The Fix- it-Man

ISBN  9781925335347   Hardcover Picture Book   EK Books Endorsed by Paradise Kids

It is a challenge to cover the deeper topics in life for young children in a way that is relatable, honest and caring, but Dimity Powell’s The Fix -it-Man sets out to do just that.   Nicky Johnston’s gentle, joyful and equally caring illustrations take the reader through the happy, although sometimes challenging times, in a family that is about to be broken by something that just can’t be fixed.  A double centre spread of predominantly subdued grey father and daughter nestled in a bean bag, is particularly moving, and marks a shift in the narrative from the fix-it- man to a fix- it- girl.  Another especially powerful metaphor for grief in the story is the broken teddy bear, ‘Tiger’ who needs mending.  Our young narrator says, ‘Pieces spill out from Tiger’s heart, as Dad takes him from my hand. ‘I can’t fix him Dad.’ The idea that in the healing process at different times all family members can play a role, and need to care for those still living, is especially powerful.

I can see the book often being used by early childhood educators, psychologists and hospitals as a tool to trigger discussion of how children and parents can find ways to recover from loss, especially how father and daughters can assist each other. But at the same time children will enjoy the journey of a courageous and vivacious little girl who sometimes breaks things precisely because she is so vibrant, and who is lucky to have a kind- hearted Dad who is her hero.  Well done Nicky and Dimity for a simply beautiful contribution to children’s picture books and EK publishing for publishing it.

Book available from all good bookstores.

Dimity will be signing books

Berkelouw Books on the Sunshine Coast, April 22nd, 2017

Finding Readers for Magic Fish Dreaming

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Nearly one year since our successful kickstarter and there are now many copies of Magic Fish Dreaming ready to find homes for.   I picked up our full print run Tuesday this week!

Since our launch last October, nearly 300 books have headed out to the public and are now doing their magic; this has been from: kickstarter preorders, library supplier sales, the launch, individual direct orders, and one bookshop appearance.

We have had a review in Reading Time with CBCA (children’s book council), and have sent the book for review to several others and so we should see those in coming months, and I continue to search out more places for reviews.  Sometimes these take a while to hear back from.

In the meantime the truly hard work begins; we strive to reach more schools and libraries, bookshops, and obtain even more reviews, and locate conferences, festivals, potential sellers, and events that will help put the word out about Magic Fish Dreaming.

Last week I received the exciting news about participating in a festival in April(I sent out a query straight after the kickstarter and it took a while to hear back) and in March, I am chatting with libraries and environment centres to see how I might work on something to share the book in their spaces.This is so exciting and can’t wait to share with you the outcomes of these discussions.

I am about to put in some proposals to other places but am on the eagle eye look out for opportunities to share a product our team are very proud of.

Whilst distributing this book, I am polishing up a number of picture book manuscripts with my invaluable writing mentors, a new poetry collection (sequel to Magic Fish Dreaming), writing a novel, and continuing to work as a tutor in the Keystones program for Indigenous students at QUT.  I am not sure if these new works will be self published, or if I can find traditional publishers for them.

I have been totally inspired by the feedback we are receiving from our kickstarter sponsors about the journey of the book.  We have readers from Philippines, Canada, New Zealand, France, Papua New Guinea, and the United States.  We don’t yet regularly distribute in these countries but feel blessed by the response our kickstarter supporters there have given Magic Fish Dreaming and would love for it to continue to reach a  global audience when we work out the best way to do this.

We know the book has made it into Australian libraries and schools in two countries through our kickstarter buddies and we thank them so, so much for the love! Presently I am doing some final edits on our educational materials and notes relating to the book especially for teachers and parents.

An unexpected blessing, was Helene having an artist card with AVANT CARD and it mentioning the poem that inspired it and title of the book and featuring one art work from on it.  This is all over their stands now, and if you find ‘River Song’ do let us know.  We’d love to know where the card appeared.

As a self publisher I have a few more things to work out in this learning by doing especially in the distribution journey, but thank you for following and supporting.

In Australia you can order the book directly from me as well as presently obtain it from bookshops in Brisbane,  Townsville, Kuranda, and the Gold Coast.  If you live in the area of one of the shops best to buy it there as this will save you postage.  Libraries can obtain it from Peter Pal. 

You should know bookshops will often only stock any book for a limited time, 3-6 months, and the sales of the book determine if they purchase more stock and keep it on their shelves longer.

All queries regarding Magic Fish Dreaming can be made to gumbootspearlz@gmail.com

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Courtesy of Mel Irvine, Readers in the Philippines

After Yasi 4 year Anniversary – nearly here

February 2nd in Australia.

It’s been  weekend of reviews and this morning a profound chat with Ali.

Tomorrow it will be 4 years since Cyclone Yasi made landfall.  Presently Tropical Cyclone Ola looks like it won’t be too much hassle.  One of our sources of information during Yasi, other than the BOM site and ABC, were Oz Cyclone Chasers.  I still check their site to see how things are brewing in the Far North.

There is just one more blog hop  for the After Yasi Virtual Book tour, and then a wrap up post and launch.

The final blog we’ll visit is of profound and compassionate musician, Melinda Irvine, who is herself now working in Aftermath recovery in the Phillipines.

Over the weekend Carol Campbell,  Gail Kavanagh and Owen Allen posted reviews of the ebook.

“The eBook is an interactive experience that links to blogs and sources that show how people coped with the cyclone and the aftermath. It’s a rich trail of material that celebrates the human spirit in all its facets – despair, pain, recovery, optimism and resilience.blghopchristine

Among the highlights for me are Christine Jenkins and the anchor she tied to her house; Mr Hardy and his chainsaw optimism; and the wonderful poem Cassowaries Can Fly.”
Gail Kavanagh

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“Having an interest in contemporary dance, I particularly appreciated that one of the recovery events that June documented was a dance workshop run by local dancer Danielle Wilson. Contemporary dance is still a less well-developed community art form in Australia.” Owen Allen

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This morning Ali Stegert has shared her interview focusing on yasi and its impact on children and youth,  with thought provoking questions inspired by her background as a school counsellor.

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Don’t forget that if you leave a comment on any of our blogs included in the virtual tour you will have a chance to win a free copy of the ebook or copy of the photographic print from the book.  Your chance to comment for a prize continues until the 6th of February.

Letting the Genie out of the Bottle: Saturday Writing Sagas 10

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Looking for the Genie – June Perkins

So finally I’m commencing a novel.  I want it to be like letting a genie out of a magic bottle.

However, I don’t want to resort to a misuse of magic in all my plot turns; there is still a need for good set ups and lead in and I would like some originality. This is where I can learn a great deal from ‘arm chair critics’, or ‘ readers.’

Lately my whole family, the arm chair critics I know best, have been having trouble with some of the writing on television. We see brilliant concepts in shows like Doctor Who and Once Upon a Time – the season beginnings and finales of both these shows have been extremely well written.

However, the journey to reach these finales this season has had a litany of poor writing. One of the major gripes from my family of armchair critics has been that characters change too quickly,  or are not allowed to retain growth to something different.  They are quickly back to what they began as ‘ good’, ‘evil’.

They just keep playing with us a little too much. Rumplestiltskin, that complex figure, courts darkness but  is ever protective of the ones he loves, until it involves his own fate and then suddenly doesn’t care at all about death – finally courage?? The Evil Queen in Once Upon a Time was on the path to truly changing to a pathway for good due to her love for Henry.  Yet, she went back to being bad at what seemed the drop of a hat, the death of a mother she thought who never loved her who turned out to love her.

We were really starting to believe she could change, but the writers took that away, only to bring back  her potential goodness in a massive hurry in the finale.  Does torture and a stealing of your option for destruction of everyone you hate really create a back flip as quick as that?

The whole fatal flaw thing can simply be overdone. The effect of change, return to status quo, is to make us feel a lack of progression.  To feel that the same scene is replayed over and over again.

Don’t get my children started on Snow White/Mary Margaret and Prince Charming in the modern day!  Mary Margaret the tortured murderess  is difficult to take. In the past well she’s highly admirable for her ability to see the goodness in everyone.  Is it progression for her to want to murder someone or a regression?  Where do you go with a ‘perfect’ character?  Do you have to corrupt her?

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As viewers/readers we want progression, a new path, not just a stuck in the groove plot/broken record character.  So often this season Once Upon a Time sub-plots had this feeling. This is despite the borrowing and transformation of a large number of popular culture stories.  Lately it has even felt like Mulder and Scully have started running around in the plot.

What is left in Once Upon a Time when you remove all the layers of intertextuality? Mind you some of my favourite shows, like Get Smart, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie don’t have much progression, but the humour is the broken record, and you can predict the plot every time but have a rollicking time arriving to the same point each time.

In other kinds of television, such as Doctor Who or Once Upon a Time, this does not work as well because they are also trying to excite us with the new, their predictability is the unpredictable – the predictable becomes the twist in the plot.  Yet if it’s there just for the sake of it, without an internal common sense naturally arising from previous events the viewer feels cheated.

The thing is television writers can’t know that the dynamics of their plot will take a certain course in a season.  Viewers will side with certain characters and take on their cause.  They have already set the ball in motion and can’t respond to the viewer’s alliances. The thing is some actors can make an awful character on paper have humanity,  this may be the intention of the writer, but it might be that they believe you will never truly trust them.  They can’t fully predict your response.

Another complaint is that the plot is just too full of surprises, that the magical or scientific, adventure vehicle doesn’t have enough coherency or there are too many coincidences.  Doctor Who did have some amazing connections throughout it’s plot this season, and did seem to do it a whole lot better than Once Upon a Time.   The thread of the Impossible Girl and the curious Doctor who can’t solve her mystery, was clearly there, and understandable in the finale.

By comparison this season Once Upon a Time had so many twists and way too many story lines as to seem contrived too much even for fairytales.  He’s a stranger, looking for his father, no he’s not looking for his father, oh no there is a bigger employer outside it all. As for Doctor Who the jury is still out on the quality of some of the acting.  This season has seen some wooden acting, and a feeling of going through the motions despite the interesting storylines.  Is this the actors or the writing?

Is there enough in the script and the stories?  Are there simply too many things packed into each episode leaving little room for character development?

One show’s writers doing it well are those Person of Interest.  With a small cast of regular characters who progress, but well written regulars and guests the plot and characters seem to be gently but interestingly progressing, even the machine!  This is by far my favourite show from a writing view point, but also from the characters and acting point of view too.

There are just enough twists and turns, the character development is subtle, understated, not like a sea saw that will make you sick!

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Damsel Fly – Creative Commons

I have been down this  novel writing road before, but it was a swift free write journey for one month of Nanowrimo and  ended up at the bottom of an electronic drawer. Not this time.

This time as well as keeping in mind the armchair critics, I have a different approach,  and from an overall treatment of my novel have begun with key motifs free writes (meditations on key symbols of the novel) to thinking about structure and then onto research, google is great for that but also research from people.

Then my journey for writing the novel will begin.  No doubt there will be some going back into the cycle, of reflecting, research, creating and checking the world of the novel makes sense and is consistent.

So from magically imagining a plot out of an empty bottle, armchair critics and google I think this novel writing is going to be quite a ride and despite some annoying writing I will keep watching Doctor Who and Once Upon a Time  hoping for much better writing next season. I am so glad Person of Interest has been renewed for another season.

(c) June Perkins