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My three top tips for aspiring writers

A primary school student contacted me recently and said they want to be an author when they grow up; they asked if I had any tips. I boiled it all down to three things: read, write, and have fun. This may sound super simplistic, but I think these are ultimately the basics you need to have.
Note to aspiring illustrators: these tips apply to you too! Just replace the word ‘write’ with ‘draw’, and ‘author’ with ‘illustrator’. 

1. READ.

Read lots of things. Read lots of different types of things. Even read things that you think you might not like (and even read things that you know you don’t like). The more you read, the more you learn about what kind of stories you like, but also about how stories work. And if you’re reading a story that you don’t like, ask yourself – why isn’t this working for me? What would I change to make this story better?

2. WRITE.

Write a little bit each week, just for fun, just for you. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Try writing things out by hand. Try writing things on a computer. Try writing different types of things. The more you write, the more you learn about WHAT you like to write, and HOW you like to write. You don’t have to wait until you grow up to be an author; you don’t have to wait until you are published to ‘be’ an author; if you write stories then you are an author.

3. HAVE FUN.

If this is your main aim then you can never really fail, and you won’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure in the creative process. But if your main aim is to sell a squllion books and get super rich and famous, then you’ll probably get disappointed! Also, if you’re having fun then it’s easier to persist and persist and persist until the work is done (because writing takes a loooooong time).
So that’s it – my three top tips for aspiring writers! If you’d like to read some more detailed advice, check out some of my earlier posts:

Upcoming Events, Dec 2019 / Jan 2020

Dec 8: Backyard Book Fair (for families)

Be entertained. Write. Draw and create!
Meet Western Australian children’s authors and illustrators and have your favourite book signed.
Entry is $20 per family (of up to six). Hand in your ticket at the book sales table on the day for $20 credit toward the book(s) of your choice.•• You only need to book ONE FAMILY TICKET per family/group of up to six people ••

•• Receive ONE $20 credit voucher toward book(s) per family/group booking only ••

WHEN: Sunday 8 December 2019
TIMES: 10am – 12:45pm
WHERE: State Library of WA, Francis St, Perth
COST: $20 per family (up to six people) – and each family group receives one $20 credit voucher to spend on books on the day.
BOOKINGS: Essential. Click here to reserve your place.

 


Jan 31:  Joondalup Libraries Summer Reading Challenge closing party (for kids)

The City of Joondalup Libraries are holding a Summer Reading Challenge from Sunday 1 December 2019 to Friday 31 January 2020. Are you up for the challenge?

  • Kindergarten to year three students – aim to read for 10 hours on your own or with your family
  • Year four to year six students – aim to read for 15 hours

Pick up a reading log from your nearest City of Joondalup library, or download it here – Summer reading challenge A5 Booklet.

Participation in the challenge is free. All kids who complete the challenge get invited to the closing party with me, your friendly neighbourhood children’s author/illustrator.

DETAILS: to be advised
ENTRY: By invitation only – to all kids who complete a reading log for the Summer Reading Challenge. More info here.


New book out now (and more on the way)

Hello readers!

James here, finding a quiet moment while the toddler is asleep to update my blog. And there’s lots of news to share …

FUNNY BONES out now

Funny Bones came out just this week. It’s a whopping 700-page kids’ anthology from the funniest Australian authors and illustrators, with all royalties going to the charity War Child Australia.

I’ve got a couple of pages of comics in there, but you’ll also find Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, Garth Nix, Jacqueline Harvey, Richard Roxburgh, Sally Rippin, Tristan Banks, Gus Gordon … you name them, they’re probably featured in here. It’s a brilliant book for a brilliant cause, and would make an absolutely brilliant Christmas present.

Grab your copy of Funny Bones here:
Allen & Unwin
Dymocks
Booktopia (Aus/NZ only)

… or ask your local indie bookshop for a copy.


TOFFLE TOWERS 2 out in January

The next installment in the adventures of young hotel manager Chegwin Toffle will land in bookstores in January 2020. Words by the incomparable Tim Harris; illustrations by me.

This time around, Chegwin’s hotel staff are ‘reverse mugged’ by two mysterious men. Chaos ensues and it’s Chegwin’s job to get to the bottom of these attacks before Toffle Towers loses all its hard-earned guests. Meanwhile, the town of Alandale is preparing for the annual Great River Race. Once Chegwin discovers his saboteur is none other than Brontessa Braxton, owner of the rival hotel in town, Chegwin find himself preparing to go head to head with her in the Great River Race to save his beloved staff and Toffle Towers.You can pre-order Toffle Towers book 2 here:
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)
QBD (Australia only)
Dymocks
Readings

… or ask your local indie bookshop to order it in for you.


More books coming in 2020/21

Look out for these projects coming next (I’m excited!):

Chickensaurus (Sally Tinker book 4)
Toffle Towers Book 3
– the follow-up picture book to cult favourite My Dead Bunny (more details on that soon)
Stellarphant, a new picture book written and illustrated by me

That’s all the new book news for now! Thanks for reading.

– James

Events for Oct/Nov 2019


Oct 7, 9, 11: Crazy Character design workshops (for kids)

Join me for a character design workshop where I’ll guide you through the process of drawing your own unique character!
Learn how simple tricks including shape, colour choice, setting and detail can make your characters come to life.
These workshops are part of the Awesome Arts Festival for Bright Young Things.

Continue reading “Events for Oct/Nov 2019”

Brobot in The West newspaper, term 3

Brobot book cover

Sally Tinker and Brobot are coming to the West Australian newspaper’s ED! liftout every week in term 3.

It was a big challenge to reformat the story – I had to edit it down, rearrange the panels to fit the newspaper’s dimensions, AND divide it into 10 episodes.

Your school can get in on the action with an ED! section subscription: full details here.

Win a school visit from me!

Visiting-Author---James-Foley---19-Aug-2015-(18)Attention teachers! Fremantle Press is giving one lucky Perth metro school a free author visit from me.

To win the visit, all you need to do is check out the latest edition of Fremantle Press’ education newsletter, Classroom Express, here – then click on the ‘Forward to a Friend’ button at the top right and send it to your colleagues. The school with the most teachers subscribed to Classroom Express by 30 June 2019 will win the author visit!

But wait – there’s a second prize up for grabs! If you also happen to be a subscriber to the Classroom Express newsletter (you can subscribe here), AND you get the most friends signed up using the ‘Forward to a Friend’ button, then you’ll win 10 Fremantle Press books for your school library valued at $200.

So pass it on! And tell your colleagues, friends, parents and more about the competitions, teaching resources, activities and merchandise that they can get from The Classroom Express.

Both competitions close on Sunday 30 June 2019. The winner for each competition will be notified by email after this date. The winners will be announced in the Term 3 issue of The Classroom Express.

Toffle Towers 1: Fully Booked – cover reveal!

Great news!

I’m illustrating a new chapter book series written by the very talented Tim Harris.

The series is called TOFFLE TOWERS, and the first book is out August 6th.

Here’s the cover …

… and here’s the official synopsis:

Toffle Towers hotel has been run by a Toffle for over one hundred years – and it’s about to be inherited by the next generation.

Chegwin Toffle is only ten years old. But he isn’t going to let that stop him from turning this run-down hotel into a success. Chegwin is determined to transform Toffle Towers from a boring hotel for grown-ups into an incredibly exciting destination for children (and their families).

But running a hotel isn’t easy. Chegwin has a lot to learn, and his tendency to drift off into daydreams isn’t helping.

Chegwin has plenty of ideas. But can he turn his madcap daydreams into reality?

Toffle Towers 1: Fully Booked is published by Penguin Books Australia, and available in all good bookshops from August 6th, 2019!

PRE-ORDER your copy now:
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Kinokuniya (Australia only)
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)
QBD (Australia only)
Dymocks
Readings
Or find your local bookseller

Upcoming events (Feb 2019)

Hello you! I hope your 2019 has been treating you kindly so far. What did you get up to? I spent most of January soaking up time with my wife and son and labrador. We paddled in the river, read books, watched more than a little netflix and had bbqs. I also got to work on some new sketches and picture book ideas that I’m excited about. It’s been great to spend quiet time relaxing and ‘refilling the well’ so that I’ve got the energy for the year ahead.

I’ve got a few great events coming up at the end of this month – the Perth Writers’ Week family day and a teacher/librarian PD in Sydney. See below for details. Hope to see you down the track!

Happy reading/creating/living,

James 🙂

Continue reading “Upcoming events (Feb 2019)”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 4: final cover illustration

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I illustrated the front cover.

Step 1: cover design

Here’s my final rough:

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 4: final cover illustration”

Events for Nov/Dec

To get email notifications of future events, you can either:
– subscribe to new posts via the little box on the right.
– sign up for my newsletter, The James Foley-o, and get all my news and events in a quarterly email.


Nov 22:  Picture Book Illustration (for adults)

Have you ever wanted to illustrate a children’s book? Join me to find out how. Learn how character design, composition, choice of medium and typography all affect the visual story, and have a go yourself.

Bring your favourite drawing materials and a notepad or sketchbook.

WHEN: Thursday Nov 22nd
TIMES: 6:00pm-7:30pm
WHERE: Victoria Park Library, 27 Sussex Street, East Victoria Park, WA 6101
AGES: 8-12yo
COST: $3 per person
BOOKINGS: essential. Click here to book online, or call the library on 9373 5500.

 


Continue reading “Events for Nov/Dec”