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Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Hello everyone!

It's been a busy few months at Turner Books. Here are ten things we've been up to lately, and a hint at what's to come!

My sister, Azalia, has created a weekly group for homeschoolers of all ages. It's called Creativity Club. Azalia plans all the activities, and we run the sessions together.

Creativity Club takes place every Friday, at a lovely place called The Little Aussie Café. Jo and Al (the awesome owners of the cafe) let us use one of their themed party rooms to run the club, while the chauffeurs (or, as they're more commonly known, parents) enjoy delicious food and drink in the main café area.

We've run 15 Creativity Club sessions so far, and some of the things we've done include drama, crafts, card making, special effects makeup, book writing, music, and more. It is a lot of fun.

Mandurian Stories is the name of a full-colour anthology that I am putting together to publish next year. It will be filled with artworks, photographs, poems, stories, essays, interviews, (and whatever else you can think of) written by, for, and about Mandurah. Submissions have already started coming in, which is so exciting!

I want to give a HUGE thanks to Shape Mandurah for their amazing encouragement, kind support, and generous funding.

If you would like to learn more, or want to contribute to Mandurian Stories, click here to read my more in-depth explanation.

One More Page Podcast

One More Page is a podcast for people who love childrens' books and humour. The show's hosts (Nat Amoore, Liz Ledden, and Kate Simpson) interview childrens' book writers and illustrators, review books, and tell jokes.

One More Page is a great podcast, because it's one the whole family can enjoy. My family loves listening to One More Page together at the dinner table, when we are cleaning, or even just whilst relaxing together on the couch. It's informative and fun for all age groups.

I was interviewed by Nat Amoore for their Kids Capers segment. Nat is friendly and has a great sense of humour. We talked about Turner Books, the Zany Circus series, Augustus Brown, Mandurian Stories, homeschooling, and wearing pillow fluff beards.

I loved getting to chat with Nat. I really like the podcast, so talking with her and learning that she likes a lot of the same things I do (drawing, circus, books, etc) was awesome. I will be writing a blog post about Nat at some point, when my to-do list looks less like the infinite scroll of a workaholic wizard. The post won't be too far off though, because Nat Amoore is awesome, and I feel like it will be a fun post to write.

I've been doing art lessons with RT Kids for about six years now, and we've just had our end-of-year art exhibition at Mandurah Library. The exhibition was themed on Salvador Dali, who we've been learning about.

RT Kids is run by our amazing art teacher, Cindy Wright. Cindy is an amazing person who has helped so many children improve and learn more about art.

RT Kids has been an important part of my life that has helped me grow as both an artist and a person, and it's where I met two of my best friends. Here are some pictures of me wearing my beautiful moustache (courtesy of Salvador Dali) for your enjoyment.

Last weekend was my first time participating as a stall holder in a Tiny Shops on Wheels event. Tiny Shops on Wheels is exactly what it sounds like, and it is awesome. I am really thankful to TSOW team for inviting me.

Everyone there was kind and helpful to each other. They helped me feel welcome, and the atmosphere was amazing. I enjoyed being able to play my guitar and sing to the people walking passed, and I loved having my small stall of books and crafts for people to peruse.

One of the highlights for me was getting my face painted to look like a metallic dragon. Jasmine (Little Fairy Face Painting) is such an amazing face painter, and a wonderful person. That dragon was honestly the best face painting I've ever had, and I will hopefully be getting it again when I return for another Tiny Shops on Wheels pop-up market at Make Place on Saturday!

Another thing I enjoyed was a headband-making workshop that was run by Denise. My sister and I both went to it, and we left with two awesome headbands.

If you would like to learn more about Tiny Shops on Wheels, click here.

Mandurah Readers and Writers Festival

We went to the Mandurah Readers and Writers Festival, where we were able to listen to many interesting author talks and discussions. Louise Allan, Carrie Cox, Dervla McTiernan, and Laurie Steed were some (but not all) of the speakers. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre (and the wonderful staff of Mandurah Libraries) ended the festival with a massive Pyjama Party, which was my little brother's favourite part of the festival.

I especially loved the talk given by Michelle Johnston about her book, Dustfall. It was very interesting to hear how her experiences as a doctor shaped her experiences as a writer.

We all really enjoyed attending the event, and by the end of the festival, our books were signed, our minds were full, and our hearts were happy.

Now, for those of you who don't know, Rahcon is Mandurah's largest pop culture convention. They have a huge cosplay contest, panels, screenings, raffles, people selling things like fan art, plushies, pop vinyls, and other assorted merchandise, guest speakers, and more.

I saw many amazing cosplayers, several of which were recognisable as characters from shows, games, and movies that my family and I enjoy. We (my brother, my sister, and myself) went in costume as well. We were all characters from a show called Steven Universe. I was Lapis Lazuli, Azalia was Peridot, and Zaedyn was Ruby.

We entered the Cosplay competition as a group, and ended up winning the Encouragement Award, which was... well, very encouraging!

We also won a raffle for a box of books from Twelfth Planet Press, and (as you can probably guess) we were ecstatic to have more books to read!

We are all looking forward to attending Rahcon again next year.

The Great Moscow Circus came to Mandurah a while ago. As you can probably tell by the books we publish, we love the circus! So, of course, we went. We had an awesome night watching the show. The acts were incredible!

In true Tobelia-style, my sister Azalia loved the silks and trapeze. Zaedyn couldn't pick a favourite act (he liked them all), but he particularly loved the pony rides before the show began.

My favourite part of the Moscow Circus was Walison Muh, the clown. He interacted with the audience amazingly, and he was very entertaining with his improvisation and miming skills.

I would honestly be interested in watching The Great Moscow Circus again just to see his acts.

The international launch of Ben Elton's Three Summers was held in Mandurah recently.

My siblings and I performed some music at the event, along with my friend Hannah, a boy named Kayden, and a local musician named Brooke Bugeja. We helped raise money for the Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health (FISH). After performing for a few hours, we walked the red carpet and attended the screening, which included talks, a Q and A, an interview with some of the actors, and an indigenous dance performance.

Three Summers Charity Launch

Three Summers was filmed locally in Pinjarra, with several of the extras being people I know. It's awesome seeing a movie that took place in our local area.

It was a very humorous movie, and I feel like quite a few people could find it relatable.

Recently, my sister Azalia was in her first large stage production, Tarzan The Musical, directed by Karen Francis. Our family went to see the performance, and it was amazing. I am so proud of Azalia for her effort, her dedication, and for all the new skills she learned along the way. I hope she auditions for more plays in the future.

I asked Azalia how she felt about her experience, and she said, "Being in a musical is rewarding. Not because it is easy, but because is it intense. I loved opening night, because it felt like everything the cast had learned during the months of rehearsals had finally come together, in a satisfying package, wrapped neatly with a red ribbon."

I know exactly what Azalia meant (and how much work goes into these stage productions), because I was in Karen Francis's previous show, Shrek The Musical. I met many people during the rehearsals for Shrek, and made many new friends. The vibe you get from people in that sort of environment is inspiring, and on the days of the final performances everyone is buzzing with energy.

If any of you have dreams of performing in the theatre, or are just curious about the experience, then I seriously recommend auditioning for something. It requires hard work and commitment, but the emotional rewards at the end of it make it all worthwhile.

We have a lot of projects to keep us busy over the holidays. I will continue drawing, volunteering at the zoo, working on my books, spreading the word about Mandurian Stories, attending art classes, listening to cool podcasts, writing blogposts, and waiting to hear back about an arts scholarship I applied for. Azalia will be busy working on her wearable art, writing mysterious words, and planning activities for Creativity Club. Zaedyn will most likely be making movies, games, and hilarious jokes, as usual.

Whatever you're doing over the holidays, I hope you feel fulfilled, happy, productive, and loved.

Remember to be kind to those you care about, and compassionate to those you don't.

Have a happy holiday!

By Xanthe Turner

Xanthe Turner loves drawing so much, she has developed callouses on her drawing hand, and is rarely seen without a sketchbook. Her natural habitat is a novel-filled bedroom.

In addition to illustrating (and publishing) books, Xanthe enjoys creating comics, fan art, sculptures, cosplay, and paintings. Xanthe plays guitar and piano (not at the same time) and her life goal is to befriend a sentient robot.

Xanthe and Azalia

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