Poetry Friday Muster!

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Muster. That’s the Australian term for the American cattle round-up, and it seems appropriate, since I’m sharing my droving book that was published this week.

Look! A herd of cows.

There’s a bird in the herd that stalks as it walks, eating slugs and the bugs that the herd stirred. What else can you see as you follow the cheeky bird?

Bright and playful, this rollicking rhyming picture book with gorgeous sun-soaked illustrations will have little ones hootin’ and a-tootin’!

The Bird in the Herd‘ is the book of patience.

1)  I wrote this story 19 years ago – and I blogged about this on release day. It didn’t actually change much during all that time – mostly tweaks to strengthen the rhyme. The title changed the most! Originally called ‘Muster Mayhem’, it was then called ‘No Cows’ for a number of years – before Linda Mitchell referred to it as ‘A Bird in the Herd’ in a blog comment last year … Funnily enough, about a month after that, my editor questioned ‘No Cows’, and suggested something like ‘A Bird in the Herd’. I cannot imagine why I didn’t think of it myself! But I’m so very grateful Linda and Clair did, because, with the slightest of tweaks, it’s perfect!

2)  I met my illustrator, Renée Treml, 9 years ago, and she has been an absolute treasure to work with!

(Renée had just 3 days from when she read the manuscript to when the illustration competition closed – but she did it! “That’s how much I loved the story❤️,” she says.)

3)  Whilst ‘The Bird in the Herd’ is technically my third published picture book (‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ snuck out during December last year) it was in fact one of my first manuscripts, (written more than three years before ‘This is the Mud!’) – and my second picture book acceptance. It was in progress for 5 years. With COVID and potential shipping delays, we sent it to the printers early, so it’s already been in our hot little hands for 5 months!

Patience is a virtue – but it sure does age a body!😂 The book was written for these two little cuties (OK – there are definitely three cuties in that pic!) but alas, those adorable little farm boys only ever had the unillustrated version. This saddens me – but then I remember that, over the years, whenever I read it aloud during a zillion drafts (as you do, because, rhyme) it would draw my youngest from the furtherest reaches of the house, subtly steadily moving closer and closer, until he was pressed up beside me, because the rhythm of the rhyme would catch him every time. This story is woven into the fabric of our family. And one day, these two men might be reading this book to their own children. With pictures!

My friend Kirsty made a comment on Insta about the perseverance and passion invested in this book. I think they’re the two defining traits of a writer! Kirsty’s comment inspired this poem for today. (You will note the grasshopper, above, who also features on every page of the book.)

Renée has two rather adorable graphic novels that are available in America – with very clever titles! Look out for ‘Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery’ and its sequel, ‘Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature’.

‘The Bird in the Herd’ is not yet published in America. I’m hoping it wings its way there so you can all see it for yourself. To say I love it is an understatement. It is glorious, from cover to cover. (Click to read some reactions.)

And now, over to you! What has your passion and perseverance produced this week? (Hands up if you’re sneaking in with a lamipofri.😹)

* This post was edited to include the book blurb. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 

Release Day: The Bird in the Herd

The egret has landed!

 

19 years ago, I wrote a story for my two farm boys. It’s been a process steeped in memories;
* bouncing ideas around the kitchen table with my parents and sister,
* conferencing with my two small boys (my first and cutest editors),
* truth-testing countless versions and illustrations with my hubby, and
* always, the subtle arrival of my youngest whenever I read it aloud, because the rhythm of the rhyme would draw him every time.

The text was used as an illustration prompt at the 2012 CYA Competition – and Renee Treml’s simple, colourful illustrations caught my eye. They were perfect for young children, and highlighted the humour in the story. We met at the same conference, and I loved the backstory to Renée’s entry – but that’s her story to tell!🙃 Needless to say, I have loved sharing this process with Renee! And I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the team at CYA Conference. This is the third book I have had published, as a direct result of that conference! If you are serious about writing for children, you must check it out.

Renée and I worked with a wonderful team at UQP, who brought colour to the text, and offered an extended page count that gave each character their own spread, and allowed the story to fully develop its rhythm, so that it mooches along like a herd of cattle. (How appropriate!)

19 years ago, I noticed a bird in the herd that stalked as it walked past my kitchen window – and I’m so glad that white cattle egret gave wings to this story. Gratitude to everyone who has played a part in getting us to today – release day. Fly little book-bird!💕

Lamipofri: Named and Framed

Today I’m sharing a new form of poetry with you. It’s called a lamipofri. 

 

Framed:

heads alert
eyes watchful
they scent the moment,
hold pause –

then resume;

munching,
mooching,
……..mowing;

distant cattle
and a window into
my morning view.

Very rough draft © Kathryn Apel – all rights reserved.

 

By this point you are probably wondering; What is a lamipofri? It’s a poetry snapshot that’s quickly scribed, to give people an insight into the world around you at a given point in time – that point being the last minute as you’re scrambling for a Poetry Friday poem to post! Hence the name: LAst MInute of a POetry FRIday! The trick with the lamipofri is to pause, take a moment to look around and share that moment with others. But don’t take too long, or the moment will pass!

Next week, I’m hosting Poetry Friday right here! (You have no idea how many times I’ve scared myself, thinking the date has passed me by and I’ve missed it!) There will be no lamipofri next week! The really exciting news is that, between now and next Friday, I have a new picture book launching into the world, published by UQP, with vibrant, joyful illustrations by Renée Treml, and I am sooo looking forward to sharing more about that with you. For today, here is the cover, artwork by Renee and design by Jo Hunt.

Isn’t it glorious? Reason to smile, right there!

Almost 19 years after the first draft was penned, I will be as happy as a calf in rain, to share this with the world! (There is no rain in this book – but there is a calf, with a whole lot of sentiment attached!)

Thank-you to Karen at Karen Edmisten* for hosting us today. If anyone else is ever inspired to write a lamipofri, tag me in. (You’re not too late for today.😉)

Up and Down on a Rainy Day – New Book!

This week I was thrilled to celebrate the online release of my second picture book – more than eleven and a half years since my first. (How thankful I am for verse novels in between. And more picture books in progress!)

‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ is a simple concept book for the very young, delightfully illustrated by Janet Turner and published by State Library of Queensland in the Stories For Little Queenslanders series. The adorable illustrations capture some of my best memories of rainy day play with our boys.

Stories for Little Queenslanders is a First Five Forever initiative, bringing fun, high-quality picture books full of familiar local places and animals to Queensland kids and their families…stories inspired by people and communities around Queensland. As a teacher, I have seen first-hand how parents who read and interact with their children, set them on a positive path through their schooling. It doesn’t matter how much education parents have had, or what their careers are – if they spend time reading with their kids, it shows! I’m thrilled to have a story selected in this new project that promotes Queensland stories – and the joy (and value!) of reading together during the early years. Cue the warm and snuggly (sometimes wriggly) memories of reading with our farm boys.

The project was birthed during COVID, and was a whirlwind ride to completion. But if there was one thing we needed during COVID it was a creative purpose! I’m thankful to have had this exciting project bubbling away. And to work with such a wonderful team. State Library has created a wealth of content to support the book – and the series. There’s online readings, audio books and digital version to download. There’s even a digital flip-book. As with all my books, I’m collating links in the dropdown tab of this site. Click on Books and scroll down to ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘.

Activity booklet

Click to download.

Books in the series are available in all Queensland Public Libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres – and there are very limited hardcover editions available for sale at the State Library Shop.

Today, I’m uploading ‘Play by the Book: Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘ – a booklet with 16 different activities to engage young children and enhance the reading experience of ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. (Think water-play, mud and fun! Also puppets, drama and colour.) These activities have been prepared with the support of Regional Arts Development Fund, Bundaberg Regional Council and Arts Queensland. I am so thankful for their support of creatives at all times, and especially during this difficult year!

2020 has been challenging, but I am incredibly thankful for this project. And I’m so excited to finally be able to share the news! It didn’t rain on the day it arrived in my letterbox. It didn’t rain on launch day. (We had 20mm in a cracker thunderstorm the day before, though.⚡️) When we get our downpour, you can be assured that I will be UP and down, celebrating!😅

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted by Buffy Silverman – another kidlit poet who loves getting outdoors. Thanks, Buffy!

ping-pong ping-pong
even frogs
sing in the shower

© Kathryn Apel
🌧
🐸

Fit as a Fidget – Hoppy Feet!

I have been determined to blog for Poetry Friday this week, but it wasn’t until I sat down to write the post that it registered … This is launch week for the new poetry anthology HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING, compiled by Syliva Vardell and Janet Wong and published by Pomelo Books. This is particularly exciting, because, I have a poem in the collection, alongside so many friends!

HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING is an anthology of 100 new poems by 90 poets—with STEM and social studies connections, thematic mini-lessons, read aloud tips, and useful activities to help maximize student learning and social-emotional development. Poems involve the whole body and incorporate a wide variety of movements – even deskercise – and current topics, such as life during a pandemic, wearing masks, virtual learning…

My poem was inspired by an active little lad I taught – and his Grandma’s reference to his fidget feet. (We call them jigglers, in our family.) I’ll be sharing my poem as a part of the Pomelo Books Zoom Poetry Party, happening this Saturday at 10am Qld-time. (Which is Friday, 7pm Central Time for American/Canadian peeps.) If you’d like to join us for the party, drop me an email, or a comment, and I’ll send you the link. 🙂

Meanwhile, time to get as fit as a fidget!

Janice Scully is hosting Poetry Friday today at Salt City Verse. I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one sharing snippets from HOP TO IT this week.

Guest Author – Michelle D Evans

MichelleEvansI first met Michelle Dennis Evans through #pblitchat – a twitter-based chat I co-convened at the time, for those who loved or created picture books. Michelle has also been a participant in January Month of Poetry, which I co-ordinate each year – and we continue to interact on Twitter. Michelle has recently indie-published her YA Contemporary novel, Spiralling Out of Control – her first published work. Exciting times!

Given our connection through both poetry and picture books (and the fact that they’re the focus of my blog), I thought I’d ask some questions that stem from these commonalities.

But firstly, welcome Michelle, and congratulations on the release of Spiralling Out of Control. I imagine it has been a busy and exciting week for you, launching Stephanie’s story into the world.

Hello!!! I’m so excited to be here and not just chatting on Twitter or frantically punching out another poem in MoP! And, oh boy, yes! This week has been crazy, daunting, exciting and fun.

Has your experience in writing poetry and picture books influenced how you approach your novel writing?

Absolutely. The discipline needed to write concisely in picture books is also needed in novels. And when I found I just couldn’t get the beginning of my novel to work – I wrote a poem… and that poem is now the intro to Spiralling Out of Control. In fact, I have included several poems throughout this novel. Poems help me get my head around how the characters are really feeling.

Poetry and picture books are both genres that are very often read aloud. Do you read your YA writing aloud during the writing or editing process? How is this beneficial?

Yeah, I would probably read my manuscript out aloud at least three times -once while I’m making sure the story works, then a couple of times when proofreading. I pick up so much more when I read word for word out loud, and I also listen for some kind of natural rhythm to my sentences and paragraphs.

Picture books are very visual – the epitome of show, don’t tell – with illustrations to bring a character to life. While writing Spiralling Out of Control, how did you bring your characters to life and keep them real in your mind – so this could then be portrayed through your words?

I do keep a notepad in front of me with a page of notes and a very messy mind map to help me remember the basic details. I guess I keep the characters alive because I know their personality and their actions and reactions flow from my knowledge who they are.  When I first drafted Spiralling Out of Control, I distanced myself from the main character Stephanie, because what she goes through is quite painful, but with each revision I understood her more, loved her more and found myself wanting to rescue her.

Given our shared Month of Poetry history, I think it’s only fitting to ask you to write a poem (any form, any length) in some way inspired by Stephanie’s story.  It may be one you’ve included in the book, it may be something completely new…  but it has to be a poem.  (The taskmaster is here. :P)

So, I wrote this when I was in Stephanie’s head…

 

Get Me Out Of Here

 

The music pounding in my head

This place too wretched to find a friend

I’ll never ever find my place

I’ll never ever show my face

I’ll let this music blow my mind

It’s loud and fierce to steal the time

I know and want too much now

I won’t find it in this town

Spiralling-Out-of-Control

Just let me head south

Words stuck in my mouth

I want to scream

I scream in my dreams

I want to yell at you

Don’t tell me what to do

How could you misplace me?

I tell you and you don’t see

I’ll show you that I can

I’ll go and live with my friend

I’ll rule my own life

I’ll keep out of strife

Play this music

To hide my emotion

I don’t want your attention

Get me out of here

Never leaving is my fear

To you I have nothing to give

I want out, I want to live

 

There’s a lot of anger and angst in Stephanie’s voice there, Michelle. A real cry for help…

Where can people buy Spiralling out of Control and read more of Stephanie’s story? Is it only available electronically, or is it also available in book form – or is that something that is coming soon?

At this point in time Spiralling Out of Control is only available as an ebook.

At only $1.99 you can buy one for yourself and a couple for your friends… hehehe

Purchase via my website MichelleDennisEvans.com or through Amazon.

Thank you so much for having me here on your blog, allowing me to share a poem and promote my novel today Kat. I can’t wait to hang out with you again in January with MoP … I have another verse novel idea bouncing around in my mind…

Thanks for visiting, Michelle – and for reminding me how fast January is approaching. 😉 All the very best with your writing endeavours, and new book promotions. Enjoy!

PS: Dimity Powell Blog Tour


Today I welcome Dimity Powell to my blog, to talk about her FIRST book – the newly-released, PS: Who Stole Santa’s Mail? 

Congratulations, Dimity. Such an exciting time for you! What a wonderful Christmas YOU will be having this year – if no-one steals Santa’s mail, that is. 😉

Today Dimity is going to be talking about the writing process – and how this first published book has inspired her to continue writing…

Over to you, Dimity.

I began writing when I could properly master the pencil grip. It’s been a continual exploration and accumulation of words and wisdom since that momentous day in kindy. I remember jotting down kids’ book ideas whilst on watch on a super motor yacht as we cruised across the Atlantic, thinking, I’ll write about these properly one day. One day, began around 2008 when I decided to equip my writing satchel in earnest. This is when I really committed to the whole ‘process’ of writing. I did courses, attended workshops, seminars, submitted work, entered competitions, listened carefully, read more, gave up paid employment and last year even learnt how to use Face Book! It’s been a good trip so far. But the training never ever ends.

Hearing the words sing in perfect unison and being moved either to laughter or tears by them is my greatest joy in writing. This is what I want to improve on and most importantly share with children.

Getting it right is the hardest part of writing for me. And finding time for it. I can’t seem to clock on and off to write. I have to write when I can but also when the words want to be written. The two don’t always want to play together.

I don’t think writing is that easy, even when you’re good at it. It involves discipline, skill and technique, and remembering when best and how to use them. But it is easier than most sports for me…I have no eye hand coordination!

The publication of P.S. Who Stole Santa’s Mail? has encouraged me to get on with a second chapter book I began a couple of years ago. I need to reacquaint myself with the characters and their saga before I know if it’s going to ever see the light of day. Creating picture books is my passion. I would love to see a picture book of mine on a shelf somewhere someday. I enjoy writing them and can produce one in days when the fancy strikes, but it takes me ages to perfect them, sometimes years. I am currently polishing a few picture books and short story ideas.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts – and joy – with us, Dimity. Wishing you wonderful sales, and many more exciting publishing opportunities.

PS:  Have a Merry Christmas!

In conjunction with this blog tour, you can go in the draw to win one of three copies of the book PS: Who Stole Santa’s Mail. Send the answer to this question: ‘What do you think Santa wants for Christmas?’ to submissions@morrispublishingaustralia.com In the subject line put, PS: WSSM entry. The competition will close at midnight on November 30th  2012. All entries will be assigned a number, and that number will be put in a draw. The winners will be notified by email.

PS: Who Stole Santa’s Mail can be purchased at your local bookshop, or a signed copy is available from http://morrispublishingaustralia.com. You can get to know Dimity at; Dim Writes Stuff.

To follow Dimity on her blog tour, click the links below;

Kids Book Review 17 November
My Little Bookcase  18 November
Sheryl Gywther  19 November
MPA Australia 20 November
Kat Apel 21 November
Elaine Ouston 22 November
Renee Taprell 23 November
Alison Reynolds 24 November
Buzz Words 25 November
Christine Bell 26 November
Dee White 27 November
Jackie Hosking PIO 28 November
Alphabet Soup 29 November
Angela Sunde 30 November