More covers + Supanova

It’s finally time to reveal the covers for You Choose books three and four.

Illustrator James Hart has again captured the spirit of the series with his wonderfully dynamic images.

In other news… I went along to Supanova in Melbourne on Sunday to promote the first two You Choose books. I was there along with fellow Random House Australia authors Michael Pryor, Allyse Near and Skye Melki-Wegner.

Wow! What a HUGE event! So many people! Although a touch overwhelming, it was also a heap of fun. A big hello to everyone I met.

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And so it begins…

Okay… so you all know about the You Choose books I’ve got coming out with Random House Australia this year? Interactive kids’ books where the reader gets to make decisions about how the story progresses — like the old Choose Your Own Adventure novels from the 1980s. The first two don’t come out until May, but promotions have already started. In fact, I spent a good deal of last week on the publicity trail. With several weeks until their release, what was I doing? Well, let me tell you about it.

Firstly there were bookshop visits. The marketing people from Random House took me to meet some booksellers around Melbourne. These booksellers had already ordered copies from the publisher’s catalogue. But the visits were a great way to gauge their reaction to the books and also to check for interest in hosting promotional events once the books hit the shelves.

Then there were a series of teacher/librarian events hosted by bookstores that service schools in their area — Lamont Books in Hallam, The Little Bookroom in Carlton and Book Bonding in Nidrie. Along with other authors and illustrators (Michael Pryor , Tristan Bancks , Belinda Murrell and Serena Geddes ) and Random House marketing people, I had a chance to make a presentation to the attendees. What did I talk about? The potential for using the You Choose books in schools…

  • Good for reluctant readers because individual pathways through the books are relatively short, insuring a sense of achievement for the reader. And as a former reluctant reader, I cannot stress to you how important that sense of achievement is if a student is to transition from reluctant to avid reader.
  • Good for avid readers because of the interactivity and the ability to re-read the book numerous times to discover new pathways, sidetracks and dead ends.
  • Good for classroom reading, as the short pathways allow for a complete story to be told within one period. And the interactivity is a great way to engage the students, perhaps getting them to vote at the end of each section when a choice needs to made.
  • Good for classroom discussion of story structure, showing how the decisions of a character can drastically alter the direction of a story. And this can then be related to the students’ own lives and the choices they make every day. Lots of potential for discussion!
  • Good for classroom discussion of perspective in literature, as the books are written in second-person, addressing the reader directly.

I even managed to tell them about all the Doctor Who references I’ve slipped into each of the books. (Okay… so that was a little off track. But hey, any excuse to talk about Doctor Who.)

I was blown away by the response from the teachers and librarians, as well as the booksellers. They have all been really positive about the books. I’ve been wandering around with a dazed glowy-happy feeling ever since. :-)

But no time to get complacent, as more promotions are in the pipeworks (watch this space for launch announcements). No rest for the wicked!

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More YOU CHOOSE revelations

The first two You Choose books, The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove and Mayhem at Magic School, get released on the 1 May. The next two books get released in July. Finally, I can reveal the titles of those two books…

Maze of Doom

and

The Haunting of Spook House

Covers and internal illustrations are again by the talented Mr James Hart. Here’s a little teaser of the Book 3 cover…

Can’t wait to reveal the complete cover. Watch this space!

 

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Continuum X cometh

Continuum is an annual science fiction and pop culture convention that is held in Melbourne. I’ve been to every single one so far. This year’s (6-9 June) is the tenth and it’s going to be a rather special one, so let me tell you about it and why you should come along.

It’s the tenth Continuum! Quite an achievement!

It’s doubling as the 53rd Australian National Science Fiction Convention… so it will be bigger than usual.

Continuum X will be making a special effort to engage with young people. Given that I write books for kids and teens, I think this is AWESOME! This year’s programme will include a series of YA “meet the author” sessions.

This year’s international Guest of Honour is fantasy novelist Jim C Hines. His books include Goblin Quest, The Stepsister Scheme and Libriomancer. The Australian Guest of Honour is writer and illustrator Ambelin Kwaymullina, author of The Tribe series. As well as doing speeches and appearing on panels, the Guests of Honour will just be hanging around chatting to people and participating in the convention. It will be a great opportunity to meet these amazing people.

In addition to these guests, there will be loads of other authors wandering around, speaking on panels, doing readings and signing books.

There will be a HUGE number of a programme items, including panel discussions, workshops and readings. I’ll be on one of the YA meet the author panels, as well as moderating a second one. I’ll be speaking about my new You Choose series of books on the “Interactive Storytelling panel” and I’ll be obsessing about old Doctor Who episodes on the “Monochromatic Visions” panel. Of course, I’ll also be doing a reading — because you just can’t shut me up. ;-)

And then there’s “Spicks and Speculations”. Each year I host some sort of light entertainment, game-show style programme item. In the past we’ve done “Blankety Blanks”, “Sudden Death Mastermind”, “So You Think You Can Be An Evil Genius” and last year’s “SFQI”. This year, back by popular demand, is “Spicks and Speculations”, which was first run at Continuum 8. Based on the ABC tv show, it will have a somewhat more science-fictional leaning.

Each year, Continuum hosts the Chronos Awards for excellence in Victorian science fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Each year, the Australian National Science Fiction Convention hosts the Ditmar Awards for excellence in Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror. At Continuum X there will be a double-whammy awards night, full of glitz and glamour and… awards!

Nominations are currently open for both sets of awards in professional and fan related categories. Anyone can make a nomination for the Chronos Awards, but you have to be a Continuum member to vote. You must be active in Australian fandom in order to make a nomination for the Ditmar Awards, and only members of Continuum X or last year’s national convention can vote. If you’re interested in nominating anyone or anything, you better hurry as nominations close on 16 March for the Chronos Awards and 30 March for the Ditmars. Details here!

What more can I tell you? There will be a masquerade and a costume competition and some book launches and… oh, the list just goes on and on.

So… have I convinced you? Wanna come along and join the fun? Check out the Continuum website for more details.

One more thing… I’m eligible for nomination in several categories for the above awards. I’m going to tell you about that now, so please forgive me my blatant self-promotion (and you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to). ;-)

My novel Gamers’ Rebellion (Ford Street Publishing, 2013) is eligible for “Best Long Fiction” in the Chronos Awards and “Best Novel” in the Ditmars.

Henry Gibbens is eligible for the Gamers’ Rebellion book trailer in the “Best Achievement” category of the Chronos Awards. Please take a look at the video and consider nominating him. Henry did an incredible job of computer animating this trailer, as well as the trailers for Gamers’ Quest and Gamers’ Challenge.

I have two short stories eligible for “Best Short Fiction” in the Chronos Awards and “Best Short Story” in the Ditmars. They are:

“Fairy Pie” (Stories for Girls, Random House Aust, 2013) and

“Rainbows and Jellyfish” (Stories for Boys, Random House Aust, 2013)

Finally, my essay from Doctor Who and Race (Intellect Books, 2013), “That was then, this is now: how my perceptions have changed”, is eligible for the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review, which is presented as part of the Ditmars.

So there you have it. There are some amazing pieces of writing that are eligible for the awards this year, so I’m not holding my breath about getting onto the ballots. But if you happen to have read my stuff and liked it, please consider nominating me. :-)

Okay… I’ve rambled on long enough. Time to go. Ciao peoples!

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Fairytale readers and other ed stuff

Last year was a really good year for me in terms of education writing. I was contracted to write 14 education titles, including school readers, reference books and a couple of chapter books. Most of these books will be published over the course of 2014.

I’ve been writing for the education market for many years and I’ve had over 70 books published… but the joy never dies. Each time a new title shows up in my postbox I still feel the little thrill of excitement flash through me as I hold the book for the first time.

I had an extra thrill last week, as six readers showed up in the post. Five of these readers form the Fairytale Fixits set I wrote for Pearson Australia’s Bug Club series. The other book is a non-fic Bug Club title called The Food You Eat.

The Fairytale Fixits are, without a doubt, my all-time favourite readers. Each book is about Sarah and Joe getting zapped into a broken fairytale and having to find a way to fix it.

The Fairytale Fixits were an absolute joy to write, the editing process was a truly collaborate creative development and Diane Le Feyer provided gorgeous full-colour illustrations.

I read all five of the books to my five-year-old daughter Lexi the day they arrived. As we finished each one, she eagerly begged for the next. And her favourite moment — when Joe offers his stinky socks to Puss in Boots. It was a magic experience.

I love my job!  :-)

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The Full Monty… Secret Project Revealed

Yes folks… it’s time to reveal all about that Secret Project I’ve been going on about for ages. So…

[insert drum roll]

I’ve been working on a new series of kids books called…

YOU CHOOSE

YOU CHOOSE is a series of interactive books where the reader gets to make key decisions about how the story progresses. Numerous intertwining story paths and a plethora of different endings (many of them resulting in certain death), combined with a variety of genres and an odd assortment of really weird characters should provide a roller-coaster ride of a reading adventure. :-)

As a kid, I loved reading the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. And over the years, I’ve read a variety of different takes on the style, from the Pick-a-Path books to the more recent Interactive History Adventures, and even one of the Doctor Who: Decide Your Destiny series. So I am VERY EXCITED about having my own series. And they have been a lot of fun to plot out. Check out my whiteboard for The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove

The first two books come out in May from Random House AustraliaThe Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove and Mayhem at Magic School. They will be marketed for middle to upper primary… but I reckon they’re fun for ‘kids’ of all ages. ;-) The wonderful covers and internal illustrations are by James Hart (check out his site, he does awesome work.)

The next two books will be released later in the year. Book 3 is currently going through the editing process and I’ve almost finished Book 4. More info about them later.

I can now breathe a sigh of relief. I cannot express to you, dear reader, how difficult keeping this secret has been. I am so pleased to be able to shout about it from the rooftops.

Exciting times!

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