Archive for August, 2013

Busy Writing and Touring


I had good intentions to write a post every couple of days on this blog – but life got in the way. Since I posted last, I’ve been to Christchurch, Wellington twice and Auckland several times. I’ve endured earthquakes (4.5 – 6.6), stormy weather, late nights and a very busy schedule. But when you do something you love – it is a pleasure!

Today I chatted to an e-book club at Christchurch Library. The kids had all read my books and had some great questions for me. I was able to tell them about my new kiwi book ‘Operation Nest Egg Chick’ coming out in Conservation Week at a very kiwi place – Auckland Zoo in the Elephant House (8th September 11am). The techie person from Pixel Book is weaving his magic so that the enhanced digital book can have drop-down boxes, activities, videos, slides and Bruce Potter’s stunning artwork tops it off. The book is about the survival of a kiwi chick raised in the Operation Nest Egg programme. If you want to see a sample of it go this website after 8th September:  At the moment you can see our first digital book ‘The Rock Standing in the Ocean’, which is about the birth of a volcanic island.

I’m also writing for the Girl Guide Association, and reading biographies about famous New Zealand sporting stars for my next book: New Zealand Hall of Fame: 25 Sporting Greats. The famous athletes’ stories are very inspiring. I love reading their biographies and interviewing them by phone. Many of the athletes are overseas so sometimes I Skype them (I was talking to World Aerobic Champion Angela McMillan in Vietnam yesterday). This book won’t be out until August/September next year.

On Monday, I received a contract for my first picture book, which is being released early March. ‘The Last of the Maui’ is about a young Maui dolphin who has to rescue his friends from the grasp of the set nets. Bruce Potter’s underwater scenes are just gorgeous. So do look out for that one.

I’m going to end with some tips to get your writing career started:

1. Read widely – you’ll absorb the different styles, the intricate language and it will inspire you to write your own stories.

2.  Write every day; whether it is emails, a diary, essays or notes. You’ll find that your thoughts, and pen/keyboard will fly when you write that often.

3.  Keep an Ideas Notebook – once you open your mind to the possibility that there are ideas all around you, you’ll want to record them. I get ideas from the TV, radio, people talking, when I go walking or driving, and sometimes I wake up with ideas.

4.  Proof-read your work and replace over-used words like car, tree, pretty, beautiful, walk, etc with vibrant verbs and precise nouns. It’ll help build pictures in the reader’s mind.

5.  Don’t give up on your dreams. I started with determination and worked hard to get my successes. It doesn’t come easy but you’ll find you’ll learn from every mistake and misfortune, and you’ll enjoy the journey along the way. Plus you’ll make great friends!

Ka kite ano!

Maria Gill

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Kids’ Books: picks from our latest newsletter

Check out some of the great new titles in our August Kids’ Books newsletter:

Cover of Pi in the Sky Cover of The Hero's Guide To Storming The Castle Cover of I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail Cover of Life of Ty Cover of Space Blasters Cover of Fly Guy and the Frankenfly Cover of Follow Follow Cover of When Is a Black Hole not a Hole?

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight to your inbox.

For more great reads for kids, check out our Fun to Read page – it links you to reading lists, if you likes, interactive quizzes and lots more.

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Celebrating Storyline Festivals around the country

Today is the beginning of the first Storyline Festival this year – in Dunedin. Children’s authors Kyle Mewburn, Adele Broadbent, Mandy Hager, Rachel Stedman, Simon Pollard, and illustrator Robyn Belton, and storyteller Tanya Batt along with International guests: Isobelle Carmody and Rachel Spratt will strut their stuff at Dunedin Central Library from 11 – 4pm.

On Sunday (11th August), I’ll be joining them along with Rachel King, Jenny Cooper, Ben Brown, Jane Buxton, and Simon Pollard at the South Christchurch Library from 10 – 3pm.

On Saturday 17th August, I’ll fly to Wellington to join writers and illustrators: Philippa Werry, Ken Benn, David Elliot, Philip Webb, Ant Sang, Fifi Colston, Ruth Paul, Moira Wairama, and Mona Williams at the Michael Fowler Centre from 10 – 3pm.

That night in Auckland authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers and anyone who loves children’s books will celebrate Storylines 20th anniversary at the National Library from 6pm to 8pm. Buy your tickets here.

The next day, I’ll join Auckland writers and illustrators: David Hill, Sally Sutton, Mark Sommerset, Chris Gurney, Nina Rycroft, Sandra Morris, Elena de Roo, Melinda Szymanik, Leonie Agnew, Fraser Williamson, Susan Brocker, Leonie Thorpe, Apirana aylor, and the matriarchs of children’s literature: Joy Cowley and Dame Lynley Dodd at the Aotea Centre from 10 – 3pm.

There are also Storyline Family Festival Days in Kaitaia at the Kaitaia Library and Te Ahu Centre from 11 – 4pm; and at the South Auckland Vodafone Events Centre from 11-3pm on Saturday 17th August for the first time!

What can you expect at a Storylines Family Festival Day? You’ll meet authors and illustrators (of course) – you’ll hear them speak, see them draw, do activities with them, get your battered or newly bought book signed and chat to them. You can also make crafts, get your face painted, watch shows, enter competitions and win prizes, and pick-up freebies. It is incredible fun – come with your kids, parents, or by yourself! It is all FREE!!!! I hope to see you there!

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Come to the Storylines Free Family Day

This Sunday (11 August), from 10am-3pm at South Library, you can come along to the Christchurch Storylines Free Family Day.  It’s your chance to meet your literary heroes – authors, illustrators, storytellers and book characters and it’s absolutely FREE!

This year you can meet:

As well as meeting some of our best authors and illustrators you can get your face painted and have a go at some of the fun activities, including create your own menu, draw a friendly monster and perform your very own poem.

See you there!

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LIANZA Children’s Book Awards winners

The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards ceremony was on in Wellington last night (Monday 5 August 2013).

Here is the list of winners. Good reads guaranteed!

Cover of Red RocksCover of The Nature of ash

LIANZA Junior Fiction Award – Esther Glen Medal. For the most distinguished contribution to literature for children aged 0-15. Red Rocks by Rachael King, (Random House New Zealand)

Pene Walsh, Awards Convenor and Gisborne Library Manager said:

although dealing with issues of a broken family, loneliness and bullying, this is an enjoyable and easy read, the story interwoven with myth, is written in a way that makes it entirely believable.

LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award. For the distinguished contribution to literature for children and young adults aged 13 years and above. The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager, (Random House New Zealand)

The strong and extremely well-developed characters, along with the dystopian theme, formed an action-packed story that in many ways reflects the current issues facing humankind today.

LIANZA Illustration Award – Russell Clark Award. For the most distinguished illustrations in a children’s book. A Great Cake by Tina Matthews, (Walker Books Australia)

Matthews’ wood cuts and stencils are expertly used in a Japanese-esque style and layers and layers of colour and texture build to create the final illustration … A visually inviting cover is the initial link from picture, to story, to words, and the explosion of imaginative synapses in between.

LIANZA Non Fiction Award – Elsie Locke Medal
For a work that is considered to be a distinguished contribution to non-fiction for young people.
At the Beach: Explore & Discover the New Zealand Seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler, (Craig Potton Publishing)

It is a hot-chocolate-table book for not only the child who loves facts but the one who love quirky stuff and stories. It is a book for browsing.

LIANZA Librarians’ Choice Award 2013. Awarded to the most popular finalist across all awards, as judged by professional librarians of LIANZA. My Brother’s War by David Hill, (Penguin NZ)

Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori). Awarded to the author of a work, written in Te Reo Māori, which makes a distinguished contribution to literature for children or young people. Ko Meru by Kyle Mewburn, translated by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly (Scholastic)

Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau, Te Kura Pounamu Panel Convenor, says children will immediately be drawn into the story because of the simplicity of a lonely mule gazing into the sky dreaming of something new:

It is a humorous read with simple and colourful illustrations that will appeal to young readers. The friendly use of onomatopoeia works well with children and the descriptive and repetitive language will happily guide the reader to patu-patupatu, kiriti=karati, takahi-takatakahi through the story.

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Fresh and free e-books and audiobooks for kids!

OverDrive is our e-book and downloadable audiobook platform. It is free to use for library members. All you need is your library card number and PIN. It contains lots of fun books for kids to read. Here are some examples!

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Meet our August Star Author – Maria Gill

Our awesome August Star Author is New Zealand author, Maria Gill.  Maria is our first Star Author who writes non-fiction books for children and adults, so we’re really excited to hear about her writing.  She writes books for children and adults that draw on her interest in birds and conservation, but she writes about a variety of topics.  Her books include Bird’s Eye View, Operation Nest Egg, Rangitoto, and 50 Remarkable Kiwis: New Zealand Hall of Fame.  Maria’s new book, Running the Country: a look inside New Zealand’s Government, is due out this month.

Thanks for joining us Maria!  We look forward to hearing all about your books and writing.

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A Writer’s Life

Hi all
I write children’s non-fiction books on a lifestyle block in North Auckland. For the next month, I’m going to share what I get up to, as a full-time writer.

I have two teenage children so as soon as they disappear on the bus I’m tapping away at the keyboard either on a freelance writing project (I’m currently doing a big writing project for Girl Guides) or writing my own books (a follow-on from New Zealand Hall of Fame, and a digitally enhanced book). I’ll also be promoting a new book of mine that is fresh out in the shops and libraries today so do look out for it. It is called ‘Running the Country‘ – all you ever wanted to know about what those politicians are doing at the Beehive, how you vote, your rights, along with caricatures by Malcolm Evans, a timeline that goes throughout the book on the political history of New Zealand and other interesting stuff.

Tomorrow, I head off to the New Zealand Family History Fair at the Vodafone Centre in Manukau to talk to Intermediate and High School students about my research process. Now, some of you might yawn at the thought of doing research but I love it. It’s like being a detective; finding clues and doggedly staying on the trail until I find what I want. I’ll be sharing how I’ve overcome research problems with them.

On Saturday, I’m speaking at the Bookrapt Conference in Tauranga along with children’s authors’ Lynley Dodd and Chris Gurney. I’m talking about why New Zealand children’s non-fiction books are important and how we could celebrate them.

On Monday, I fly to Wellington for the LIANZA awards. I’ll put on my best frock and catch up with other shortlisted authors and illustrators who have travelled from all over the country for the award ceremony. My book ‘Eruption! Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes’ has been nominated along with Te Papa’s book ‘100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa’ and Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler’s book ‘At the Beach’.

On Wednesday, I’m visiting school children at Goodwood School in Cambridge. They’re studying sustainability so I’ll be sharing my environment books with them. I’m taking my puppets (I have 20 of them) for kids to act out just how vulnerable our native birds are (yes, you guessed it they’re native bird and predator puppets).

I’ll be home for a few days so I’ll catch up with you again then. I’ll tell you a few tales and share what I’m doing with the Storyline Festivals around the country. (Check out where they are on )

Ka kite ano

Maria Gill (see inside my books on this website)


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