umbrella splatter.

Wooosh! I jump like a kangaroo; joyous. Puddle-melting, slippery-cloud gumboots.

Swoosh. As heavy as rocks; dark rainbow, dancing, exploring spit-creeks.

Churning like butter; pelting, swirling cool rainbow.

Clear gumboots. Runny wet puddle-drop.

(I was wanting to encourage playful use of onomatopoeia and creative similes – which you will recognise as the start point for these poems.)

Thanks to Karen aKaren Edmisten* who is hosting Poetry Friday today. I’m sure it will be raining creativity!

Oh – but before I go, I must also share the surprising joy I had this week, with the inclusion of ‘Miss Understood’ on the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards Shortlist. I had not expected that delightful bit of news in the same month that it released! (But I’ll take it.💕🐺💕)

Wolfish Grins – Miss Understood

This week saw the release of Miss Understood. She’s my ninth book – and my second release in 2022. (And that is something that still makes me smile, inside and out!)

It’s been so much fun letting this little wolf loose on the world. This is my most sophisticated picture book to date, with lots of piggy puns in a carefully crafted rapping rhyme. Beau’s stellar illustrations, coupled with Rebecca Young’s vision, and Hannah Janzen’s design work, blow me away. (Much like a house of straw, actually). I am so proud of this picture book. It has been a fantabulously fun experience creating it and I am loving sharing it with kids. And adults too! (Because it turns out I’m not the only adult who loves the interplay between text, art and design. It is been garnering praise wherever I’ve shared it. Copies are disappearing fast!)

Miss Understood is a Scholastic Press book from Scholastic Australia. At this stage it’s only available in Australia and New Zealand. I sure hope that changes!

You can find ideas for classroom (and home) use here; Download Teacher’s Notes. But actually, just read it for the fun!

And don’t let that little skunk pass unnoticed…

And adore the endpapers!

💕🐺💕

I’m the wolf, Miss Understood.
You think I’m bad, but I am good.
Those Little Pigs told you a porker —
made it sound like I’m a stalker!

Is the wolf really as BIG and BAD as she seems? Or is she just . . . misunderstood? An irresistible story about being accepted for who you really are.

Over the next two weeks I will be out-and-about doing Storytime readings and conducting Poetry Pep-ups for teens and adults around the North Burnett Region. Check your local libraries for times and locations. You can be sure Miss Understood will be sharing her version of the Three Little Pigs there.

Jama is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday round-up at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. I am fairly confident Jama will not be wolfing pea and yam soup, like those hambones in Miss Understood.🤭

Busy in Brissy

Today’s blog post is coming to you from Busy-Brissy, where I have been loving the chance to connect with readers of all ages – and writing buddies, too. (Though I’ve also missed catching up with a couple, thanks Covid.😿)

Thank-you St Johns Year 7, and St Peters Yr 5 for the warm welcome and wonderful interactions with staff and students. (The snails and I appreciated it!)

At St Peters, every child had read at least one of my verse novels. (And some kids had read three!) Any author event is special, and I love that there are always standout moments in each session – but when kids have read so many of your works, they really understand how you tick… and their questions – their thirst for information! – reflect that. I started the session asking them what they like about verse novels… and they gushed wisdom. I wish I could recall word-for-word the beautiful ways they expressed their appreciation. I can’t. One gem; ‘I love how your words make pictures. You make me feel like I’ve stepped into the story.’ Their insights have filled my cup and reignited my passion.

 

Gems of Wisdom
(Inspired by students)

shape poetry
and imagery
draw readers
into the story

less words
all story

eyes follow
words;
placement places
(and paces)
readers
on the page

can’t miss

the feelings

Draft © Kathryn Apel

Following the third session on my second day, someone commented that I must be exhausted – but I was not! I was energised. I love the chance to share a passion for poetry with kids. (And I’m rather delighted that kids are as fascinated as I am, by snails.)

It was wonderful to meet the librarian who has written the (excellent!) Teachers’ Notes for my UQP books, Christina Wheeler. I’ve always said that if I was the teacher, using my books in the classroom, I would do exactly what Christina has done with my books in the Teachers’ Notes. (I just didn’t know it was Christina until recently.🙃)

And then it was just a hop, skip and jump to meet my publisher Clair Hume and publicist, Jean at UQP. (Wish we’d grabbed a pic, too!)

As if that wasn’t ticking enough boxes, I then got to follow it all up with cuppa and cake with one of my faves, the darling of Brisbane, Samantha Wheeler.

On Saturday, I start school holiday sessions with Brisbane Libraries, including; Toowong, Garden City, Ashgrove, Carindale, Holland Park, Mt Ommaney, Brisbane Square & West End. (Also Helensvale on the Gold Coast.) Bookings are essential, through relevant libraries, and sessions vary – so check to see what is offered, if you live in Brisbane. (Saturday session; Toowong (PB reading/farm themes) and Garden City (teens poetry workshop).

Aside from all this wonderful creative cup-filling, I have been filling my car with prayers (and thanksgiving) as I navigate city traffic in my beautiful little blue Rav. (I cannot tell you how many hours I have stressed this, over recent months!)

Staying Car-lm

Car navigation system
as clear as the confusion
of criss-crossing
carriageways.

Recalculating…

Heidi at my juicy little universe is hosting the Poetry Friday community this week. I look forward to popping in and out during my travels over the coming week – though I may not get to comment much, sorry. I will be on the hop – in that little blue Rav.💙 Stay safe!

Poetry Friday Round-up – Release Week

I cannot believe it is the first week in March already – and yet, here we are, with storms and floods ravaging large areas on the south-east coast of Australia and Ukraine digging deep to show incredible fortitude in the face of aggression. My heart has been heavy. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

And in amongst this turbulence, What Snail Knows slipped quietly into Australian bookshops – followed by beautiful, detailed reviews and so much love. I hadn’t expected such a response – and I am incredibly thankful for those who have taken the time to share. Here’s a little snippet from some of them. (Click the reviewer’s name to read each review in its entirety.) 

💗 Kim Yeoman: I am in awe once again of Kathryn Apel’s skill in weaving together similes, metaphors, alliteration, imagery, rhyme and shape poetry with compassion and creativity to tell Lucy’s story.

💗 Lamont: Lucy is a character that you will fall in love with from the start. This story will be thoroughly enjoyed by junior to middle primary level readers.

💗 Sandy Bigna: This beautifully constructed verse novel for younger readers gently illuminates themes of loneliness, belonging, kindness, friendship and family. It will both break your heart and make you smile. Highly recommended for your 7+ reader.

💗 Barbara Braxton: A most poignant verse novel… a potent story of loneliness, friendship, acceptance, and building and connecting with community.

Mandy Foots light pencil artwork bring Snail and Lucy to life.

To coincide with release week, I was interviewed on the Australian Alphabet Soup blog, so if you’re intrigued about the answer to any of these questions, click the pic to read more.

Australian readers can also leave a comment on UQP’s Facebook or Instagram giveaway posts for your chance to win a copy of the book.

And don’t forget to leave your links below, for the Poetry Friday round-up.

I’m looking forward to catching you all on the rounds.

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Tickled Pink! (Pantone 212)

My goodness. The last few weeks have been rather a fizz of festivity. So many lovely things happening. Advance readers’ copies of ‘What Snail Knows’ have snuck out in the snail mail… And people are starting to say beautiful things. The first two reviewers ‘devoured’ it. (Which sort-of surprised me, since it is a gentle story. Surprised, but delighted me.)

💗 Allayne Webster; Just devoured this beautiful junior fiction…And oh my heartstrings.

💗 Megan Daley; ‘What Snail Knows’ is verse novel greatness and is full of such heart and soul that I had to devour it in one sitting.

💗 It scored a 5⭐️ review from Momo; ‘there is a raw emotional edge to this book. Your heart will break for Lucy but it will soar when you read about the kindness she encounters … This book is a perfect package.’

💗 Mr7 from @cec_loves_to_read, when asked if he liked it; ‘Yes, it was really good, I liked it, quite a lot actually, it was very good.’ His mum had some lovely things to say, too, including; ‘Highly, highly recommended.’

Is it possible for a heart to burst with too much happiness? Because there was more! This week we shared the cover for my upcoming picture book, Miss Understood.

This will be my first book published with Scholastic – who was the first publisher I submitted to… 20 years ago!

Reading the manuscript with Beau Wylie’s pencil illustrations had me laughing out loud the first time I saw them. I love his use of perspective. It’s a little outrageous and just perfect!

And then they added text to the pages… Oh my.

Tweaking and perfecting this book with the lovely Beck Young and Hannah Janzen (book designer) was such fun. The book is going to look a treat! (I have endpaper love.😻)

I am all the anticipation!

And look how pretty they look, side-by-side.💕

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting the Poetry Fridays Round-up at Small Reads for Brighter Days. Laura too is sharing new book joy. (Yay!) Pop across and read for yourself.

Speedy Snails!

Yay and hurray, there was speedy Snail mail in my letterbox this week – advance copies of my March release, What Snail Knows. (You can pre-order your copy here.) And, with the perfect prop, there were just a few photos snapped to mark the occasion. 🙂 (Snail has been waiting and waiting for her day of fame and she was keen to make the most of it! No other snails have had a look in.)

Excuse my damp and rumpled dress. It started drizzling at the letterbox, and I had to walk 1km clutching my parcel – so very grateful it was sent Express, because not only did it arrive super-fast, (Yay for speedy snails!) but it also had plastic packaging to protect it!😅

Here are some fave Snail pics, to mark the occasion. You can be pretty sure more will make an appearance, somewhere.

No new poetry today – but What Snail Knows is a verse novel! A companion story to Too Many Friends – this from the perspective of Lucy. The quiet one, who’s always alone… (So beautifully illustrated by Mandy Foot.)

Lucy and Dad move a lot, so it’s hard to make friends.

Lucy’s glad she has Snail, the perfect pet for a lonely girl. If only she had her own shell to hide in every time she started at a new school.

But this place is different. She likes her teacher, Miss Darling. She likes her classmates, especially Tahnee. She even likes Mei-hui’s van park, where she lives with Dad and Snail. This place feels like home. Can she convince her dad to stay?

If you are missing snail poems, you’ll find a selection of mine here

Or perhaps you’d enjoy this prompt, here to write your own snail (or other pet) poem. Perfect for kids, with their delayed start for school!

Talking of snails… the lovely Irene Latham has her own snail story releasing shortly; Snail’s Ark. (Yes! You definitely need that yellow dress, Irene!) Today Irene is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up at Live Your Poem. How perfect is that?

 

The Little Things

I am determined to post again – so today I’m sharing two poems I’ve had sitting in my files for many-many years. I’d never seen fireflies until I was married. And we still don’t see them often. Didn’t seen them at all during the drought years. But I saw some on Christmas day… and again, two weeks ago.

Fireflies

Fanciful
fireflies
fritter
the night away,
flitting
and flashing
like flickering
festive
fairylights.

By contrast, drought or floods, there are always ants. (And lots of them!)

Ants

Bit by bit
they thieve
and leave.
Left, right,
left, right,
left, right…

Left!

Poems © Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved

Hoping the little critters in your life are sparking your joy – not stealing it!

Someone who sparks my joy is Tabatha – and she’s hosting Poetry Friday this week, at The Opposite of Indifference. (She had some fun animal couplets last week. If you haven’t already seen them, scroll back for a smile.) Thanks Tabatha.