Welcome to My Words!

READ WRITE INSPIRE. Welcome to my Words, a place devoted to making Reading and Writing for children more Inspired.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Author Interview - Feeling happy with Nicky Johnston

As the flurries of anxieties created by recent NAPLAN testings settle, I am reminded that even the youngest of minds can be beset with worries, which may manifest themselves so firmly within a child’s physchie that they become dangerously debilitating.

I’ve seen it in kids around me, in my own nephew and most alarmingly, my own daughter (although not from NAPLAN – she loved that experience).

The need to reach out to and persuade young people to fight their worries and to cultivate strong healthy convictions about who they are and what they are capable of spurred the urge to write a book to show them how. This is still a work in progress for me, however, fortunately, for the welfare of children everywhere, Australian author illustrator, Nicky Johnston has already penned a few useful books addressing these exact issues.

Her first attempt to battle ‘worry thoughts’ in children appeared in 2008 with her self-illustrated picture book, Go Away MrWorrythoughts. Bayden should be an intelligent and courageous young boy yet anxiety in the shape of one Mr Worrythoughts plagues him. This ugly beast threatens to sap every ounce of Bayden’s energy and zest for life until thankfully one day, Bayden realises that the power to overcome Mr Worrythoughts dwells within him.

Johnston’s picture book Happythoughts are Everywhere, followed in 2009. Bayden returns, still suffering from the odd bout of worry. However, being a little older and wiser means he is slowly able to accept that counting ones blessings is akin to finding happy thoughts everywhere, and with them to occupy his life, there is positively no room for worry and fear.

Each of these stories is backed up with some very clever and useful tips on how to banish worrying thoughts and replace them with happy ones; simple, straightforward strategies to help children take control of their mental well-being.

Johnston’s latest picture book, Actually, I Can, hit the shelves in 2013. Two new characters appear Connor and Amelia. Connor is shy and concerned and wishes he shared a confidence more like his friend, Amelia. Amelia’s sense of daring and adventure take them both on a journey of discovery and revelation.

Amid a swelling sea of books attempting to address and improve the mental health and self-esteem of our young people, NickyJohnston handles the notion that simply changing your attitude can change everything with clear insight and sensitivity.

I asked Nicky what her motivation was to write these books and a little about herself. Here’s what she had to say…

Q. Who is Nicky Johnston? Describe your writerly / illustrator self.

I always have more ideas than time. I am a busy mum to four boys and I absolutely love my job as a writer and illustrator.

I would love to say that I am an organised, routine writer/illustrator, with a tidy desk and a daily planned schedule. But I am more like a mad scientist. I have numerous journals and sketch pads that capture ideas or images and sometimes I can get so swept up in a project that I work all night without realising it. I have a tight ‘mum taxi’ schedule so my writing and artwork tend to be slotted in where available. I do love my weekends when I can sneak into my studio for a while before anyone finds me!

My favourite part of my writerly/illustrator self is when I visit schools or workshops. I just LOVE teaching children, inspiring and motivating them. I love watching their eyes sparkle as they realise they too can become a mad scientist like me.

Q. What were the main motivators for writing your picture books about coping with anxieties and worries?

My very first book ‘Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts!’ was borne from the huge need for a children’s book about worrying. My eldest son was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at just 5 years of age and back then, there were very few children’s books available for me to read with him. So I decided to write and illustrate one.

I always knew there were many children with anxiety, little worriers just like my son, but I had no idea that these books would raise such awareness and become in such demand over the coming years.

Mental health issues in children are now becoming a big focus for parents and educators and it is wonderful to be able to provide some valuable resources. I was recently a speaker alongside Dr Michael Carr-Gregg (renowned child/teen psychologist) who told the audience that my books are a main resource that psychology professionals reach for when dealing with children with anxiety.

Q. How do you use your books in your roles as an educator and author? And why do you think it’s important to do so?

As an author of children’s books tackling anxiety, and a mother dealing with a child with an anxiety disorder, my books have lead me to be involved in a variety of speaking opportunities, talking to professionals, educators, parents and even working with children in schools. By talking about my books and their inspiration (my son’s journey) it is not only raising awareness of mental health issues in children, but also providing information, support and the understanding that anxiety in children is treatable and manageable and that early intervention (like anything) is always the best action.

‘Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts’ has been adapted into a theatrical production and is currently in its fourth year of touring primary schools in Victoria. It is a brilliant production and is a wonderful way for educators to address resilience and emotional well-being in children.

Q. What’s next for Nicky?

I am currently working on a children’s book that I have written and illustrated for an organisation due for release later this year. I also have another children’s book I am hoping to work on, again with a focus on anxiety and resilience.

I am also working with Frankston Arts Centre, as we are trying to take the theatrical production of ‘Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts!’ on a national tour, and perhaps even adapting my most recent book ‘Actually, I Can’ into a production also.

I never really know what is just around the corner, and I love that most opportunities pop out of left field when I least expect them.

Me too, Nicky. Thanks for visiting.

Please note, this interview was conducted earlier last year. For the very latest on Nicky's beautiful artwork and stories, please visit her, here.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Lucky Duckies

Love reaching into a Lucky Dip and plucking out a prize? I do. The mystery of the unknown, the anticipation of the find is too tantalising to pass up.

Here's something else you'll find hard to pass up...a new kids' anthology.

The Lucky Draw anthology is an exciting collection of stories and poems for children aged between 7 to 12 years, covering 7 different genres told by 33 authors. Over 50 stories to thrill, intrigue, amaze and delight. 

Yours truly features in the adventure section, because my life rocks with adventure. Well, okay my imagination gets pretty fired up from time to time, even if I don't leave the house anymore.

Check it out for yourselves, here.

Available now, if you ask me really nicely, or even just plain old nicely.

Prints Charming Books April 2015

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

After Yasi Blog Tour - Finding the Smile with June Perkins

Living in a land which boasts as many natural disasters as natural wonders, can result in the worst of times and perversely, the best of times. Ex-resident of Far North Queensland's Cassowary Coast, June Perkins, is no stranger to both phenomena.

Cyclones are not uncommon in this neck of the rainforest however how their impact affects the lives and livelihoods of those in their wake varies as violently as their magnitude. In After Yasi - Finding the Smile Within, a deeply absorbing collage of images, anecdotes and post-Yasi survivor profiles, Perkins captures the very essence, the profound spirit of recovery.

After Yasi distills the stubborn tenacity and resilience of neighbours and friends, loved ones and indeed the entire community into a stirring visual tribute of them struggling to regain normality after an acutely abnormal interruption to their lives.

Instead of being a somber exposition of loss and destruction, After Yasi allows hope to permeate through every page thanks to the simple, heart-felt recollections of those who survived it first hand and Perkin's unerring ability to capture offbeat and spiritual moments on film.

Today we discover more about the lady behind the radiant smile and how she crafted this beautiful tale of resilience.

Welcome to Dim's Write Stuff June.

Who is June Perkins? Describe your artistic self.

I’d describe myself as optimistic, searching, caring about community and family, working across genres and open to creative experimentation.

After Yasi centres on the journey of recovery post a traumatic event. Why was it important for you to capture and record this journey?

It was a way of contributing to the wider community recovery using creative, emotional and imaginative resources I already used in everyday life but that I could put at the service of others.

You write from the heart in an appreciably fluid and honest way. What motivated you to produce After Yasi in this format?

I wanted to capture the event and process of recovering afterwards in a way that led you into the situation of after the cyclone gently and subtly, even though the reality of it was physically, socially and economically traumatic for people.  It was important to cover it in a way that wasn’t the same as newspaper or historical  society type coverage but was more about how people’s hearts are affected and healed after such an event.

I wanted to use an e-format to make if affordable to view the colour photographs and encourage people to look at the online blogs, and films as well as experience that text and images of the book.

What message are you trying to convey?

That the recovery from trauma can be enhanced in so many ways but the artist/writer/musician can play a unique role in that process.  Everyone has their own way of recovering and growing from an experience like this too and I wanted to capture that diversity – so gardening and sport are in there too.  Individuals and communities can create initiatives that make a difference to people going through recovery and these can draw on their own unique talents.

I have been particularly moved by a friend Melinda who has gone onto help others in Philippines, (using music and her other talents with business mentoring) who have been through cyclones and me and others from that area want to find ways to assist with or collaborate with her as she does this work.

What do you enjoy more, capturing visual and emotional moments on film or in stories with words?

In the process of After Yasi I developed a great love for short documentary and would like to pursue this more in the future.  I still love writing but film is a very powerful medium because people forward speak for themselves.  I am amazed at how accessible this form is, with the rise of digital SLRs which also capture video and cheap editing programs.  

The desire to make a film can make it happen once you have a few basic skills, and ABC Open helped me a lot with gaining confidence to just go for it.  It’s not about having expensive equipment it’s about respecting  and understanding your subject and making sure you collect your sound and visuals well enough that someone can watch it and become engaged in the story you discover.

I loved making the short film with Pam and Joe Galeano as I could capture their personality quite differently to a paper account.  

They were both so relaxed and natural as they shared their stories of the same cyclone night.  I screened portions of this film at a presentation at the Queensland Museum and it was cool hearing people laugh because the relationship with Pam and Joe came through so strongly in the piece.  He was trying to look after the farm and she just wanted him to be safe.  I edited them speaking the same event alternating and it was actually quite humorous, even though the event was quite heavy.

You yourself have recently relocated from FNQ. Do you ever picture yourself returning? Why so or why not?

I would definitely return to visit people or undertake some sort of creative project but am not sure I would return there to live.  Part of that is the climate doesn’t completely suit an ongoing chronic health condition I have.

We’d been thinking about leaving before the cyclone for my children’s opportunities to study in the city and because I was finding it hard to secure regular work but we ended up staying to assist in the recovery process.  My husband was a local school teacher very concerned for the well- being of his students doing year 12 in the year the cyclone struck.  He didn’t want us just to abandon ship, leave and get on with our lives in another place.  

Many people simply couldn’t stay after the cyclone, and leaving worked well for them but I am glad we stayed though as we had people who knew what we had been through all around us and we could support each other in the recovery process.  I think we may have been even more traumatised had we moved away and not seen the community in a much happier place.

What remains in our hearts always is the strong sense of community.  Since we left we have had visitors from the area catch up with us in our new home.  They are now family.

The After Yasi story is a balanced narrative told mostly through the observations and recollections of those affected directly by it. Was it difficult for you and them to relive their ordeal, or was it more of a cathartic experience for all concerned?

I began with interviewing people I knew quite well, and gradually that became people I didn’t know very well or at all.  I didn’t specifically ask them to relive their ordeal, but more to tell me about the photograph that I captured them in.  This was usually a community recovery event like a concert or clearing their yard with a chainsaw -all proactive attempts to get on with life.

Out of cyclone rubbish, I made an anchor ~ Christine Jenkins
The photographic trigger was helpful in unlocking a positive experience amidst all the uncertainty in the years after the cyclone.  Interestingly some wanted to write or talk about the cyclone and did find it cathartic.  My family found the experience of working with ABC Open to tell our our story on film was cathartic.  

I particularly enjoyed interviewing my youngest son, who was keen to have his own digital story of what we went through during the cyclone, that will be a precious family keepsake.

Has Yasi heightened your fear of cyclones and natural disasters or reinforced your ability to deal with whatever life throws at you?

The biggest thing cyclone Yasi did for me was to teach me you just have to go for it in life and live your dreams, care about others and never ever give up if you have to make a change.  Good things will nearly always come out of challenges if you are determined.  In my case it was developing online stories and films for ABC Open and making many close friends I might never have had.

I certainly feel compassion for anyone in the world when I hear of cyclone warnings know the potentialities of what can happen. But I’ve learnt whilst you can’t always control if a natural disaster will come your way you can control how you respond to it.  

I might not now live near a cyclone area, but the Brisbane storms can get pretty interesting.  I had some friends say to me after the last severe one (their house and whole suburb was extensively damaged and they were out driving in it to get home.) .‘Wow we just had a small taste of what you went through.  Now we think we really understand.’  I felt pretty calm through it all as it wasn’t as scary as the cyclone we had been through, but was a bit concerned as my son and his Dad were trying to get home from cricket training.

They have a copy of my book and have read it and many of my online works. – I hope my book made it a lot easier for them as it mostly covers the time after you have been through something like this. 
There are many in the world still recovering decades after events, as the tsunami ten years on accounts show, and they went through far more than the people of the Cassowary Coast.  Yet, even out of this disaster have come some amazingly optimistic and inspiring stories, such as some orphans of that event now doing work to fund orphanages in tribute to the locals who helped them find their way home.  Having a hope and strength but also being allowed to grieve what you lost is important in all recovery from trauma.

After Yasi, what’s next for June?

I’d like keep telling stories through film, photography and writing.  I am looking for stories that pull at my heart strings and motivate me and others to become even more caring to others.  I’d like to become better and better at this by working on the crafts and meeting some people who live these stories. I might even take some courses to learn more about sound editing and production.
I am interested in writing and creating things for a children and young adults audience and am working on these skills as well.

Now more than anything I’d like to gain or create regular work or that can not only help me contribute to society but to my family’s economic well-being (and pay for an insurance policy).  It’s important to look after your own family as well as the community and not do one thing at the expense of another.

Wise words. Thanks June for your beautifully considered insights. I for one look forward to reading and viewing more of your work. If you feel the same way, stick around for the rest of the After Yasi tour. Have you endured a traumatic event and emerged a more resilient person because of it? We'd love to hear your story, please leave a comment or two.

Best comments for each blog will be given special prizes, either a free copy of the ebook or a choice of a signed print of one of the photographs from the book.

The After Yasi Blog Tour includes visits to:

January 27  (Tuesday) Karen Tyrrell http://www.karentyrrell.com/
January 28 (Wednesday) Dimity Powell – interview /http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/
January 29 (Thursday) Charmaine Clancy http://charmaineclancy.com/
January 29 (Friday) Michele DeCosta  https://micheledacosta.wordpress.com/
Jan 30 Jedda Bradley– interview https://www.facebook.com/jeddabradleyartist
Jan 31 (Saturday) Carol Campbell http://writersdream9.wordpress.com
Jan 31 (Saturday) Gail Kavanagh  (review) http://gailkavanagh.com/blog/
Feb 1 (Sunday)Owen Allen Place Stories http://owen59.wordpress.com/
Feb 2  Ali Stegert (Monday)  http://ali-stegert.com/
Feb 3 (Tuesday) ABC Open (to be confirmed) http://open.abc.net.au
Feb 3   Melinda Irvine (interview) http://businessonblue.com.au/
Feb 4 (Wed) wrap up and thankyou blog from June https://pearlz.wordpress.com

You can find sample pages of the ebook here:
And purchase the book here:
Feel most welcome to attend from wherever you are in the world, the online launch February 3rd
See the facebook page: The Launch Link: 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Navigating Life and the Bermunda Triangle

When the gorgeous ladies of Kids Book Review slung 12 curly questions my way recently, like a rapacious puppy, I couldn't help but chase after them, eager to give them a good gnawing over.

The experience made me question something else also: the slippery egocentric thrill (most) of us gain from being asked something about ourselves. Given the time to actually think about your response is a blessing some interviewees don't always have, but when you do, I find it an interesting exploration of ones own psyche or concept of it. In other words, being forced to answer to yourself about yourself can be an honest way of hosing back the layers of obscuring detail we tend to let build up over time. Interviews  often evoke a sense of rediscovery and definition. After all, it's almost as fascinating and self satisfying to waffle on about yourself as it is to delve into the inner sanctums of those you are morbidly curious about.

But mainly I find author interviews, whether my own or about others, just plain good fun and for me, a great way of sharing just a teeny weeny bit more about myself with my reading and supportive audiences.

Voyeuristic? Sure. Self-indulgent? Quite possibly. Entertaining? Made me smile.

Life is a story. All of them are. And there's nothing better than a good yarn.

Find out for yourself here when KBR grab me by the Short and Curlies.

12 Curly Questions with author Dimity Powell

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fear - A natural part of life

Halloween is over. You've washed off the fake blood and gore, packed away your cob webs and scoffed the last of your treats. It was fun frolicking about with your wildest fears, but now you just can't seem to shake that awful feeling that somewhere, somehow a duck is watching you. Is this you? Chances are if you suffer from Anatidaephobia, it is.
A Duck is Watching me

'I'm afraid of the dark, 'specially when I'm in a park and there's no one else around. Oh I get the shivers' So says Des'ree. What do you fear? 90s music perhaps?

Does the thought of whipping up something for dinner turn your guts to soup? You could have a touch of Mageirocophobia (fear of cooking)

Think that dewlling in the desert is the sea change for you? You'll never have to deal with Ombrophobia out there (fear of being rained on)

Find your heart racing at the sight of a man's face half obscured by facial hair? Sounds like your Pogonophobia is acting up again (fear of beards)

Well fear not, because you're simply suffering from an extreme bout of irrational  dread -A phobia. But the good news according to science broadcaster and compiler of A Duck is Watching Me: Strange and Unusual Phobias, Bernie Hobbs is that most phobias are easy to treat.

Fear is healthy and absolutely necessary for initiating the flight or fight response, crucial to our survival and precisely controlled by a chain reaction of hormones.Without it I would undoubtedly waste a lot more time sitting around passively watching deadly spiders slink up and down my limbs rather than keeping a respectful hundred foot distance from them.

But while most of us have the ability to process real threats and rationalise our way out of stressful situations, phobia sufferers are typically not able to talk themselves calm.

This collection of phobias conveniently groups like fears into obvious, easy to navigate chapters: animals, people, places and so on so you can look up the name of your inability to keep anything tidy and clean (for instance) in a snap. Many of these phobias have bizarre and curious origins, you'll wonder if they are in fact real. The pronunciation of their names alone is enough to strike fear into my wee weak heart. But real they are and for many of those who suffer from them, instantly recognisable.

Hobbs points out that some phobias originate from a learned response to a stressful experience - a redheaded bully stealing a young child's lunch on a daily basis. Avoiding redheads rather than learning to manage the fear (and bullies), can lead to a phobia (of redheads for example).

Disturbingly, they may also be passed on down the gene line according to recent studies, in mice at least. Thankfully desensitisation and behavioural therapies can successfully help phobia sufferers to live a life without terror.

Every fear is paired with an amusing illustration, photo or painting from the National Library's collection pertinent to its decription, making this book not only an entertaining insightful reference book but also an unusual quirky gift. Definitely on the recommended for Christmas list.
You'll find a Duck is Watching Me: Strange and Unusual Phobias in all good bookstores and on line here .

National Library of Australia November 2014

Know a child who suffers from the a crippling fear, say the Dark? Then stick around for my upcoming review of Orion and the Dark. It's an incredible fear remover.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Review - Snap Magic - It's more than hocus pocus

Little Witches ~ Angela and sister Nadia Sunde
at Snap Magic's Launch
Tweenhood is a terrifically testing time. One I remember of intense scrutiny when everything about you; the way you look, the way you dress and the friends you avoid suddenly becomes big deal. You find yourself navigating that mystical ground twixt ‘little kid’ and ‘fully fledged adolescent’, feeling as though your every move is being examined under some humongous magnifying glass for humiliating broadcast. It’s a time to loosen grip on your childhood beliefs while at the same time search for new vessels of magic in which to float your maturing soul. Complicated concepts at any age, but utterly bewildering at age twelve. Yet Lily Padd, star of Angela Sunde’s inaugural Pond Magic, is about to set sail in another tale of pre-puberty angst to prove to us all that tweenhood really is ‘a snap’.

Snap Magic snaps, crackles and fizzes from the moment Lily plunges into the girls’ toilets to escape the painful inflictions of Rick Bastek, a lad with limited like-appeal and tarnished intelligence. Aside from the awful daily avoidance of being ‘snapped’ by Rick, Lily is also at odds with an embarrassing secret of her own which threatens the childhood confidence she shares with her long time bestie, Maureen.

Things slide further down the gurgler when the two girls realise their whispered bathroom exchanges have been overheard by Ellen Middleton, the meanest, prettiest girl in school, who’s so feminine she makes you want ‘to puke’; you know the type.

Lily is distraught beyond words. Ellen threatens to divulge every lurid detail about Lily to the whole school which could easily ruin any hope of snagging a friendship with the staggeringly charming new boy, Storm. 

Maureen is convinced witchcraft is to blame again after she notices long black hairs sprouting from her best friend’s face. She might well be right when Lily’s bewitching neighbour, Mrs Swan becomes involved. It isn’t until the eve of the school’s Halloween Dance that Lily realises that if magic can cause such colossal chaos, perhaps it can overcome it too. 

Snap Magic is a book young girls and boys will instantly warm to. Angela Sunde has magicked a spellbinding story that showers readers with more sparkling moments of silliness than there are hairs on a yeti’s chin, which by the end of the story, are many.

Lily is a lovably verve-loaded girl with a wry sense of humour whose desire for obscure normality is at conflict with her knowledge of things of a more Wiccan nature. Sunde has crafted a cast of non-obnoxious characters easy to read and laugh along with, my favourite being Maureen; pumpkin-haired, brazen tempered, self-assured and faithful as a puppy.

With gossamer fine references to Cinderella floating throughout, Snap Magic reinvents the twist in twisted fairy tales with frequently funny injections of parody. Nothing escapes Sunde’s wickedly wacky observation of our humble suburban lives: snap and store party plans, frozen bras and spectral pumpkin soup; it’s all there to be snapped up, now.

Snap Magic is the perfect bookshelf companion to Pond Magic yet reading it first will in no way diminish the magic of either.

Terrific for tweens, lovers of pumpkin soup and budding little witches everywhere.

Red Pedal Press October 2014 You can locate Snap Magic here.

Follow Angela as she zaps around on her Blog Tour broomstick. Check out the dates and places by clicking on the Snap Banner.

Want to talk to a real witch? I chat with Angela about Snap Magic and casting spells over at Boomerang Books Blog. (OK, so she’s not really a witch but boy can she cackle and looks super fetching in witches’ britches.)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

What Are Your Dreams Worth?

A week or so ago I rambled on about the whys and wherefores of seeking out grants and how to go about securing one for yourself. You can read all about how and when the penny dropped for me here.

Now that I have successfully acquitted my first grant, I have time to reflect on exactly what it meant, what I gained from it and whether I'd do it all over again. So here we go, my top reasons for granting yourself permission to shine:

What did it mean being awarded a grant?
  • Freedom.To expand on my writing goals and bring more of them closer to fruition.
  • Resources. To perfect my picture book projects. I undertook a structured mentorship with Dee White to facilitate this.
  • Choice. To use funds to make decisions that positively influenced, affected and improved my craft.
It meant I could afford a mentor. It meant I could afford to attend conferences and workshops that not only enriched my writerly soul but skill box as well. It meant I had available finance to validate the existence and worthiness of a writing project, which in turn meant I had ruddy well get on and make it work. Knowing this meant I could get up everyday and actually feel like I was going to work. Psychologically, that was wonderful for my creative mojo.

What did I gain from funding?
  • A sense of acknowledgement. Somebody was willing to take a punt on me. That's an awesome feeling. It drives you to deliver.
  • Pride. I was financially better armed and more determined than ever to perfect (picture book) manuscripts that had for too long languished about in files and second place, just out of publishers' cross hairs. It felt like I was taking (better) ownership of them again.
  • Accessibility. I was able to actively participate in and attend festivals and conferences that had erstwhile been just out of my reach.
  • Intensive mentoring. This was a marvellous rite of passage for me as a writer. To work one-on-one with a mentor who gets you and your work yet still strives to push you beyond your comfort zone is not always as fun as eating cake but I personally found it just as moreish. It raised the challenge of self-editing, writing harder, thinking smarter and remaining honest to myself to exhilaratingly new levels. This was something I hadn't always got from writing group appraisals or buddy critiques alone.  Mentoring meant I had somebody permanently there, watching my back, ready to lend a supporting hand whenever my words fell into a pot hole and needed pulling out.
  • Achievement. I feel I have really learned something after another year of workshops and exposure to industry professionals. Perhaps I would have attended those courses anyway in due course, but through mentoring, I've been able to consolidate that knowledge; really get to know it and apply it in a way that feels more akin to second nature than ever before.
  • Publication. Well, not quite but ever closer. One manuscript is still with a prospective publisher as a result of months of rewriting and work on it. Maybe they'll be the next 'somebody' willing to take a punt on me...
So would I do it all over again?

You betcha. While the whole process of tracking down the best funding opportunity for you and your project and subsequently applying for it does chew into a fair chunk of your writing time, it is at the same time a liberating and gratifying experience, similar to getting your stories on the page in the first place.

Many other grant recipients I know have gone on to produce and or publish fine works with the monies (and time) they've received through funding bodies. Having dreams is fine. Relentlessly pursuing them is great. Not being afraid of asking for help when your dream pool dries up now and then is simply a sensible (and not uncommon) business decision.

Regardless of what direction my personal publishing success takes, I will continue to apply for further funding. And I remain compelled to connect with my (young) reading community, because I feel this is a crucial component of my job as a writer for children, and therefore a patron of children's literature.

In the words of Yann Martel:

If we citizens do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.

Make your dreams count.