So... I've got some pretty exciting news!
But before I get to that, I've got a question for you: What sort of pets did you have when you were little?
I had quite a few! Ranging from goats to a blue tongue lizard, a doberman to homing pigeons, a young kangaroo to a guinea pig named Nix. Don't worry, these pets were spread out over the years and locations we lived in. But they've got great memories attached and lately I've been wandering down memory lane quite a lot as I've been on the lookout for ideas, adventures and emotions for a brand new series of stories for children!
Yes, my big news is that despite the discouragements of COVID and the unsettled nature of the year, I've got some new books coming soon. And these ones are a little different from anything else I've written because they're the first set of books I've ever co-written AND independently published Introducing the Pet Sitters series!
The Pet Sitters books are a series of early chapter books for 6-9 year olds. They're about two best friends who'd love to have pets, but can't so they end up pet sitting a range of other people's pets. The first pet they pet sit is a talking cat named Gus and this grumpy, opinionated and yet thoroughly adorable cat is a huge feature of all the subsequent stories. As the tagline for the series says:
Two pet sitters. One talking cat... What could possibly go wrong?!
This is SUCH a fun series to write! One reason is probably because I haven't been writing it alone. I've been collaborating with friend and fellow Christian children's and middle grade author, Cecily Anne Paterson (you can learn more about her books here). We've planned this series together, laughed at some of the crazy ideas we've come up with and then written the books, chapter a turn. We'll also be independently publishing the books under the joint pen name of Ella Shine (to avoid the difficult and inefficient combination of both our names on the front covers!).
It's been exciting to watch how God has brought together all the different aspects of this project. Illustrator Lisa Flanagan (who has worked on many significant projects including the Christian children's book Mighty Mighty King by Penny Morrison) eagerly signed up to do the artwork for the series. With full colour covers and internal black-line illustrations to accompany each chapter, Lisa's been doing an amazing job! Cecily and I have been thrilled to see how she's brought our characters to life on the pages of these stories so far.
But it's not just text and pictures for these books. The Pet Sitters series will also be available as audiobooks, due to a successful grant from the NSW Government, Create NSW. The stories will be recorded by Australian voice actor, Suzanne Ellis and will be launched simultaneously with the ebooks on December 1. (Print books will follow in the new year.)
So that's my exciting news. Now back to the question from above: What sort of pets did you have when you were little? (Maybe we'll feature them in one of our Pet Sitter stories!)
In high school I used to call them 'thinks' - little bits of writing about whatever topic or issue I was mulling over at the time. These days I probably call them journal entries, or blog posts. Whatever the name, here's some of what I get when the penny drops, or doesn't, and I sit down to write...