Sunday, October 16, 2016

Alby and the Cat review

So chuffed with this review from Mum's Delivery for my new children's book, 'Alby and the Cat: All Holed Up'.  Thank you Sara!  So glad you enjoyed the book!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Alby and the Cat

The Alby and the Cat adventures continue with my new book, 'Alby and the Cat: All Holed Up', which has just been released and is available now!

These books are close to my heart, as you know.  My Dad was blinded in an industrial accident many years ago and he had a beautiful black Labrador Guide Dog named Duke.  Duke not only provided Dad with independence and gave him the confidence to face the world again, he was his best friend, and when he died of bone cancer after over 10 years of service, Dad was devastated and swore he would never have another Guide Dog again.  The relationship forged between a visually impaired person and his Guide Dog is like no other.  Dad had to place his total trust in Duke, who literally had Dad's life in his paws.  Their bond was so deep and strong.  Dad didn't want to have to go through the same thing with another dog, and then, another, so he has used his cane ever since. 

It was interesting watching Dad and Duke, and people they came into contact with.  Because Labradors are well accepted by the community and are very people-friendly, people just assumed Duke was a normal pet, even though they knew he helped Dad.  They would come up and pat Duke, sometimes before they even spoke to Dad.  What they didn't realise was, that when Duke was in harness, he was working and couldn't be distracted, or Dad was put at risk.

I wrote these books not only for children, but also for adults, to educate them a little about guide dogs, what they do, and why they make such a difference to the lives of visually impaired people.  The situations in the book are based on situations that Dad is faced with every day. 

The original 'Alby and the Cat' was out of stock so has been revised and reprinted and is also available now!  'Alby and the Cat' and 'Alby and the Cat: Showbusiness' are both on the 2016 Premier's Reading Challenge booklists in Victoria, NSW and SA.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Getting back into it!

Wow, how time flies!

After having six books published in a relatively short period of time, I decided to take a short sabbatical to spend time with my family.  My three boys were heavily into sport.  You name it and they did it.  So a lot of time was spent with them, if not watching them, it was driving them around.  But I wouldn't change it for the world.  You never get that time back, so spending it doing things with your kids is a blessing.

I'd already half-finished a manuscript for my third Alby and the Cat book, so took my time finishing it, then I sent it off to my editor, Nan McNab.  At the time Nan was busy editing for Bryce Courtenay, but I was in no rush, so told her to take her time with it.  I thought no more of it as I was busy with other things.

Then, last year, I was asked to visit the wonderful Flinders Christian Community College in Traralgon for Book Week.  I'd visited Flinders previously.  They have been great supporters of mine, to the extent of having both 'Quizzical' and 'Money Bags' on the Year 5 & 6 booklist.  It was wonderful speaking to the children, and I always bring along my 'Quizmaster' for some fun quiz action.  The children gather around you like you're a rock God.  But I always tell them, I was exactly like them.  I went to school.  I had hobbies.  I grew up and got married.  I now have kids like them. I'm no-one special, I just like to write books, and I'm lucky enough that people want to read them. Anyone can be like me.  You just need to have a dream and want to chase it.  Because that's exactly what I did.  It wasn't easy at first, but it was interesting, even fun.  And I learned a lot. 

That school visit reminded me of how much I enjoy being an author; how rewarding it is to write books for people to read, and to have those people enjoy reading them.

Then, I was invited to be a guest speaker for the Baw Baw Writers' Network alongside fellow author, Michelle Path.  Michelle had just released her first two books, Suki and the Seedling, and Xalien the Purple Alien, and her enthusiasm and love for writing was evident.  She really inspired me and we have kept in contact ever since.

It was these two events that brought the writing bug back.  Writing is such a creative thing.  It's hard to step away from unless you have another outlet, or keep busy with other things.  Luckily I was busy with other things.     

Then, just a few weeks ago, I received my edited Alby manuscript back from Nan!  I went through the edits and Nan's notes, and cannot believe how much I had missed this process, as stressful as it can sometimes be.  It's amazing how a good editor can make a book so much better, just by changing small things.  And Nan is awesome.  It also helps when it's a chapter book for younger readers because the word count is a lot smaller, so the editing doesn't take as long. 

With the editing now done, the manuscript is currently with the wonderful Kim Dingwall, who illustrated Alby and the Cat: Showbusiness.  She is also the niece of the late Allan Cornwell, who was not only a wonderful man, but instrumental in publishing all my books and getting them to the standard that saw them picked up by The Five Mile Press.  It's fantastic to have her on board again.

So, I'm very excited to tell you that some time in the next few months, Alby and the Cat: All Holed Up will be published!
So all you Alby fans, watch out for updates!