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!