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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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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?

 

So Much Happening!

The past weeks have been huge here. Life has been huge – so many emotions. Including the overwhelming joy and wonder of rain! (That happened last Friday – and I am still rejoicing.)

watercolour landscape;
a new canvas
reflects the sky

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved

During all that, I’ve been super-busy with final page proofs for my upcoming verse novel 🐌 – and cover design, internal spreads, and final pages for my next picture book🐺, releasing May 2022. What a (busy!) joy it has been to be bouncing between two such very different books. One sweet, gentle, heartfelt free verse. The other a jaunty rhyming picture book with humour and heart. (There will be a cover reveal coming soon for the picture book! Cannot wait to share it with you.) I’m thankful for all the wonderful people I get to work with in publishing, (or who work behind the scenes bringing their skills and passion to the project) and for the friendships I have developed. I truly am blessed and love this writing life!

You are all familiar with my pet snails – that I’ve had for more than 8 months now. I got them during the first week of edits for ‘What Snail Knows’. Which is why one of them is called Snail – for Lucy’s Snail in the book. (I was looking at pics today and am rather gobsmacked by how much Snail and T1 have grown in that time!) This week, on the day I sent my last little tweaks for Final Pages… this ⬇️⬇️⬇️ happened!

And I am all amazement!

Snail eggs! Baby snails are coming… 😮 Snail’s baby snails! 😲 I will keep you posted!!

To cap off a very busy week of all the feelings… Many, many years ago I wrote a poem for a class of Superkids. There have been soooo many Superkids since that time, but how lovely to see that the poem is still powering on! Click the pic below to watch the video.

My post is late – because… busy week!😜 But not too late to link into the Poetry Friday round-up, hosted by Michelle at Michelle Kogan. And not too late to squeeze one more thing into the busyness. I’ve a book event tomorrow morning, at the new Bundaberg Book Boutique! Hoping to see lots of Bundaberg kids there for a reading of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, and activities.

Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing!

Australian Verse Novel Resource – NCACL

The past many months I have been working on a project with the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature, and fellow verse novelist Sally Murphy, to create a resource related to Australian verse novels. I am so pleased to share that the project is complete – and far better than I ever imagined possible. In short, it looks amazing!

I am super-excited that the Australian Verse Novel Resource is now live! Australia has a rich history with verse novels, and it is so good to have a centralised jump-off point for readers and educators alike, to find and read more and more of these wonderful books. I’m also proud that this resource can fly a flag on the world’s stage, for a genre that Australia has championed for so long.

The resource will be launched (both in-person and online) by the highly respected Aussie author of many genres, Jackie French, AM. The 5pm AEDT launch time won’t work for friends in the Northern hemisphere – but the Australian Verse Novel Resource itself is timeless. And I most definitely recommend that you check it out!

 

The Australian Verse Novel Resource provides a comprehensive listing of titles, including; annotations, themes, useful resources, awards and Australian curriculum. The Resource is intended to help educators, librarians, readers and academics identify and explore Australian verse novels. I’m pretty confident it delivers. 🙂

In the lead-up to the launch I was interviewed by the lovely, knowledgeable and very generous Joy Lawn on her blog, Paperbark Words. It kind of feels like I’ve peeled back a portion of my skull, committing things to paper that I’ve not done before – but I so appreciate Joy’s questions and observations, and the way she had me both delving into the past, and considering future practises.

 

Be sure to have a cuppa on hand, because it is a longish read.🙃

And don’t forget to check out this week’s links for Poetry Friday at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Because you can never have too much poetry. Thanks, Matt.

Coming Soon! What Snail Knows

I am delighted to share the cover of my upcoming verse novel with you. Illustrated by Mandy Foot and published by UQP, What Snail Knows will be releasing March 2022 in Australia.

Some of the words that have been used to describe it thus far include; delicate, gorgeous and whimsical, pretty and fairytale. I’m utterly charmed. But don’t be fooled – because there’s toads and things inside! But mostly, there’s a sweet and sensitive little girl called Lucy. And Snail. So much Snail!💕

A moving verse novel for younger readers about a shy girl coming out of her shell with a little help from her pet snail.

Lucy and Dad move a lot, so it’s hard to make friends. Luckily, she has Snail, the perfect pet for a lonely girl. If only she had her own shell to hide in each 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. But can she convince her Dad to stay?

A story about making friends and finding where you belong.

Available for pre-order now, via the UQP website.

Special shout-out to the lovely Linda Mitchell, who messaged me offering to be a beta-reader at a time when I was swirling in doubts. If it wasn’t for you, this manuscript might still be hiding in the snail shell that is my computer. And that’s the truth! 💕

No poem from me today – just this gorgeous cover, and the promise of many more poems inside!

Mary Lee is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up, which promises many more poems, too. You’ll find it here; https://ayearofreading.org. Thanks, Mary Lee!

Nothing… 😶

I’m rather delighted to share another short poem published on the  Dirigible Balloon this week. Contrary to what you might think, it’s a poem where I have nothing to say. Intrigued? You can read (and hear) more here.

I’m also excited to say that I’ve had a sneak peek at the new Australian verse novel resource that a small team of us have been working on – and it is amazing! I’m so excited that it is almost ready to unveil for the world. I’ve always known Australia has a rich history in verse novels, and appreciated the support of my publisher, UQP, who are so much a part of that rich history, but who knew that we (Australia) have published so many for children!

Here is an interesting fact I learnt this week, in a blog post by Steven Herrick on the release of his new novel, ‘How to Repaint a Life’. Steven writes;

I’d like to acknowledge Leonie Tyle and UQP, who twenty-five years ago had the courage to release the first verse novel for young adults ever published in Australia. They followed this a few years later with the first verse novel for children ever published. Both were happily written by me.

You can read Steven’s full blog post here; https://poetryfootballtravel.blogspot.com

Catherine at Reading to the Core has the Poetry Friday round-up for today. And I have lads home at intervals over the weekend, and a plan to enjoy our short time together again. But I will look to catching up with your posts, even if I don’t get to comment much this week. Whatever your weekend involves, I hope it is wonderful!

What a Snail Knows – and What it Doesn’t!

Last week the Poetry Friday crew were sharing What the _______ Knows poems, thanks to a Poetry Peeps challenge – but because I’ve been erratic with my Poetry Friday posts, I was behind, and missed it. I loved the prompt – and felt a double connection to it, because my next younger reader verse (releasing March 2022) is called, ‘What Snail Knows’. (Readers of ‘Too Many Friends’ might remember Lucy, a very quiet little character from that book who had a pet snail… that looks like a snail… called Snail. Well – this is Lucy’s story. And Snail’s.)

The topic of my poem is therefore pretty obvious. The outcome of my first poem (the second one here) is not! (I broke form with one line – and then the title, too – because I’m pretty sure the average snail does NOT know this! Nor do I speak from experience on the matter – since I. Could. Not.)

What a Snail Knows

What does a snail know?
Don’t be like a garden worm.
Put your foot down, then stand firm!
Snails glide – but earthworms squirm.

What does a snail know?
Wonder sets your eyes on stalks,
so take the t-i-m-e to have a gawk.
Sssslowly ssssslide. Don’t run. Or walk.

      🌱        🐌_________

What a Snail Does NOT Know

What does a snail know?
The freshest seedlings taste sublime,
To munch a morsel is no crime –
unless they track your trail of slime!

What does a snail not know?
When simmered with a splash of lime,
or sautéed with a sprig of thyme,
it’s said that snails taste sublime!

© Kathryn Apel 2021 – All rights reserved.

Spoiler alert: Snail does not meet with thyme or lime in my verse novel!

In other news… I was recently interviewed for the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) seasonal magazine, ‘Ruth’. The Spring edition with the three-page article about my writing journey – especially in relation to ‘The Bird in the Herd’, is out now! I wasn’t familiar with the magazine – but having seen it, I’m impressed. It has lovely, thick paperstock and feels (and sounds) quite edible. Such a great variety of articles, too. Very real! Not a gossip magazine.

AND in a lovely snail-mail day… ‘Bully on the Bus’ went to reprint again, and I am actually quite chuffed about this – because I was looking at the imprint page, and there’s a lot to like about that!

Heidi has the Poetry Friday link-up this week – so make like a snail and slide across to my juicy little universe for some tasty morsels. (Or some stalky-gawks.)

Book Trailer – The Bird in the Herd

A quick post for me this week. I’ll use my words in the comments as I do the rounds of Poetry Friday.

The Bird was to spread its wings at the Brisbane Ekka, starting this weekend – and this trailer was made in preparation for that. Alas, you know what I’m going to say… COVID and cancellations go hand-in-hand. I’m so disappointed for everyone who has poured so much work into Ekka prep. It was so close! BUT – I am very much in favour of the lockdowns that help to bring outbreaks under control again. And I’m thankful to everyone who follows directives.

I’m not sorry I had some motivation to make this trailer. Hoping it will give all those who are in lockdown a breath of country air and goodness.🐮 A hoot and a toot to you!🤠 (You’ll also find it on the relevant pages under the Books and the Kids’ Stuff tabs – if you’re ever looking for it in the future.)

Mary Lee is hosting us this week – with a beautiful villanelle inspired by a wonderful clunker line by Linda Mitchell. Do click across and read it! I know many teachers who it would resonate with. But it’s not just for teachers.