Auckland Book Tour Highlights

My 6 days in Auckland were jam-packed with visits, meetings and events. I visited 6 schools, delivered 8 talks, lunched with booksellers, attended the New Zealand Book Industry Awards and had a lovely catch up with some author friends.

I started at Hebron Christian College, sharing my story about how the Spark series came to be – from dream to publication. What a delightfully inquisitive group. It was particularly exciting to meet many young and eager writers. (I love how awkward I look in this photo.)

Hebron Christian School pic

Then my utterly fearless Australian publicist zoomed us across the city in the rental car through the spectacular rain storm aided only by a simple NAVman to Baradine College where I met a group of English students in the library. Some of the senior students grilled me with excellent searching questions about theme and structure. I also had the opportunity to meet a lovely Twitter friend here, Sucheta. (Holy moly, check that smile: dial it down, Rach.)

Rach and Sucheta

No time for lunch because it was all GO GO GO as we pelted across Auckland to Macleans College for 2 afternoon sessions. Such a respectful and attentive audience and my voice was starting to get a bit husky and worn. Who knew that even I could get tired of the sound of my own voice after 4 hours of talking.

Macleans College

Knackered we dragged ourselves back to the hotel to pass out and recover for day 2 of school visits. Starting at the super fancy St Cuthberts College – what a visual feast that campus is – we had a cosy set up in the library and I chatted with some y9 & 10 students. They had a set up advertising my visit which made me feel pretty spesh.

Baradene College library

We travelled, thankfully with better weather, into town to visit Auckland Girls’ Grammar which was one of my favourite stops on the trip. What a completely gorgeous school & group of girls. I meet with a big crowd in the library, answered a bunch of searching questions, signed some books and posed for photos with the girls. I adored the school leader who thanked me for my visit with a mighty, “All glory to God for your great writing, may he continue to bless your work and grant you success!” AMEN, SISTER! And they presented me with a bouquet of orchids which I wish I had taken a photo because they were beautiful.

Auckland Girls Grammar

We finished the school visits at Hobsonville Pointe Secondary School where I had my mind soundly blown by the most modern and philosophically evolved learning environment/style that I have ever encountered. A nice big group of students met me in the library. There was no teacher to be seen. Cue my surprise. When no teacher appeared, I said, shall we get started then? And the they all nodded and smiled. I shared my story with them and I was so impressed by how engaged and attentive they were. They asked heaps of questions at the end and we ran out of time. So lovely to see so many take books home after signatures and photos. (Here are some of the sweet stragglers hanging back at the end.)

Hobsonville Point College

After a wonderful busy day of talking we slipped back to the Time Out Bookshop for a intimate chat with a few of the YA book club regulars in their loft above the shop. Oh my gosh, what a treasure trove that store is. I’m only sorry I didn’t get to linger longer and snaffle about the shelves.

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Over the next few days I had lunch meetings and enjoyed some of the Booksellers conference and awards evening. I especially enjoyed hanging out with Walker Books Australia sales managers Leonie & Simie, such smart, funny and kind women who love books with all their hearts. (There’s Simie hiding behind a stack of Spark. Heehee.)

Walker books table Walker books table 2

One of the rare treats of my visit was the opportunity to catch up with some writer friends Elena De Roo, Melinda Szymanik and Sue Copsey. I was very pleased to get a couple of my books signed!

Fuzzy Doodle

I came home from the tour having learned a great deal from a truly unique experience, exhausted, happy and profoundly grateful. What a privilege. My heartfelt thanks to my incredible publishers Walker Books Australia for making it all happen and my wonderful publicist Claire Smith for being an administrative genius and for taking such wonderful care of me.

Thanks to the schools, teachers, librarians and students who made room in their busy schedules for my visits, for hosting me so generously and for making me feel so welcome.

Special thanks to John Graham and Paper Plus for their great support and to Sherill Nolan for helping us so cheerfully at each event, providing books to purchase and vouchers for Shield.

 

paperPlus-logo

 

Children’s Choice Awards & Auckland Book Tour

children's choice poster

I am sooooo overdue to post news. Sorry, team. I can’t think back over all the details I’ve missed this year but here are the recent highlights: Stray is a finalist in the Children’s Choice category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. I am completely stoked! You can vote for your favourites by clicking here.

Book Awards Collage

I am so impressed with the advertising, posters, pamphlets and social media attention the #NZCYA’s are getting this year and it’s wonderful to see local bookshops supporting the awards finalists in store. Great display in Whitcoulls Nelson at the moment.

children's choice whitcoulls

The other big excitement this month: Walker Books Australia are taking me to Auckland from June 28th – July 3rd, for six school visits, a public event at Time Out bookstore and a bunch of schmoozy meetings with booksellers. WOWSERS! If you are free Thursday 30th of June, 4-5pm COME AND SEE ME!!! This will be a fun event for YA enthusiasts, writers and aspiring writers.

Time Out Poster

Don’t forget to RSVP!

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Mystery Ink, Book Club Visit

 

lib7How could I fail to feel welcome arriving at Richmond Public Library this afternoon when Rachel Lord, the wonderful Librarian for Young Adult Literature had festooned the library with posters galore advertising this week’s Mystery Ink Teen Book Club session?

There was a great turn out of 18 keen young readers and pizza lovers. Let’s not ask what really drew them in because who can possibly compete with melted cheese? I know my limits. However, there was much fun to be had.

I shared a little bit about Spark and Stray, the writing process and answered a few questions. Then 5 boxes of pizza were destroyed in 60 seconds. Then I had the fun of sharing my latest favourite reads!

 

Mystery Ink write their own reviews to help readers choose library books. This is one of their 6 – Word reviews for Spark. Look at those adjectives! Can I put it on my CV? Rachel told me Spark is very hard to get hold of because it’s always out. Hot diggity!

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Rachel set up our meeting area with more prominently displayed book propaganda, (my favourite kind.) And here’s a pic of the pizza being inhaled.

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While the Mystery Ink team worked themselves into a pizza coma I used the silence as an opportunity to promote some of my latest FAVOURITE reads. I have been devouring Kiwi and Aussie YA lately and it was fun to see several readers take home library copies of these gorgeous books. (Read my reviews of the books pictured below, here.)

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lib 4Afterwards some of the less camera shy participants stopped for a photo and we had fun with some giveaways, including copies of Black Room (a Spark – Short Story), bookmarks and posters. I also gave away a copy of Stray (Congratulations to Lydia!!!)

There was lots of chat, laughter, signing of things and then it was all over and time to go home. My thanks to Mystery Ink for hosting me and to lovely Rachel Lord for all her preparation and making me so welcome.

 

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NZ Book Week & NZ Bookshop Day

Oh boy I’ve been so slack updating my news page lately, mostly because I am in the thick of rewriting Shield, book 3 of the Spark trilogy. But I’m here now and it’s been a busy time with a Teen Book Club visit, NZ Book Week AND NZ Bookshop Day shenanigans! All three of these events involved my favourite local indie bookstore Page & Blackmore.

So, at the end of the November I met with the Page & Blackmore Teen Book Club at Café Affair to talk about Spark and Stray and the writing process. What a completely delightful group of young women. Lots of great questions and laughter.

P&B teen bk club 2

P&B teen bk club

In October I began stocking up on new Junior and YA NZ Fiction to read, read, read in preparation for NZ Book Week! Look at these gorgeous covers. You can read 4 of my review here: of Sue Copsey’s The Ghosts of Tarawera, Phillip W Simpson’s Minotaur, Ella West’s Night Vision and Mandy Hager’s Singing Home the Whale. It was wonderful to dedicate this reading time to NZ novels and each of these books

NZ books

The grand finale of NZ Book Week was NZ Bookshop Day on October 31st! I spent the afternoon at Page and Blackmore, serving cake and tea for the Great Man Booker Debate/Wrestle. P&B ran special events all day and even went out on the street giving away free books! We graffiti-ed the shop windows with the names and titles of our favourite authors and books. There was a lot of book chat and laughter. I loved it.

me at P&B

Here I am subverting the genre in the Continuous Short Story!

 

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I took the Short Story to a dark place 😉

 

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The book people wrestle! Civilised wrestling … okay, debating over cake and tea.

 

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Book nerd graffiti!

 

Bookshop day 2

I swear, I didn’t write my own name! That was Stella! 😉

 

Bookshop day

And look at this lovely memento, my very own #NZBookshopDay bag!

 

Stray Book Launch, Nelson

Tuesday, September 8th, one week after the Christchurch book launch we celebrated the release of Stray at my favourite bookshop, Page & Blackmore. I fell in love with P&B the first time I visited the store soon after moving to Nelson and have been a regular ever since. Stella and the team are the best kind of independent booksellers, friendly, knowledgeable and mad keen on books! They have been tremendous supporters of my work and created a beautiful window display for Spark, last year, and again this month for Stray.

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They fancied up their counter with fairy lights and had copies of my short story Black Room and free bookmarks and posters for guests. There were yummy nibbles and wine and a lovely turn out of locals to celebrate the launch of Stray.

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Stella spoke about Stray, (very generously) and how it expands on the world of the story established in Spark and I shared a little bit about the writing process and what I’ve learned in the last year of being a published author.

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Then we had some time for book signing! I whipped out my fancy metallic pens with their matchy/matchy colours to go with the cover red and blue.

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Then I had a lovely time chatting with friends and friendly strangers. It was particularly lovely to meet some of the local #SparkArmy

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Some local #Spark Army gals

 

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Lovely Nelsonian friends

 

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Two of my favourite Write Club buddies, local authors Fiona Summerfield and Katrina Robinson.

 

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A gorgeous contingent of supporters from my church.

 

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Lovely to see Mary Butler, tremendous youth literature supporter from the Motueka Library.

 

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A cuddle with Stella.

Stray Book Launch, Christchurch

A half dozen of my wildly talented and generous friends descended on the Original Children’s Bookshop on Blenheim Rd, last night, and frightened the poor shop ladies half to death by transforming the bright and cheerful store into a shadowy, blood red denizen for Spark-enthusiasts to gather for the launch of book 2 in the trilogy, Stray.

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Almost 100 friends, family and strangers arrived, and plenty of them early, to snap up a copy of Stray and with it a free poster and bookmark. There was wine to drink and, thanks to even more wonderful friends, trays of yummy finger food to devour.

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I was particularly thrilled to meet eager members of the Spark Army including Tessa and her friends from Selwyn House school, Hannah and Abbie from Hagley College, several others from local high schools, Sophie and her Uni friends and so many teens of my friends and family who I have had the pleasure of chatting with on social media throughout the year (Hamish, Holly, Jake).

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Hannah and Abbie, particularly enthusiastic Spark Army Generals, even made me gorgeous cards and gifts of raspberry liquorice (my favourite!) So much fun to finally meet them.

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Once the shop was stuffed with guests I stood on a chair to greet everyone and handed over to Zac McCallum, the rather brilliant Children and Young Adults librarian, from the Christchurch public library. Zac gave a marvellous speech talking about both Spark and Stray during which avid fangirls squealed whenever Jamie’s named was mentioned:

launchL“Rachael had me hanging on for dear life on this roller-coaster ride.  The action is almost non-stop, with Rachael giving you the chance to catch your breath briefly (with a touch of comedic relief), before racing ahead again. Spark was full of plenty of heart-stopping moments but Stray takes it up a notch.  There were times when I couldn’t take the suspense.” 

He had everyone in stitches with his comments about Jamie and Evie:

“While a lot of Rachael’s readers are swooning over Jamie, I myself have a crush on Evie.  Evie is quite simply HOT!  I’m sure Rachael puts Evie in a Lara Croft costume just for her male readers.” 

You’ll have to read Stray to find out what he’s talking about. After Zac’s speech I read an excerpt from the new book and took the opportunity to thank those who had a hand in making the night happen, especially my dear friends Tracey George and Deb Platt for co-ordinating the pretty! I then took to the signing table and made my wrist and fingers earn their keep scrawling my name for a good hour or so with stops for hugs and photos. Needless to say, I had a great night and I’m so grateful for everyone who took the time to come and support me! Thank you, everybody!!!

Here are some more snaps from the evening:

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launch cuzziesFriends and whanau

 

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launchSSpark Army sweetie, Leslie.

 

launchTMore friends!

 

launchRLittle helpers at the signing table.

Stray signing table1 Trying not to spell my own name wrong.

 

Stray signing table2 Using my fancy matching metallic pens

 

launchNShort friends.

 

launchOTall friends in stripes.

 

A very special thank you to the Original Children’s Bookshop for hosting us so graciously and for making the evening possible.

Stray Blog Tour 1st-7th September

I am so excited for this blog tour and deeply grateful for the support of these brilliant bloggers! Each day you can look forward to insightful reviews of Stray, Q & A’s, and guest posts from me about all kinds of wonders and GIFs, GIFs, GIFs! Please join us for a week of wordly fun times!

Stray Blog Tour

September 1
Happy Indulgence | Diva Book Nerd
September 2
Behind the Pages | Cassie the Weird | YA Midnight Reads
September 3
Liz McShane Blog | Imaginary Misadventure
September 4
Fictional Thoughts | Genie in a Book
September 5
Kids Book Review | Books for a Delicate Eternity | Nicole Has Read
September 6
Loony Literate | Book Nerd Reviews
September 7
Striking Keys | Very Dark Horse

@RachaelCraw | RachaelCraw.com

Spark makes the Silver Inky Awards Shortlist!

STOP. THE. BUS. people! The most amazing thing has happened. Yesterday the shortlist for the Gold and Silver Inky Awards were announced at the Melbourne Writers Festival and by some miraculous turn of events my wee Spark has made the cut! And you can vote here!

Silver Inky Award Yellow Banner

The Inky Awards are presented by State Library Victoria, Centre for Youth Literature, Australia. The Gold Inky is for Australian YA fiction and the Silver Inky is for International YA fiction. These awards celebrate the best new YA fiction as voted for by teen readers. The longlist was very impressive and I was gobsmacked to make that! Imagine my astonishment to hear that Spark made it onto the shortlist! And what an incredible list!

Silver Inky shortlist

Wonderful Melissa Keil, Gold Inky shortlister was at the announcement and took this fabulous picture of Spark on the big screen:

Silver Inky Spark announcement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent the rest of my afternoon doing this:

Becky fangirl

adventure time amazing

6. flailing excitement

So, if you are 12-20 years old please vote! You have until 27th September 2015. I would so appreciate your support! #SparkArmy!

Also if you would like to read my interview with Inky Award Judge, Jamiee, click here.

STRAY: Book Launch! Christchurch and Nelson Events

EEP! It’s come around fast, BOOK LAUNCH time! I am doing 2 events, one in Christchurch on release day September 1st and one in Nelson a week later September 8th. I am really looking forward to going down to Christchurch and seeing our family and friends. If you are in Christchurch please come and join me for a fun evening, I’d love to see you there!

CHRISTCHURCH EVENT: will be held at the Original Children’s Bookshop and the brilliant Zac McCallum from the Christchurch Library will be there to help me launch Stray! Check out his blog post about the event here.

Stray - Invite CHCH

NELSON EVENT: will be held at my favourite bookstore Page & Blackmore, do come and join the fun!

Stray - Invite NELSON

New Zealand Book Awards Children and Young Adults

It was a fast and furious trip to Wellington on August 12th for the New Zealand Book Awards Children and Young Adult. My fabulous publisher put me up in a gorgeous hotel with a gorgeous view! But there was no time for basking as there were shops to explore and not a lot of time! So I was off out the door and hoofing it up and down the streets with my eyes open for a bargain … or anything, really.

Fancy hotel

Fancy view from hotel

I made it back to the hotel for a quick change and slap on the lippy and downstairs to meet my publisher, my editor and a very handsome and impressive collection of Walker Books authors including the esteemed Brian Faulkner. I was particularly excited to meet my editor Mary whom I have only communicated with via phone and email. It was also lovely to see Angela Van Den Belt, head of publishing and the very best person to sit next to at any gathering for scintillating conversation.

Editor Mary

We jumped in cabs and drove to Government House which was pretty amazing. The historic building is simply stunning – grand and elegant.

Posh Government House   Fancy waiting room

I wished I could have had a tour to take it all in. The authors were shepherded off to a room where we milled and chatted while a photographer took individual snaps of the finalists with their books then we were in for the awards. It was a delightfully fancy affair in the great hall beneath the glittering chandelier and the Governor General himself present to convene.

Chandelier

While there was no luck for Spark in the Children’s Choice category for YA it was a delightful evening seeing people collect their awards and to be apart of celebrating brilliant NZ writing. Some of the speeches were very moving bringing the audience to laughter and tears. It was a particular highlight for me to see Paula Green win the Childrens Choice Award for Non-Fiction with her gorgeous book of poetry The Letterbox Cat. My children love Paula’s poems.

Natalie King  Suzzane Main  Angela Publisher

 

After the ceremony it was time for wine and nibbles and mingling. I had such a fun time meeting several authors I had only ever chatted with online including the truly charming Natalie King and Suzanne Main. Then the Walker Books authors snuck away for a sumptuous meal at the General Practitioner where I stuffed myself full and laughed myself silly sitting between my publisher and editor with the charming Brian Faulkner sitting across the table.

I was exhausted but happy by the time I made it back to the hotel, enjoyed a lovely soak in the tub and fell into bed.

The next morning it was breakfast with my editor Mary which had to be relocated to a café down the street as we ended up talking for almost 4 hours, discussing the first draft of book 3, Shield. Very exciting. Then with an hour to spare before catching the plane we dashed across the road to Te Papa to explore the Gallipolo Exhibit which was profoundly moving. I wish we could have stayed longer. The sculptures were huge and so real it was staggering.

Gallipoli 1 Gallipoli 2 Gallipoli 3

I was back on the plane by 2pm and back home in time for kids to come home from school and to be brought back to reality by dinner and laundry. No complaints. And now my lovely finalists award is gleaming in its frame on the wall.

Award in frame