Hi there and a happy half-term to you all!
I’m delighted to inform you that I received an international literary award in Las Vegas on Friday October the 14th! My 4th ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s book, titled ‘Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party’, won the Chapter Book category in the sixth annual international Children’s Literary Classics Book Awards!
My husband and I flew out to Las Vegas to attend the winning authors’ round table dinner on Thursday October the 13th, the official black tie awards ceremony on Friday October the 14th and then the Vegas Valley Book Festival yesterday (Oct 15th) . My ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s series and I had our own stand at this highly prestigious book festival in Las Vegas for ‘Whimsy Wood’ book signings and readings.
This is the biggest business trip so far that my woodland children’s books and I have been on. I first discovered that my 4th ‘Whimsy Wood’ book, ‘Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party’, had won the Chapter Book category in the Literary Classics Book Awards back in July. I must admit I was in a state of disbelief, shock and euphoria for a fair few weeks following that winning confirmation email! I had to keep re-reading the email and double-checking my inbox to ensure I hadn’t dreamt it!
On the run-up to the awards ceremony and the Vegas Valley Book Festival, I felt incredibly excited and nervous. I was a jittery jumble of emotions! I hasten to add that I don’t like flying, so the prospect of a 10 hour flight from England to Las Vegas, only added to the sweaty-palmed, heart-racing physical expression of my own emotions!
Receiving the winning award for the Chapter Book category out in Las Vegas was just out of this world! I have never attended any sort of red carpet event in my life, nor have I been part of such a huge literary festival. The Vegas Valley Book Festival took place the day after the Literary Classics awards ceremony and had over 10,000 people attending! I felt incredibly privileged to be part of the Literary Classics Book Awards and the Vegas Valley Book Festival. Experiences that will remain engraved in my memory forever.
My husband and I celebrated Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party’s win at the party thrown by Literary Classics, after the awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Friday October the 15th! We also took advantage of being in Las Vegas and celebrated further by seeing Cirque Du Soleil’s ‘O’ at The Bellagio. This has to be the most amazing show I have ever seen. Phenomenal. Jaw-dropping. Mind-blowing!
The success of my ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s series would not of course be possible without Abela Publishing, our editor Sarah O’Gorman, social media mogul Sarah Varley and our incredible illustrator Sarah Mauchline. These 3 Sarahs plus myself, make up ‘Team Sarah’ within the ‘Whimsy Wood’ team!
Sarah Mauchline was one of Abela Publishing’s illustrators when I was first taken on by this publishing house back in January 2013. She has a medical background, like myself (she was a nurse and I am a Vet) as well as a background in graphic design. We also both have 3 young children and I think these similarities are some of the many reasons why we have such a wonderful working relationship and indeed friendship.
Each ‘Whimsy Wood’ manuscript has to be broken down into 15 illustrations plus a front cover illustration. I then need to work out what illustrations I need for that particular book and give Sarah as detailed a description for those illustrations that I can. Within 2 or 3 sketches tops, she’s drawn exactly what I had imagined in my head! Now that to me is phenomenal! Added to that, the crazy fact that we have never met in person! Sarah lives up in Aberdeen while I am in Wiltshire, so all our correspondence is via email or Facebook messenger. I think I can safely say that we are very fortunate to have such a connection and I feel honoured to be working with such a talented lady.
To give you a bit of background regarding my stories, there are 35 books in my ‘Whimsy Wood’ series for 5-8 year olds and these are divided into 5 sets each containing 7 books. Please note that not all 35 of my ‘Whimsy Wood’ books are available yet. This is because book 1, ‘Posie Pixie And The Copper Kettle’, was published back in July 2013 and the publisher of my Whimsy Wood series (Abela Publishing), wishes to release 3 titles from my series each year. Book 9, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar’, was launched on July the 2nd and book 10, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Landing Lesson’, is due to be released on November the 26th.
Each woodland story is written for a specific month in the calendar, so the flora and fauna within Whimsy Wood change as you read through the series. One of the subtle aims of my series is to help children become more aware of the wonderful nature that we have all around us. There is also an incomplete map of Whimsy Wood at the back of every book. The map is incomplete, because we wanted children to use their imagination to fill in the map, along with what they have learned from the story that they’ve just read.
I’m very fortunate to be able to say that my series is ‘award-winning’. This is because the 1st 5 books were all awarded the U.S. Readers’ Favourite 5-star seal. Books 6 and 7 (‘Posie Pixie And The Snowstorm’ and ‘Posie Pixie And The Pancakes’) were tied winners in The Royal Dragonfly Book Awards and book 4, ‘Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party’, won the Chapter Book category in the Literary Classics Book Awards on Friday night.
Well that’s all from me for this week. I shall bid you farewell and wish you all a wonderfully whimsical weekend,
Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series,