Mind Provoking Prose – MG and YA Reads for the Venturesome

If the prospect of bored minds and restless spirits daunts you, consider these literary excursions for your middle grade and YA readers. Not only are they mind provoking and incisive, they offer experiences for the venturesome reader to revere and ruminate over long after they’ve read the last page.

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

This is a brave story set in Australia in the not-too-distant future with global implications. Peony lives with her sister and aging grandfather on a fruit farm. Her chief aspiration is to be a Bee – the bravest, most nimble of farm workers who flit from tree to tree pollinating flowers by hand. If this concept sounds slightly askew, it’ll be one you are thoroughly comfortable with by the time you’ve experienced MacDibble’s palpably natural, narrative. Could this be the end of the world as we know it or, as I’d rather believe, just another notable chapter in the history of humans being humans – badly.

Whatever your take on climate change and the way we treat the planet, How to Bee, never wallows in despair or hindsight and neither does Peony who positively radiates tenacity, kindness and sass so loudly, her voice really will be resounding long after you read the last page. When  Peony is taken from her home by a mother who aspires for more than just the meagre country existence the rest of her family and friends endure, her brassy drive and cast-iron determination draw her right back to the home she loves, like a bee to its hive. But not before she spreads a little hope and good sense in the big scary city.

This story will make you grin, cheer, cry just a bit and want to fly with Peony as she Bees. It’s about being true to yourself, to those who love you, about living your dreams wildly and the profound power of friendship. It could also quite possibly change your whole outlook of and appreciation for fruit. More highly recommended than an apple a day for middle grade readers from eight upwards.

Allen and Unwin April 2017

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The Art of Self-Promotion

Authors need to promote their books! A few weeks ago, at a meeting of the Victorian branch of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a panel of writers (Pauline Luke, Edel Wignell and myself) discussed the topic of promotion. What was evident from the discussion, is that different writers promote in different ways. Some have embraced social media and all forms of electronic promotion, others prefer to stick to more traditional forms such as signings and appearances. Some, like myself, have become promotional sluts, grabbing every conceivable opportunity. But the one thing that everyone agreed on, is how important promotion is to an author’s career.

Inspired by this discussion, I thought a post with some promotion was in order. Relax, I’m not about to try and sell you my books. Instead, I’ve invited five authors to promote themselves in 100 words or less. And so, in alphabetical order, here they are…

Corinne Fenton

Sometimes I think I have this disease called ‘writing’ and no matter what else is going on in my life, I can still get lost in words, words that talk to one another.  A review in Bookseller and Publisher last year said, ‘Corinne Fenton has established a reputation for writing beautiful picture-book histories of animals whose lives have become legendary.’ I hope to keep doing that forever. My next favourite thing is speaking to children and adults about the writing and research behind my books at schools, libraries and bookshops. I have a website, a blog and I use twitter.

[Corinne Fenton’s new website, including blog, was not yet live when this blog was posted. Keep an eye on it as it will be up very soon… www.corinnefenton.com]

Bren MacDibble

“Angsty, wacky, thoughtful and with a lovely sense of black humour” are words that have been used to describe the stories of Bren MacDibble. She has had ten books for children published as well as lots of short stories for all ages. She likes to write accessible science fiction and finds no end to the new and unusual story ideas offered by futuristic themes. Bren’s a Clarion graduate and her passion is YA novels. Thanks to many fine writerly affiliations, Bren’s creativity thrives in Melbourne. You can find her on twitter or visit her website.

Julie Murphy

To date, my books have all been for the education market. The publishers promote those, so I tend to promote myself. I focus on the www — it’s relatively quick, it’s global, and it’s free. In addition to my own website, I keep author pages on Goodreads, JacketFlap, AuthorsDen, Amazon and LinkedIn. The Australian Society of Authors and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators feature links to my website. Also, whenever I write articles for parents’ or children’s magazines, or my column for the children’s literacy e-mag, Bug News, my web address appears in the byline.

Claire Saxby

I write fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children. My most recent picture book is There Was an Old Sailor, illustrated by Cassandra Allen (Walker Books Australia). I also write for education publishers and have written for Hardie Grant Egmont’s Go Girl! series. Visit my website for more details.

Book promotion is an integral part of my writing and can take many forms. Bookshop and school visits are probably my most common activities, but online promotion is increasing. Websites, blogs, virtual booktours all help to promote my books and me as a writer.

Gabrielle Wang

As a writer I feel it is important to promote yourself. However there is a fine line between having a quiet presence and blatant self-promotion. I have a website that has been set up so I can maintain it myself. This is important. I don’t want to have to wait for my web designer. I have a blog page on my website and write posts fairly regularly. And I have two Facebook pages – one personal, the other public. I’m also on Twitter but I don’t use it as much as FB. All are linked to my website.

George’s bit at the end

So there you have it… a little bit of insight into the promotional activities of five Australian authors. If there are any other authors out there reading this post, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your website, blog or Twitter account.

Tune in next time for an interview with bestselling fantasy author Trudi Canavan.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter… or I’ll promote at ya.

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