Le Grand Tour De Book

le grand tour de book too busy sleeping

It has been a BIIIIIIIG time for the little sunshine family. For the last month and a half, we’ve been travelling here, there and everywhere, visiting bookshops and libraries and schools, promoting Too Busy Sleeping, my very first book.

When I first knew the book was being published, my husband Gregor and I started chatting about how we’d get it out there.  I talked to the publicity team at Hardie Grant Egmont, and it seemed that one way to promote picture books was to visit bookshops.

We imagined hitting the road for six months as a family, visiting bookstores and running storytelling & imagination workshops. A little sunshine gypsy family.

As the actual release date drew nearer, though, six months on the road seemed impractical, impossible and expensive. We have two small children – did I mention that? But hey, we are dreamers. And all dreams have to start somewhere.

The Hardie Grant Egmont team sent me a list of possible bookshops we could visit. I started ringing around and scratching out some dates. It seemed like ten days in Melbourne, a week in Sydney and a few days in Brisbane would be a good idea. I drew a little map, and with my calendar and a phone, started to sketch out our journey.

I spent about ten to fifteen hours a week for well over a month calling, emailing, following up bookshops, publicity people, media, bloggers and writing articles.

This was the result:

too busy sleeping schedule

and this wonderful collection of reviews of the book.

And yes – I am a little crazy.

But, it has all been worth it. I’ve met so many lovely little people, bookshop owners and librarians. We’ve reconnected with so many old and new friends. {My daughter has fallen in love with various babies around the country. She’s even proposed to a few. And has invited the rest to her birthday party in January.} I’ve read so many beautiful words about my book, and so far, I get the impression people love it. And that makes my little heart feel very, very good.

If you’ve been following along with #LeGrandTourDeBook on Facebook or Instagram, you may have shared in all this excitement and positivity. Like all things, though, nothing is as entirely it seems.

Like I said it has been a BIIIIIG time for the sunshine family, in more ways than one.

We knew this time would be big and a little crazy for us. But we’ve been looking forward to it, and talking about it for months and months and months, and saving and planning and scheming. It was going to be our holiday for the year. Well – I was planning to work on the road in between it all – but you know, sort of-holiday, travel, adventure.

And it was an adventure…

But it was also hectic and wonderful getting a surprise invitation to fly to Sydney the weekend before #LeGrandTourDeBook for my brother’s wedding.

It was also amazing to be surrounded by a hundred people to celebrate the launch of Too Busy Sleeping in Melbourne shortly after. And meeting Anna Pignataro for the first time… she’s a special lady.

It was so moving to hear the MD at Hardie Grant Egmont, Natasha Besliev talk about how she’d found my blog some years ago, and had been touched by my words.

And it was tough going, getting that awful winter flu we’d avoided all winter three days later. Great.

It was awful and tragic and heartbreaking, receiving the call at a dumpling restaurant that my beautiful cousin Rohan had died. He’s my age, and although we haven’t seen each other much more than at Christmas for the last ten years, I loved him very much and thought of him often. We shared a childhood after all.

It was stressful, being shipwrecked at the Melbourne Airport one Friday morning, sick, exhausted and grief-stricken. And finding out my daughter couldn’t fly because of an ear infection. Then searching on Air BnB only to realise nothing was available because of some football game.

It was relief when I called my new sister-in-law, who sent us to her family home in Mornington Peninsula.

It was more than I have ever cried, and one of the saddest days of my life, sharing our grief with my cousin’s family at his funeral.

It was extreme gratitude we could be there.

It was hard and long driving down towards Sydney with two small children, a cough on my chest, and a weight in my heart. Driving the same road my cousin had driven only a couple of weeks before.

It was comfort and coziness, staying with an old school friend, reconnecting and rekindling a friendship.

It was a big sigh, as we reached Sydney, and unpacked our bags.

It was one of the most productive, and exciting mornings of my ‘career’ making hand-bound books with Anna and thirteen engaged and beautiful kids. And then heartbreaking to learn a couple of parents were dissatisfied with the take-home product. Too small. Unfinished. Spelling errors. Sigh.

It was heartwarming to walk into a preschool in Sydney to be greeted by twenty small people, handing me artworks they’d made for ‘the author’. And then reading the story, which they had clearly heard before, as they recited it with me, word for word.

It was too good to be true, driving into Mosman on one of our only mornings off as a family, finding a free carpark right near the zoo, enjoying perfect weather and giraffes, and then sailing into an easy cheap inner city park right near the bookstore.

It clearly was too good to be true, when my youngest woke herself from sleeping on my husband’s back with a cough, just as my event was about to begin, and spewed all over him and the bookstore floor.

It was exciting and warm and fuzzy and inspiring reading our book with Anna at The Writers’ In The Park, meeting Pamela Allen, Sarah Davis and the likes, and meeting two first time authors and special new friends, Edwina Wyatt and Lucy Estela, who I am sharing this special journey with.

It was a relief to finally feel a bit better as we drove to Newcastle.

It was fun catching up with old and new friends in a Newcastle park for a decadent picnic.

It was touch-and-go driving towards Inverell late afternoon, ringing hotels with one bar of reception, to find out nothing in town was available because of – again – a football thing. My book tour and football did not get along!

It was touch-and-go again as we drove into Uralla with two tired kids, and luckily found the last available family room for the night.

It was … something else, to reconnect with my hometown Inverell, and fill a bookshop with kids and parents all grateful for a holiday distraction.

It was beyond heartwarming when a three-year-old bust into tears because I finished reading. She desperately wanted me to read it again.

It was a long drive home. But a good one.

It was excellent chatting with Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily five days later, and doing my first school visit in her library.

It was a beautiful Wednesday in Brisbane when we celebrated my daughter’s third birthday on Southbank with pub food, ice-cream and a ferris wheel ride. And another three days of fun wandering around Brisbane with the girls, enjoying them, and the easy, pleasant delights of the city.

It was happiness hanging out with some of our very favourite people for nearly a week, between book events, birthdays etc.

It was with a sigh driving home late afternoon, yesterday.

‘Where are we going now?’ asked my now three-year-old. After thirteen different beds in six weeks, it was a reasonable question.

‘Home, little one,’ I said.

Her face lit up. ‘Yay!!! Home!’

Moments after getting out of the car, a bee stung my toe. It hurt like Hades. Still does.

And that’s how it went.

Thirteen beds, nine bookshop visits, three library visits, one school visit, two preschool visits, two bookmaking workshops, one writers festival, two birthday parties, a wedding, a funeral, umpteen friends and relations and one bee sting later. We were home.

Yes, it was a crazy crazy time. There were lots of ups and downs. Lots of heartache. But also, lots of joy.

I loved, and don’t think I will ever get sick of, reading to little delighted faces, and talking about the book. Guess what? I’ve finally memorised it!

I loved, and definitely will never get sick of staying with different people, reconnecting, and learning about their lives and their ways.

I have loved, and know I will never get sick of hanging around with my little sunshine family. Warts and all, they are a little delight and the sunshine of my heart.

You know the other good thing about it all? Hanging around in bookshops and libraries and around literary people  and small readers for a month or so is very inspiring. I’ve written several more stories, and reworked many more.

We are home. My book is on the shelf, and on shelves around homes all over Australia. I could have told you the highlights – the Instagram-worthy gloss. But if there is one thing I have learnt this past month or so, the Le Grand Tour De Book and Too Busy Sleeping itself would have been nada were it not for the genuine, authentic connections I have made through this blog. So there you have it. Warts and all.

  • Amazing Zanni, just amazing!!!! You’re a published author! Thank you for sharing your tour and your book with us. I’ve loved it all, and especially the book. But more than anything I’ve loved seeing your dream come true xx

    • You are very sweet. Yes, it’s been an amazing journey, in so many ways! xx

  • Oh my! What an intense, incredible awe inspiring time. You have inspired so many and no doubt those little faces you’ve read to will remember it always. Enjoy home lovely xx

    • Thank you Shannon. It would be lovely if they do! At least a book has some permanence xx

  • Wow! What a month. It sounds exhausting and wonderful all in one. Either way, such an achievement. Well done Zanni x

    • Thank you Vicki! It feels good to be home, and have lots of stories to tell. Sorry we missed each other in Melbourne! x

  • What a journey it has been for you Zanni – I hope you can rest up a little (put your feet up with the bee-stung toe) and savour it all. X

    • Thank you lovely. Unfortunately I can’t, as I have so much work to catch up on! In fact, never have worked harder. But hey. The bee sting is gone 🙂 x

  • Ahh Zanni!!! What an epic adventure! I’ve loved seeing your gorgeous smile showing off your book with your little fam in various cities. It really is so very heartwarming. I still can’t believe I wasn’t in Brisbane when you were here. What are the chances?! Anyway, there will be other times xx

    • I know! That seemed a bit unlucky. Well, we will have to tee something up soon! xx

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    I’ve been following your adventures on SM and in awe of how far you have travelled and all the people you have met along the way. Congrats on the book and all the best for your future releases (I will definitely be there the next time you are in Newcastle!!!)

    • I will definitely go to Newcastle again Kirsty! It was so good there. Thank you so much for your support. Hope things are well with you x

  • Oh hun – what an incredible experience for you. I am so sorry on behalf of those awful women at the workshop. I hope we never have anyone like them cross our threshold again because the energy you brought to our space and the joy on those kids faces was absolutely beautiful and I feel sorry for them that they were too hung up on their own expectations to truly appreciate their children’s happiness xx

    • Thank you lovely. I felt bad for you guys too, as you did such a beautiful job, and create a stunning space (to leave kids for three hours, and have delicious food!) Here’s to more positive responses in the future! Though I have had some lovely feedback too, so it’s all swings and roundabouts. Sigh. Loved doing something with you creative ladies, anyway. Such a treat. xx

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  • Gosh, what a time you’ve had! Despite the lows in amongst the highs, it sounds like an adventure you’ll never forget. Congratulations on the publication of your book!