Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

March 2, 2013

Gracie and Josh Launch

Down came the rain but it didn’t wash out the launch of Gracie and Josh, a new picture book written by Susanne Gervay and illustrated by Serena Geddes. Despite the deluge, readers, authors, poets, playwrights, editors, parents and children, representatives from the children’s charity Variety came from as far afield as Wollongong, The Central Coast and the Hunter to help launch this very special storybook, including Beverly George, Jodie Wells Slowgrove, Vicki Stanton, Sarah Davis and Nikau, Sue Murray, Rachel Greenwood, Libby Gleeson, Wendy Blaxland, Moya Simons, Meredith Costain, Kristie Lamb and Nina; and many many more.

The unseasonably cold weather and rain was forgotten as the heart-warming storybook of Gracie and Josh was launched amid singing, laughter and storytelling.

Paul McDonald, who hosted the launch at The Children’s Bookshop at Beecroft, introduced Susanne Gervay and Serena Geddes, while Meredith Costain from Ford Street Publishing spoke about the importance of Gracie and Josh.

Susanne, as always, was an absolute delight holding adults and children alike in the palm of her hand. Serena could have popped out of a Disney movie herself, with her natural grace and warmth. Serena spoke of her own experience of having a sibling with a serious illness and how the story had brought back vivid memories and emotions.

Wendy Blaxland led the children and adults in a fine rendition of Incy Wincy Spider, which had everybody laughing, as the rain came down outside. Though the sun didn’t come out to dry up all the rain, the sunny disposition of Susanne and Serena kept their young audience entranced and engaged as Susanne read the story and Serena held up her delightful and imaginative illustrations. Children and adults alike queued to have their books signed by Susanne and Serena. Everyone was delighted to be given the sweetest little ‘Gracie’ in full spider costume, to take home with their book.

Gracie and Josh show how children can use their imaginations and dreams to deal with the effects of a life-threatening illness of a child in the family. In between trying to deal with an illness that they don’t fully understand, Gracie and Josh collaborate to create their own stories. The wit and spontaneity keep the story from becoming too heavy and yet the seriousness of the illness is never diminished. It is a testament to the skill and light hand that Susanne’s writing brings to this story that this combination can be so successfully achieved.

Susanne says: ‘Deeply personal, Gracie and Josh is our public testament to the resilience and courage and love of children’.

I highly recommend Gracie and Josh to all young readers as well as to school and public librarians.

Gracie and Josh is endorsed by Variety, the children’s charity.

Gracie and Josh is Published by Ford Street Publishing and is out in bookshops from today.

For more, please see Susanne Gervay’s Blog

November 29, 2010

Fellowships, Awards, Competitions and a campaign to Save Our School


From Jackie Hosking:


ABC Radio National’s ‘Hindsight’ featured the magazine in a recent program:

As the ABC’s website says, the world’s oldest literary magazine for children (95 years and counting) is published without fuss by a small, dedicated and skilled staff who are part of the NSW Department of Education and Training: 4 separate titles for a total of 160 000 readers each month, for 10 issues a year. Subscribers who relish the words and illustrations. Subscribers who develop a love of reading, and who enjoy the range of stories, poems, plays, articles, comic series and activities into the 36 full-colour pages of each of the 40 magazines each year. Subscriptions are as strong for 2011 as ever … let’s hope there will be magazines to deliver to them.

During the Hindsight program, Noela Young, who has been illustrating for the magazine for more than 50 years, suggests that the School Magazine doesn’t receive the recognition it may deserve because its readers are children, whose voices are not heard widely. Some of Australia’s best-loved and most successful writers and illustrators of children’s literature attribute their start in the industry to the magazine.

 The School Magazine accepts unsolicited manuscripts and is a starting point for new writers, as well as on-going income for more established contributors. The School Magazine is part of a very large NSW government department. A new entity is being formed by the merging of two separate units within the department. The Magazine is part of one of these units. As part of the merger, all staff in both units have been told their current employment ceases at the end of of January. Permanent staff may be offered positions in the new entity. The rest have not.

The magazine may still be produced, but it probably won’t be the literary magazine for children it always has been. School Magazine is unique Australian literature for children. There is the very real risk that the magazine will not continue. It’s now only 2 months until the deadline!



Thanks, Jackie, for bringing this important development to our attention.

Pass It On is the essential Australian magazine for writers, especially children’s book writers, illustrators, editors and publishers. published and distributed each Monday.



Varuna Publisher Fellowships 2010

Applications accepted from 1 November 2010 Closes: 30 November 2010 – must be delivered (electronically) by 5pm.

A fantastic opportunity for authors, this award offers 15 six-night residential fellowships during June 2011 to writers selected by Allen & Unwin, Random House Australia, Text, Scribe, University of Queensland Press, Picaro Press and Pan Macmillan Australia. The two writers selected by each of the publishers (and one standout addition) will be offered a three weeks residency at Varuna in June 2011. This includes a one-hour consultation with a Varuna writing consultant, a Varuna writing consultant will read their finished manuscript before being it is sent to the publisher. Cost : $55 (including GST) per application. Fees cover administrative costs and help sustain this program. Successful applicants contribute $300 towards a 6-night residency at Varuna and a consultation with a Varuna writing consultant. For Program Details, Guidelines and application forms:



Completed applications must be received by 30 January 2011. Applications are now invited for the 2011 Unwin Trust Fellowship, which enables a member of the Australian book trade to visit the UK for up to 3 months.

All working in Australian bookselling and publishing are eligible. Applicants are asked to put together a proposal to carry out a project which will both enhance their own understanding of the UK book trade and will provide a means to increase understanding of each market by the other. It is envisaged that the successful candidate will have at least three years’ experience in the book industry, and a clear view as to how the experience gained will be of benefit to their career. They should also expect to participate in some seminars/briefings on their return.

The judges will be looking for original and constructive proposals, and applicants should also provide a timetable and approximate budget. It is expected that time spent in the UK will be between two and three months and the Trust will provide funding for travel, accommodation etc up to £10,000.

A detailed career CV should be provided, along with at least two written references. Appropriate confirmation from employers that sufficient leave of absence will be granted should be provided.

Please apply to Maree McCaskill, Director, Australian Publishers Association, Suite 60/89 Jones Street, Ultimo NSW, 2007. Email:

The Unwin Charitable Trust actively supports book-related projects in the UK and it owns Book House in London which is home to the Publishers Training Centre and Book Trust.


Larissa Behrendt, is NSW Australian of the Year.

The award, presented at a ceremony in Sydney, is in recognition of her passionate and articulate advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders”. Her award means that she is also a finalist in the Australian of the Year awards to be announced on Australia Day in January 2011. Congratulations, Larissa.


Congratulations to the winners of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2010:

Non-fiction, The Colony: A History of Early Sydney by Grace Karskens; Fiction, Dog Boy by Eva Hornung; Children’s fiction, Star Jumps by Lorraine Marwood; Young adult fiction, Confessions of a Liar, Thief and Failed Sex God by Bill Condon.

CBCA and Koala Award Honours

 Libby Gleeson’s book Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House, Illustrated by Freya Blackwood, was shortlisted for the Early Childhood Book of the Year in Children’s Book Council of Australia Book 2010 Awards.

The Max Remy series by Deborah Abela is listed on the Honour Books for the Koala Awards for Children’s books.


Why not enter some competitions and awards yourself?

Here are some to give you a start:

The 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize

Deadline: 31 March 2011

The Bristol Short Story Prize is open to everyone, whether they are based in the UK or outside the UK. The winning writer will receive £1,000 and all 20 writers whose stories are published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 4 will receive at least £100. The winning story will, also, be published in Bristol Review of Books and Venue magazine Stories can be entered online or by post.

Please read the 2011 BSSP rules and competition details before entering.

Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature

Nominations are open and a prize pool of $130,000 is on offer.

There are six national awards (of which five are open for nomination) for the best published in Australia works in the previous two years in six genres.

For detailed guidelines for the 2010 Adelaide Festival awards, please see: Support & Funding at

Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing Travelers’ Tales

runs an annual award to honour great travel writing, the Solas Awards with $1,000 prize money for Best Travel Story of the Year. All entries will be considered for Travelers’ Tales books. Stories submitted after the deadline will be entered in the following year’s contest.

 Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest

The winner earns $500 for sharing their living abroad experiences. See the guidelines .

The Good Reading website competitions list is definitely worth a look.

No excuses–take inspiration from our award winning authors and motivation from the many fellowships, awards, competitions and opportunities–to keep you going, avoid writers’ block, kick-start your writing or begin that writing project you’ve been meaning to tackle.

Tempus Fugit 🙂

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