Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Westwords Fundraiser for Blue Mountains Bushfires

me and James Roy
I was privileged to be a part of the fundraiser last Saturday for Blue Mountains bushfire victims, in particular, the children who lost their homes, and of course, all their books in last year's devastating fires. The event, organised by the fabulous Judith Ridge of Westwords, raised over $2000. As a local author, I enjoyed meeting my community and sharing my books with them. Simon Marnie, from ABC radio 703 hosted the event and was a sterling MC. Authors and illustrators attending included:

Deborah Abela, Sarah Ayoub, Aaron Blabey, Wai Chim, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, Sarah Davis, Ursula Dubosarsky, Lea Dunstone, Elizabeth Farrelly, Anna Fienberg, Kylie Fornasier, Simon French, Felicity Gardner, Margaret Hamilton, Wayne Harris, Ochre Lawson, David Legge, Stephen Measday, Dawn Meredith, Belinda Murrell, Amanda Niland, Oliver Phommavanh, Donna Rawlins, Emily Rodda, James Roy, Lisa Stewart, Leanne Tobin, Jodie Wells-Slowgrove,
Sue Whiting

The weather was perfect, loads of kids and their families came through the gates and everyone seemed to enjoy the catered event. There were stories read aloud, spoken and illustrated, games and colouring-in, silent book auctions, prizes and giveaways, interviews with authors and chats with kids and parents. What a great day!
Simon Marnie with talented Lisa Stewart

Kids at my table colouring in their monsters!

Monday, September 1, 2014

BIG BOOK DAY OUT - a wonderful day for authors, illustrators and children

with my lovely friend, the fabulous author Kate Forsyth
Wow, what a great day I had yesterday at the CBCA Big Book Day Out! As an author I absolutely loved meeting parents, children and colleagues in the beautiful parkland setting of the NSW Writer's Centre. The weather was perfect. Writers read passages from their books, illustrators ran small workshops, there were competitions and dress-up sessions, face painting and much more.

Libby Gleeson reads from her picture book, Banjo and Ruby Red
Famous, experienced authors such as Libby Gleeson held children enthralled as they brought their stories to life.

It became obvious to me that of all my books for sale, my recent book on anxiety was the most popular. Sad, in a way, that it has become such a necessary thing to both write and promote a book about anxiety, but I focus on the freedom and strength that comes from understanding and tackling this issue, and feel blessed to be able to share my experiences with children and their families. Parents worry about their anxious children and many wanted to chat to me about their child.

Jodie Wells-Slowgrove chatting about her 'Daisy' books
But, everywhere I looked yesterday there were happy faces, laughing children, bubbly authors and illustrators and, of course, lovely food! Hundreds of people wandered about, gleefully buying books and meeting their favourite authors. I am so lucky to be a part of that and am already looking forward to next year's Big Book Day Out.

members of the new western sydney CBCA branch

author Sandy Fussell giving an origami workshop

Thank you CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) for organising the event. I managed to catch up with writer/illustrator friends and made awesome new friends.

Me and Deb Abela

Friday, August 29, 2014

Workshop - Anxiety and Young Children

Yesterday I had the enormous pleasure of presenting a one hour talk to year 12 students at Glenwood High School on the topic of anxiety and young children as part of their studies in Early Childhood. A really lovely bunch of girls, fabulous staff and morning tea. What more could I ask for? We discussed the influences on a child's emotional,cognitive, physical and social development and pondered the impact of personality, environmental factors such as the mother's emotional state and technology on young children (and teens also). I was impressed by the students' insightful questions. Their fabulous librarian, Radha, had come across my newest book, 12 Annoying Monsters - Self Talk for Children with Anxiety and thought it perfect for the class.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

School Writing workshops for Kids NSW

Yesterday I had a HUGE day at Emu Heights Public School and enjoyed every second! From Kinder to year six they were all fantastic listeners and some wonderful stories came out of the pre-workshop writing task. So proud of you all!

For the first time in my career I got to chat about my drawings as for this last book I am both author and illustrator. The sketches of my monsters scored huge laughs and much animated discussion, even comments from the teachers!
All day I was treated like Royalty by lovely Librarian Vicki and made to feel warmly welcomed by Principal Mike and his staff.

In the meet and greet session kids came for a chat and to purchase their own copies of my books and have them signed. Many wanted to tell me about stories or illustrations they are working on. There were some very thoughtful questions too, such as 'what inspires you to write?' and 'Would you ever get sick of reading?' Hopefully I shared my love of reading to them all and encouraged the reluctant readers among them to find that illusive book that will switch on their own obsession for good...

I had a wonderful time, guys. Thanks so much for having me!

This monster was created by one of the very clever and talented students! To see more monsters: Emu Heights Monsters

Friday, August 15, 2014

12 Annoying Monsters - anxiety book getting great reaction

My newest book, 12 Annoying Monsters, - Self Talk for Kids with Anxiety is receiving a wonderful reaction from kids, parents, psychologists and teachers!

- "It's a beautiful book ... well worth not only a review, but also a purchase and promotion! Well done Dawn. "

- "This little book is of great value for the mental and emotional health of children and our own child within. Thank you Dawn Meredith for sharing your insightful professional experience."

So many people struggle daily with keeping a lid on their negative thoughts and the physical sensations that go with feeling controlled by anxiety. It's the pits! But my book is quietly helping people and that's exactly why I wrote it!
You can purchase it from AMAZON or

You might know someone, child or adult, who suffers with anxious thoughts. This could be the book that makes the difference for them. Many parents read it and see themselves as a child (and adult!) and find the simple, practical explanations and advice very helpful. For kids, the illustrations are black and white line drawings for them to colour in and make it their own special book. Read more about it here: 12 annoying monsters book

Here I am with writer friend, the lovely Katrina Germein, author of truly marvellous books for children, at the recent SCBWI conference in Sydney. My fave books of Katrina's are 'Little Dog' and the 'My Dad...' series.Check out her work here:

That's it for now. Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

HUGO Cabret - One of the best modern stories for children

Brian Selznick's sumptuously beautiful graphic novel for children, The Invention of Hugo Cabret  (2007) ticks all the boxes for a truly great story of all time. It's protagonist, the mild, earnest, mechanically-minded Hugo is an orphan who lives between the walls of a Paris train station, circa early 1900's.

After his drunkard uncle disappears, Hugo continues to wind all the station clocks, keeping them in perfect working order, so as to remain living in a forgotten corner room, high up among the giant cogs and wheels.

But the station master has other ideas. He means to catch Hugo and send him to the orphanage - a tidy solution to his problem of who should look after this child.
Hugo has one love - clockwork. He is not only fascinated, obsessed, but has the skill to repair anything. After all, he maintains all the station's clocks. But his one passion is to repair the automaton sitting in his room; a forgotten relic saved from the museum fire which killed his beloved father. The automaton is somehow a connection to that lost father, to a happier past. Hugo is certain that if he could just get the mechanical man working, there would be a message from his father. But Hugo doesn't have the pieces he needs to fix the automaton, so he begins stealing them from the toy store at the station, owned by the gruff and unforgiving Georges Melies.

Hugo befriends Isabelle, Papa Georges' daughter and together they not only find the lost key to bringing the automaton to life, but reignite the hope and passion of a forgotten film maker and automaton collector - Georges Melies.

With actual footage of early silent films, and photographs from the era, The Invention of Hugo Cabret transports the reader to a beautiful Victorian setting, shrouded in the romantic mystery of the age of steam.
 The story was adapted for film with exceptional skill in 2011, producing a fine moving picture of this wonder-filled adventure astonishingly true to the book's original appearance.
Insightful casting included Ben Kingsley as Georges Melies, Sasha Baron-Cohen as the station master and the talented Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret. The movie Hugo offers a glimpse into a fascinating past, based upon the real life story of Georges Melies and the real life existence of automata, some of which survive in museums today and can be seen on youtube. Franklin Institute demonstration
And this one, of infamous French Queen Marie Antoinette playing a harpsichord. marie antoinette automaton

And here, a short film (in French) about the glorious 'androids' of Jaquet-Droz of 1700's. including this 240 year old mechanical boy, (containing almost 6000 miniature parts) who writes and draws. Jaquet-Droz automaton boy Astonishing!
An informative and fascinating short documentary on how the film version built their automaton man can be found here: automaton from HUGO movie

In this age of violent cartoons, sexualisation of children everywhere and the ever diminishing innocence of childhood, this is one story that refuses to be trivialised.
 Selznick doesn't gloss over the problems of that era. It is obvious that Hugo has tremendous courage to survive in a world which sees him as an inconvenience, but in his quest to find that hidden message from his dead father he finds something unexpected - a loving home of his own.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What constitutes 'writing'? Are we lying to ourselves?

So, you have this dream, a beautiful, sparkly dream where you sit down at the keyboard and the words flow from a pristine font deep inside, stories fully formed... Ah!

Seems a world away from the dishevelled form slumped in front of the computer struggling through bleary eyes and a headache to skid in to a deadline, hitting 'send' at two minutes to midnight.

So, when we chat to each other, as writers, do we lie? Gloss it up? Tell the truth? Cos doesn't everyone else seem to be doing so well, churning out books, gathering piles of publishing contracts, smiling blissfully at their bank statement?

Er, no. A select few may have this experience, occasionally. I've known writers who struggled for YEARS before getting a single contract and then had their career take off, when they are in their fifties. The vast majority of writers in my circle of acquaintance struggle with the exact same issues I do:
  • Constructing a bubble of time in which to work that is separate from work, family, friends
  • Focussing on what they were supposed to be doing in said bubble of time, without being distracted by kittens and baby hedgehogs
  • Being organised and then actually sticking to the plan
  • Not expending considerable time and energy on the perfectly cleared desk, dust-free house and clean, shiny car before settling to write

So, I ask, what constitutes actually writing in any given day? Is it going through your notebooks collecting those stray bits you want to use? Is it updating your blog? (like I'm doing now) Is it doing publicity stuff for your last book? It is emails to other writers discussing writing stuff? Is it reading well informed and interesting blog posts? Connecting on LinkedIn etc? Reading your journals? Following leads? Submiitting to a publisher?

I'm sure everyone would have a slightly different answer. Here's what I think, seven books down the road,with two more to come out this year - as long as you are writing something, towards any project, it counts.

One of the most valuable writing exercises I do is putting together a synopsis for a publsher. Nothing gets you in a knot faster than having to summarise your entire book into a single page, or even (hold your breath) one sentence! But it's a brilliant process. The clarity is astonishing.
So, what do you think?