Welcome Amber Jepsen

Recently, I was so lucky to spend time with talented writer and reviewer Amber Jepsen. Amber’s first book, Highshire Farm – Poultry Passion was published when she was 12 years-old.

I’ve invited her to visit my blog and share her writing story and her wonderful reviews of  At the End of Holyrood Lane and Midnight At The Library.

MEET AMBER

My name is Amber Jepsen and I’m a 15 year old student in Year 10. I’m currently completing my work experience with Dee White, which has been an amazing opportunity and has allowed me to develop in my writing.

I’m a keen writer myself, with a particular interest in creative writing and story telling. Writing has always been a passion of mine, writing my first children’s book at the age of 10 and publishing at 12.

I use writing as a way to unwind from my constantly busy life of being in senior years at high school, living on farm with many animals and being in a wheelchair. Whenever inspiration hits me from the world around, I find myself writing away.

AT THE END OF HOLYROOD LANE

Dimity Powell’s At The End Of Holyrood Lane depicts the beautiful story of a girl named Flick, who struggles to cope with the frequent storms that throws her world into darkness.

Alongside Nicky Johnston’s gorgeous watercolour illustrations, Powell captures the sheer vulnerability and isolation that children can experience when they feel as though they are no longer in control of the world around them.

The story explores the idea of facing our problems and seeking help when needed, one which we can all relate to at some point in our own lives. The simple imagery and evocative descriptions convey the central message that when you’re feeling helpless and insignificant, reaching out for help can make everything that little bit better.

At The End Of Holyrood Lane is written by Dimity Powell,  illustrated by Nicky Johnston, and published by EK Books, and is a wonderful read for all.

– Reviewed by Amber Jepsen

MIDNIGHT AT THE LIBRARY

Midnight At The Library by Ursula Dubosarsky tells the tale of a little book’s journey from being written and read and forgotten and lost.

Within this book, Dubosarsky has crafted a beautiful style of storytelling, one that lets the imagination run free as you follow the seemingly harsh lifecycle of a book.

With Ron Brook’s captivating illustrations, you find yourself lost within the story as a connection is built between yourself and the little book.

It really is a beautiful tale told through the perfect combination of visual and written storytelling. Midnight At The Library is written by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Ron Brooks and published by NLA Publishing. This is a tale that will not be forgotten.

– Reviewed by Amber Jepsen

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Presenting at the 2018 Sharjah International Book Fair

I was lucky to be invited to present writing workshops for kids at the 2018 Sharjah International Book Fair, the third largest in the world after Frankfurt and London.

It was huge … and amazing.

Finger puppets were popular inspiration for stories

I presented 12 writing workshops over 6 days to children aged 4 to 14.

On Kid’s Day, 50,000 young book and writing enthusiasts swarmed through the doors. It was so wonderful to see so many kids inspired by books.

The 2018 Sharjah International Book Fair had well over  2 million visitors ( just under 1/12 of Australia’s entire population).

The young writers loved my Australian puppets

The kids in my workshops were so beautiful and enthusiastic, and although there were some language barriers, puppets and rainbows seemed able to traverse them.

Writers performing their stories.

It was such a great experience for me as a writer … and also as a workshop presenter … improvising to meet needs I had not previously encountered.

With Heba my wonderful Sharjah helper

I was fortunate, to have two amazing helpers, my husband, Michael and my collaborator, Heba.

She made sure we had everything we needed for the workshops. She adores children, and you could see that the feeling was mutual.

It was an inspiration for me to see so many kids getting excited about books and reading.

 

The kids loved Reena’s Rainbow and were so creative, writing about and drawing rainbows. There were amazing stories, poems and even an acrostic rainbow song by the very talented Ishana.

She wrote this song in our one hour workshop and then performed it. I’m sure we will see her books on the shelves one day … or hear her on the air waves.

There were so many other inspiring and talented young writers at the book fair.

SIGHTS OF SHARJAH

Sharjah was a beautiful place, and we received a very warm welcome.

The buildings with the domed roof and the one to the left of it (partially in the pic) are the book fair. It was huge.

So wonderful to share this experience with other very talented Australian Kidlit creators, Catherine Pelosi, Kat Apel and Claire Richards

 

 

 

 

International Author Sails in to DeeScribe Writing

Today I’m very excited to welcome dear friend and fellow SCBWI Nevada mentee, Mina Witteman to my blog.

Mina is an amazing international author and editor, and today she’s sharing the inspiring story of how genetics, a love of books, and a lifetime of sailing led to the creation of her hugely successful Boreas series for middle grade readers.

Mina will tell us how she weaves facts and reality into her extraordinary fiction.

ABOUT MINA

Mina writes in English and Dutch, and has seven middle grade adventure novels out in the Netherlands, over 40 short stories, and a Little Golden Book. She is currently working on an English novel for Young Adults and an English middle grade novel.

She debuted in 2005 with De wraak van Deedee (Deedee’s Revenge), followed by two more middle grade adventure novels with Van Goor Children’s Books. In 2010 she transferred to Ploegsma Children’s Book Publishers, one of the oldest and most prestigious children’s book publishers in the Netherlands, where her Boreas series is published. The Boreas series tell the story of twelve-year-old Boreas who circumnavigates the world with his parents on a sailboat. The first book, Boreas en de zeven zeeën (Boreas and the Seven Seas ), came out in June 2015 and received rave reviews. Boreas en de duizend eilanden (Boreas and the Thousand Islands) was published in April 2016 and was equally praised, just like book 3 in the series, Boreas en de vier windstreken (Boreas and the Four Winds) that saw the light in 2017. Book 4, Boreas en de vijftien vrienden (Boreas and the Fifteen Friends) is scheduled to come out in 2018.

She was honored to write a series of 21 short stories with illustrations of famous Dutch illustrator Fiep Westendorp. The series was published in Bobo Children’s Magazine. Recent short stories are published in the famous read-aloud anthologies of Ploegsma Children’s Books. She is the proud author of a Dutch Little Golden Book, Mia’s Nest (Rubinstein Publishing, 2014), followed by a full-version Spanish edition, El nido de Mia (Panamericana, 2016).

Mina is a seasoned book editor, trained through the University of Amsterdam’s Dual Master Book Editing. She is an certified teacher creative writing (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) and teaches and coaches budding and published writers alike. Mina is SCBWI’s International Published Authors’ Coordinator and a founding member of the successful SCBWI Europolitan Conferences. Mina is member of the EU Planning Committee of the SCBWI British Isles’ Undiscovered Voices Competition for unagented and unpublished writers and illustrators and a nominating body for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and a long-time jury member for the Young Authors Fiction Festival of the American Library in Paris. She is the Program Associate Children and Young Adults for the Bay Area Book Festival, and lives in   Berkeley, California.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WRITING – Mina’s story

I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands. Tucked away in the crown of a knotted linden tree, I read book after book, fiction and non-fiction, books that landed me in adventures on far shores, books that taught me history and mythology, books that let me explore nature and science. I loved these books and their exciting unfamiliar worlds. I often wished I could live in them for a while. Reading sparked a fire that, to this date, hasn’t gone out. But there was more that ignited this longing to look further than my own world. My father was an architect and a sailor with a lifelong dream to sail around the world. He instilled in me a love for science, for the sea and the wind. My mother showed me how to catch the tiniest details of life and nature, like a caterpillar on a tree branch or a quicksilver rabbit in a faraway field, gone in an eye’s blink. She also had the gift of storytelling, which she passed on to me. With strands like that coiled around each other and forming my DNA, it was inevitable that some day I myself would write thrilling adventures on far shores.

It wasn’t until I had scattered my mother’s ashes in the sea and bid my father fair winds and following seas, that Boreas was born. Boreas, a young boy named after the Greek god of the northern wind, who circumnavigates the world with his parents on their sailboat the Argo. I couldn’t be happier when Ploegsma, one of the oldest and most prestigious Dutch children’s publishing houses, decided to publish the series.

I wanted the series to appeal to all children, no matter where they lived, to girls and boys, to sailors and to readers who prefer solid ground. Like the stories that captivated me when I was young, I wanted Boreas’s journey to reflect life and the real world in all its facets. I could not just include fun and games; I had to add life’s hardships and the world’s challenges, as well. My biggest hurdle was that I love—as in LOVE!—facts. If I come across something, say celestial navigation, I find out every little detail about it. And I’m super eager to share that knowledge. But I didn’t want to scuttle Boreas’s fast-paced adventures by dumping facts.

My mother’s storytelling gift threw me a lifebuoy. While perusing the logbooks she kept during the twelve years she and my father spent sailing, I realized Boreas had to keep a logbook, too. So, I alternated riveting adventures, ashore and at sea, with more reflective logbook pages where I could sprinkle in my fun facts, ranging from the use of marine signal flags to, yes, celestial navigation, from recipes of dishes typical to the countries Boreas visits to wildlife to plastic pollution.

Most important to me was that I portrayed events, countries and cultures without cloaking the harsher sides of life. I juxtaposed bleaker stories with lighter ones to find a healthy balance in presenting the good and the bad for my young middle grade readers. My Dutch candor keeps me from prettifying the truth. If there is no happy end in real life, like when Boreas and his parents crash into the self-built raft of a young refugee, trying cross the English Channel, I won’t forge a happy ending nor will I leave my readers in despair. I do want to give hope and the logbook pages turned out to be a perfect tool for that. Boreas looks back on events like this, asking himself questions: What is fair and what is unfair? How would he solve the situation if he were in charge? Readers, but also teachers and librarians love the books, as they not just give the joy of reading, but offer talking points for discussions, while sneaking in information and facts that can deepen my readers understanding of the world.

Thanks, Mina for sharing your amazing story with us. If you have questions for Mina, please feel free to share them in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing 🙂

Dee

FIND A WRITING BUDDY IS MOVING TO FACEBOOK

Find a Writing Buddy’ is moving to Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/187001442008233/

THE BAD NEWS

Unfortunately some writers seeking a buddy have been receiving unwanted attention so a week from today, 25 June 2018, I’ll be deleting all the comments from this blog page, and moving ‘Find a Writing Buddy’ to Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/187001442008233/

THE GOOD NEWS

You’ll be able to find a critique partner/writing buddy on the Facebook group. This will be a secret group so all members will be pre approved. There will also be posts to help you improve your writing skills.

This group is to help aspiring and emerging writers to network and get useful, constructive and critical feedback

It is NOT for people who want their work proofread or are looking for co-writers.

Please be professional and respectful at all times.

NOTE:  Your writing buddy doesn’t have to live near you. You can crit each other’s work and help each other online:) Also, if their genre isn’t quite the same as yours…particularly YA, that doesn’t really matter either. The main thing is that they understand what you are writing and have written similar length works. For example if you write novels, it’s best to find a crit buddy who has written novels so that they understand what it takes to plot and put together a work of that length.

If you want to find a writing partner/crit buddy/beta reader, here’s what to do:

Step One

  1. Go to  Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/187001442008233/
  2. Request to join the Group.
  3. Once you have been approved, post your writer details including genre you write in, publishing experience and why you want a critique partner.
  4.  Give links for your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.

Happy writing and I hope you find the writing buddy of your dreams.

Please feel free to share this blog page through Facebook, Twitter etc. I want to help as many writers as possible find a crit buddy.

Dee:)

 

School Libraries Matter – Do you have a school library story to share?

I’m a member of the School Library Coalition, aiming to save school libraries from further funding cuts and decimation.

To help us in our campaign, we’re gathering stories from people whose kids have benefitted from the resources in their school library.

This year, the School Library Coalition will mount an Australia wide campaign to demonstrate how important they are, not just for your child’s school years, but for lifelong learning and fulfillment.

To help us, we’re looking for stories about how children have received significant benefit from participating in the literacy, social and cultural activities of the school library, or simply from feeling nurtured and engaged.

Or perhaps you have an experience of how school library staffing cuts have impacted on your child’s learning or wellbeing.

If you have a personal experience that you’re happy for us to share (we can change names if necessary), we’d love to hear from you.

Please email your story or contact details to dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Thanks for any help you can give us.

Happy reading and writing 🙂

Dee

K9 Heroes – It takes more than one person to create a book

Today my books K9 Heroes (published by Scholastic Australia) was released into the wild.

K9 Heroes is inspired by four true stories from France, Canada, USA and Australia about dogs who have saved people’s lives.

There are so many books about people who have rescued dogs, but I wanted to pay tribute to the amazing K9s who have rescued people. The K9 Heroes I have written about saved humans from fire, drowning, cougar attack and homelessness.

The idea first came to me when I was on a retreat near Santa Cruz with my writing sisters, Laura Elliott and Edna Hokunaauao Cabcabin Moran. Every writer needs people to inspire and encourage them like these dear friends.

They encouraged me to develop the idea. They shared their tips and suggestions … and so 10,000 miles from home, my new book baby was conceived.

This book has had so much support from start to finish. When I wanted to create a book trailer, my local community got behind me and volunteered their dogs.

Here’s the end result: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jeRNf2CFkA&feature=youtu.be

And of course there has been the enthusiasm of Clare Halifax, my publisher at Scholastic who seemed to love my doggy tales right from the start.

As authors, we are the ones who put the words on paper, but there are so many wonderful people who join us on the journey.

Thanks to everyone who has helped K9 Heroes on the road to publication.

And if you’re looking for a Christmas present for a dog lover … well K9 Heroes is a perfect stocking sized book 🙂

Dee

A Book For All Children

What an amazing experience it has been to see our new picture book, Reena’s Rainbow released to both deaf and hearing communities.

Reena’s Rainbow tells the story of a deaf girl and a homeless dog and how they bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds.

One of the most amazing things about our Reena’s Rainbow events has been being able to include both deaf and hearing children.

This was made possible thanks to a grant from Regional Arts Victoria that funded our fabulous Auslan Interpreters Meg, Pauline and Bec.

It meant that deaf children could feel included and valued, and be introduced to a story in which they could see themselves represented.

It meant that hearing children could experience communicating in Auslan, and it allowed them to walk in the shoes of deaf children.

We were truly fortunate to be able to also be able to have both deaf and hearing children at our workshops where they could learn about how books are created.

There were interpreters.

Our Auslan Interpreter, Meg, our fabulous launcher Mitch Vane, me and Tracie at Dromkeen.

Tracie, me and Bec our Auslan Interpreter

Auslan Interpreter, Pauline, interpreting how to create Rainbow Stories

There were lots of eager young readers.

There were supportive bookshops and galleries including Dromkeen, Squishy Minnie and Collins Bookstores.

And there was cake. And books of course.Thanks to everyone who has supported Reena’s Rainbow and its launch into the deaf and hearing worlds. Special thanks to my fabulous partner-in-picture books, Tracie Grimwood who created all the fabulous illustrations and did so much more.

Happy writing, illustrating and creating 🙂

Dee