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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The Fix It Man – The Writer’s Journey

I’m so thrilled to welcome Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston, and their beautiful new book The Fix It Man to my blog today.

Nicky and Dimity are both dear friends and amazingly talented people, and I’ve been lucky enough to share the journey of their wonderful picture book from initial idea to publication.fullsizerender

First, congratulations Dimity and Nicky on such a beautiful book.

Now … About The Fix It Man.

ex_fixitman_cvr_300THE JOURNEY

Back in early 2013, Dimity sent me her draft manuscript, The Fix It Man, and asked if I would help her get it ready to submit for publication. It was already a truly beautiful manuscript. The moving storyline was there and the language was lyrical, but I did have a couple of suggestions.

The Beginning

This is how the story originally started:

My Dad can fix anything.
No job is too difficult. No repair is too big. Or too small. Sticky tape is his preferred tool of trade and Super Dooper Dad Glue.
When butterfly bead bracelets break, Dad’s there. When mermaid kite tails tear, Dad’s there. When skipping ropes unravel and rip, Dad’s there.

Burst bulbs, cracked cups, and fractured furniture. Dad never knocks back a challenge.
Because that’s what daddies do.

fixing-dog-house_nickyjohnstonMy suggestion

Dimity’s beginning was already beautifully evocative, but I suggested that the story problem … Mum’s illness … could be introduced into the story earlier and that way readers would connect with the character straight away. I said …

Bringing the story problem in earlier would allow you to take more time in the story with Mum’s illness and eventual passing – and show Dad’s increasingly desperate attempts to fix her. It would create more tension and allow the reader more of an emotional connection.

Language and Tense

Dimity’s language was already beautiful, but I felt it could be strengthened by using consistent forms of words for example, Dad and Mum, rather than switching to Daddy or Mummy and back again.

Sometimes when you get caught in the emotion of the story, it’s easy to slip in a different tense … and this was something else we worked on in The Fix It Man.

But overall, this was such a strong story, that there really wasn’t a whole lot of work to do … and Nicky Johnston’s gorgeous illustrations have strengthened and enhanced it even more.kitchen_nicky_johnston

The Story

In The Fix It Man a young girl believes her father is the king of fixing things, but following the death of her mother, she discovers that broken hearts are not as easy to repair as damaged toys and cracked teapots. Together, she and her father find a way to glue back the pieces of their lives.

The Fix It Man is a poignant picture book that explores how a child can cope with the loss of a parent (in this case, the young girl’s mother). Grief affects all members of a family, with each responding in their own way to the loss. By sticking with her father, the young girl is able to strengthen her resilience and ability to cope with one of life’s harshest experiences. The author was encouraged to seek publication for this story after receiving the endorsement of several grief counsellors who work with children and who recognised the need for a book such as this.

In The Fix It Man grief is handled in such a gentle sensitive way, and despite the subject matter, readers are left with feelings of hope.

There are not many characters in this story, but each one has been well crafted with an authenticity that makes them so relatable.

To hold The Fix It Man in my hand has filled me with so much happiness for these creators. There’s such symmetry between Dimity’s text and Nicky’s evocative illustrations which take the story to a whole new level.

They truly capture the emotion and poignancy of the subject matter and the beautiful relationship between father and daughter.

I can see The Fix It Man providing a wonderful conversation book in homes and schools, not just for gently introducing children to the concept of loss, but for building empathy for others.

MORE ABOUT THE FIX IT MAN …

To celebrate the launch of The Fix It Man, Dimity and Nicky’s blog burst is taking them to many other wonderful places in cyberspace.

You can check them out here:

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KidLitVic2016 – Meet the Publishers and show them your writing and/or illustrations

For some time now my crit buddy, Alison Reynolds and I have been talking about how great it would be to have a Meet the Children’s and YA Publishers Day in Melbourne so that new, emerging and established writers and illustrators would have a chance to network, find out what publishers are looking for, and get their work seen.

It’s now a reality!

KidLitVic 2016  Meet the Publishers is a not for profit event to be held on 7th May next year and we already have some fabulous publishers confirmed for this event including:

  • Black Dog Books/Walker
  • Hardie Grant
  • Harper Collins
  • Penguin
  • Scholastic
  • The Five Mile Press

There will be publisher panels for various genre, and an illustrator panel. You will also have the opportunity for 15 minute one-one-one manuscript and illustration consultations with publishers.

We are so lucky to have the very talented Nicky Johnston on board and she has provided the stunning illustrations for our website and is our Illustrator representative.

If you want to know more about this event, please check out our website.

We are putting our panels together so if there is something you’ve been dying to ask a publisher, but have never had the chance, please feel free to include your questions in the comments section of this post.

Please also feel free to share this post with writers or illustrators you think could benefit from this event.

Kidlitvic Christmas flier