Kapiti Teenage Author launches fourth book
Kapiti’s award winning teenage author, Ben Spies, is launching his fourth book next month. Ben, who recently won a bronze medal at the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award in the United States, has written three highly acclaimed children’s books. His much awaited fourth book ‘2020’ is a science fiction novel and tackles the topic of climate change from a child’s perspective.
Ben’s passion for writing led him to become a published author at the age of nine with his first book, ‘Weirdo’. ‘The Magic Pencil’ followed soon after at age ten, and ‘The World of Greek Mythology’ at age eleven. Ben is thirteen years old now and is already planning his fifth book.
Ben puts his success down to his age. “I’m a teenager and I know what kids love to read and what makes them laugh. I think that’s why my books have been so popular with other children.”
This has been echoed by reviewers of his last book, ‘The World of Greek Mythology’. The NZ Booksellers Association’s reviewer Rachel Moore says, “Spies writes in a lively, fast-paced style, with lots of jokes and asides to his readers. He knows his audience well”. Alex Mitcalfe from NZ Reviews of Books writes, “The tone throughout is generally light, with a fair sparkling of humour. Spies tells jokes with far greater class than most adult writers for the upper-primary market.”
As a result of Ben’s prolific writing, his parents, Renata and Robert Spies from Raumati, have started an independent publishing company, Spies Publishing, which publishes the work of young authors. Ben hopes his writing will inspire other children to follow in his footsteps. “I’ve always loved reading and writing and I hope that some kid out there reads this and thinks, ‘Wow, I want to do that too!’”
‘2020’ will be officially released on the 26th of October and there will be two book launches to celebrate the event. It will be launched by Wellington children's author Helen Vivienne Fletcher on the 9th of November, at the Raumati South Hall in the Kapiti Coast at 3pm. And on the 16th of November at the Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie, Wellington, at 5.30pm, there will be a combined book launch with author Isa Pearl Ritchie who will be launching ‘Awa and the Dreamrealm’, her first book for young people. Everyone is welcome and you can RSVP to email@example.com.
‘2020’ is available from bookstores nationwide or online from Amazon, Book Depository or Ben's website: www.spiespublishing.co.nz
For further information contact:
Telephone: 0210 756 239
Welcome to our Spring Newsletter!
Spring is here! Well, at least in the Southern Hemisphere! It's great to see more sunshine and the days getting warmer! Love it!
We are so excited to have you as part of our journey! Our little business started as a way to inspire and celebrate my son's writing. When I realised writing was his passion, I self-published his first book when he was nine to give to him as a present, a reward for his efforts. Since then, Ben hasn't stopped writing and we are now about to publish his fourth book!! Woohoo!! 2020 is his first sci-fi novel. An action-packed science fiction for older children and young teenagers. The book is in the final stages of editing, proof-reading and printing, so once we have a date, I will send you an email with an invite to the launch. For now, keep reading our newsletters to catch up on what we've been up to, future events and the latest on our books!
Thank you to everyone who came to our past events. We love meeting our readers and getting to know new ones!! Keep reading below to see our next events or like us on facebook and follow us on instagram to know about our next events!
Great turn out at the Paekakariki library and Island Bay library for
our workshop "Create Your Book" for the Beyond the Page Festival in libraries around the Wellington region.
Ben had loads of fun shooting for his campaign with Phantom Posters. Did you spot any of his posters in these locations: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin?
Last month, we had the pleasure of being interviewed by the lovely book blogger and American author Connie Dowell from Book Echoes. You can listen to the interview on her podcast here.
On these school holidays our workshop will be delivered in partnership with The Roxy Cinema in Miramar at their holiday program - Roxy Rocketeers.
$45.00 per child. Discounts apply when booking multiple tickets. 9:30am-1:30pm
Wednesday 9th October. Movie: ABOMINABLE.
Activity: "Create Your Book" workshop with Spies Publishing, games and prizes.
Every ticket includes a film, games, snacks, prizes, face painting,
our workshop AND lunch! Limited places, first in first served.
Check more information and book directly with them in the link here.
We will be at the fabulous Wellington Underground Market together with 12 other New Zealand authors at the Underground Bookstore stall! We will be there Saturday AND Sunday this weekend 28th and 29th September, 5th and 6th October and 12th and 13th October. Come and see us and other authors with books varying from children, romance, thriller, travel and more! More info here.
Another date for South islanders - on the 26th of October we will be at the Wham Bam Author Jam Christchurch!! An event with authors from New Zealand and abroad, book signings and lots of fun! Can't wait to see you there! More info here.
We are so incredibly proud of Ben's book - The World of Greek Mythology! The book has been gaining great reviews from the industry! Highly regarded sites like the New Zealand Book Council, New Zealand Booksellers Association and the New Zealand Book of Reviews have issued fantastic reviews for the book. You can check all reviews on our site here. Reviews are the most effective way to get a book known to new readers, specially in Amazon. If you have read any of Ben's books and would like to support his writing, please leave a review for him on Amazon. You can find the link to his books under his author page and then click on the book you would like to leave the review: https://amzn.to/2kHACnb
Ben's new book is coming out soon! We're just in the final stages of editing before it goes to print. Will let you know as soon as we have a date! Very exciting!! :)
Earth's orbit is moving closer to the Sun and our planet is heating up at an alarming rate. The spacecraft sent by NASA, to find a new home for the human race, has been destroyed by an alien force. Twelve-year-old Jacob and his mother, Susan, are fighting for survival while witnessing the horrors of an apocalyptic world. With so many threats to our planet, the true enemy may not come from outer space, but from right here among us. Susan and Jacob are quickly running out of time. However, hope might be on its way after all... just not from where they expected. Will Susan and Jacob survive? Or will they fall prey to this dreadful, chaotic world?
Dear ARC members!! Check your inbox!! We have emailed you all with an advance copy of the new book - 2020!!
If you would like to be an advance reader for Ben's books, send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be opening membership again soon for the club!! We're just getting set up in a new platform, so you can receive all info and a link with the new book in the same place! Easy as!
To see all Ben's books, follow his Author page in Amazon:
Ben has been working on a new website for him! You can check it out his own site here and facebook page here.
Did you know we have created a platform for children who love writing like Ben? MY FIRST BOOK is a new service that transforms your children's stories into beautiful books. You can now upload the story and illustrations directly to our website! Check it out here!
Thank you so much for everyone who has been following our journey and supporting Ben's writing and books. You can find more information about us in our website www.spiespublishing.co.nz and purchase our books through Amazon or Book Depository clicking on images below.
Welcome to our Winter Newsletter for 2019.Winter has definitely arrived here in New Zealand and I can only dream of the nice sunny warm days some of you in the Northern Hemisphere are lucky enough to be having! Temperatures dropped to near zero this week, so wrapping ourselves in blankets by the fire and reading a book (or writing one!) was one of our favourite activities at home. I truly believe this was one of the reasons why Ben finished his fourth book!! We're stoked with the manuscript and can't wait to share it with you all! But, as some of you know well... finishing writing a manuscript is not the end, but more so the beginning of a long process leading to publishing. We are looking forward to send it to our editors soon and also to all of you who agreed to be our Advance Readers! Yay! You will be hearing from us very soon. (Well, not very soon, but soon!)
We have some news, workshops, events and of course Ben's new book to share with you below!
We had such a great time at the Booktown Featherston this year!! Thank you to everyone who popped by our stall! There was a great variety of book stalls and the program with author talks, workshops and children's activities was absolutely amazing!! Can't wait for next year event!! Thank you Julie Lamb for popping by and congratulations on the launch of her new book - Harriet and the Eye of the Bird!
Thank you to all the bookshops supporting
Spies Publishing and stocking our books.
A big welcome to our new bookshop on board - Masterton PaperPlus!
You can see a list of our retailers here.
Awesome to see a few mentions over the past few months in magazines, catalogues and websites about Ben's books. Check it out!
Check out the latest catalogue by IngramSpark featuring
'The World of Greek Mythology'. If you're in Australia, the US or UK, you can now request a copy of any of Ben's books from a bookstore.
Thank you Upstart Magazine for also featuring Ben's latest book
with an awesome review and the Young NZ Writers Website for sharing Ben's passion for writing and books in general.
If you're a bookseller you might have noticed our ad in the Booksellersnewsletter this month! Any wholesale orders from NZ can be requested through: email@example.com
We are delighted to be part of the fabulous 'Beyond the Page' literary event again this year!! Check out their fantastic program featuring some of the great names in the New Zealand book scene! We will be delivering our "Create Your Book" workshop over two days at the Paekakariki library and Island Bay library during the school holidays. If you would like to join us, check out more info at their page here.
We are delighted to reveal the title for Ben's new book .... 2020!!
2020 tells the story of an imminent catastrophic event on Earth about to happen in the year 2020. NASA has recently discovered that our planet is moving closer to the Sun and the human species as we know it, is about to be exterminated. Not many people know about it. The few who do, are desperately trying to save the human race, but are rapidly running out of options. And to make things worse, someone among them has a hidden agenda that can drastically interfere with any possibility to save us all. Our only hope might come from an unexpected turn of events.
Interested to read more? Ben would love to have some Advance Readers for his book. If you, or your child, would like to receive the manuscript before it goes to print, and give Ben some feedback, we would love to hear from you!! Let us know by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you read one of Ben's books? We would love if you could leave a review in our pages! Reviews are a great way to help an upcoming author like Ben to get known and appear in Google and Amazon searches. We really appreciate your review! Thank you!
Leave review in Amazon
Leave review in Google
Leave review in Facebook
Thank you for being part of our journey.
It has been a while since I sent our last newsletter and lots have been happening here at Spies Publishing! It's always hectic when you launch a new book and try to get it out there. But I'm happy to say that we have been receiving some great reviews for Ben's latest book - The World of Greek Mythology! I'm sharing a few below in this letter. Check them out. Ben also had a small feature in The Week Junior Magazine from the UK, where he shares his love for books and writing. He is extremely happy about it as it's one of his favourite magazines and he's been a subscriber for a few years!
If you've been following our Facebook page you would know by now that Ben is writing a new book! Yay! And we need you! Yes, we need some advance readers to read the book before anyone else (yes, you will have it first!!) and let Ben know what you thought of it - a true feedback that Ben will take into consideration and may accept your ideas before publishing it!
And last, but not least..... I've ALWAYS wanted to help other children to have their own books. Just like what I did for Ben. I have been approached by many parents asking if I could publish their children's stories too. And I'm super excited to say we now can!! Keep reading to find out how your young author can now have their own book!
Want to know what reviewers are saying about
The World of Greek Mythology?
Click on the images below to check the reviews out and if you like what you read, head on to Amazon to buy the book!
GIVE AWAY TIME!! HAPPY EASTER!!
Have you liked our Facebook page yet?
Head on to our page here to be in to win!!
Easter Giveaway - chocolate and books!! Yum!
Like and Share our page to be in the know of giveaways,
events, workshops and new books!
Nice to see Ben sharing his love for books and his passion for writing with the British readers! If you're in the UK, The Week Junior is a brilliant current affairs magazine for children aged between 8 and 14. It’s filled with fascinating stories and information, written to engage curious young minds and encourage them to explore and understand the world around them.
Check out their website for more information: https://theweekjunior.co.uk
WE NEED YOU!
Would you like to read Ben's next book and give him your feedback before we publish it? Email us at: email@example.com to let us know you want to be one of Ben's Advance Readers! You will receive his manuscript by email before it goes to print and you can let him know what you thought of his book.
We would love to hear from you!
MY FIRST BOOK
Most of you know how long I've been waiting for the opportunity to create books for other children. When I gave Ben his first book, I saw in his eyes something I will never forget. Pride. Ben was so proud of his story becoming a book that he never stopped writing after that. I strongly believe that children should be rewarded for what they love doing and put a lot of effort on. It's easy to reward a child who loves paying soccer or rugby. So many certificates are given to the best players. It's easy to reward a child who loves acting. There are many plays in the end of the year. And for a child who loves playing an instrument, we go and watch them in their concert. But what about a child who loves writing? It's a lonely journey to write your stories on the computer and have no one to share with. I experienced this with Ben. But once their story can be printed into a book, there's a chance they can share with families and friends and be proud too for their achievement. I'm so happy I can now help these children and create their first book! Click the image below and I will tell you how...
Helen and I made a video to introduce you to MY FIRST BOOK.
Check it out!
A bit more about Brain Bunny:
At Brain Bunny Workshops, the classes are focused on teaching kids how to write creatively. They instill a love of story telling, rather than focusing on spelling and grammar, helping children gain confidence in their creative writing skills. If you would like to know more about Brain Bunny Creative Writing program for your child, click here.
We are so happy to be part of Booktown Featherston again this year!!
Come and join us and lots of other New Zealand publishers and authors in this amazing event in the Wairarapa. There will be something for everyone in the family. And books! Lots of books! Check their program here.
If you haven't seen us in Instagram yet, click on button below to follow us!
Hello all and welcome to the final Spies Publishing Newsletter for 2018. I hope this finds you well and that you're all looking forward to a lovely summer holiday with friends and family.
I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all of you who came to our book launch for The World of Greek Mythology. It has been a labour of love over the past year and Ben and I were extremely happy to be able to have shared it with you. We have already been receiving emails and reviews about the book and with some of the readers asking when Ben's next book is coming out! So thank you, thank you and thank you for your kind and generous support this year. Some pictures of the day below.
I just wanted to finish wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with love, peace, health and lots of reading!
Our Book Launch for "The World of Greek Mythology" was a combined event with author and children's tutor Helen Vivienne Fletcher, who was also launching her latest book - "The Trespassers Club." Helen was also the editor for Ben's book.
If you couldn't come to our Book Launch, we are running an offer at the moment on our website for FREE DELIVERY!! (code: FREEDEL)
So head to www.spiespublishing.co.nz
and order your books for this Christmas.
(But be quick as NZ Post cut off date is on the 18th December!!).
If you would like to order Helen's books,
visit her website at: www.helenvfletcher.com.
Thank you Kapiti News for covering the Book Launch event.
And also Radio Coast Access for the awesome interview with Ben.
Huge thanks to the team at Grapevine Magazine and Capital Magazine for featuring our books in their issue this month. Check out both magazines below with links on where to get them. "The Magic Pencil" was part of a giveaway in Grapevine and Ben's new book - "The World of Greek Mythology" was in Capital in their Christmas issue. Both magazines contain great articles to entertain, inform and delight you these holidays!
We are running an awesome giveaway at the moment on our Facebook page! (until Sunday, 16th December). Head to Spies Publishing to enter the giveaway. We will be giving away Ben's three books, a copy of Capital magazine and some chocolates. Yum Yum!
"Create Your Book" Workshop
We are taking bookings for our workshops for next year! If you have an event or holiday program and would like to have us, send us an email.
We will be away for most of January, but we have one workshop scheduled at the Roxy Cinema, Miramar, Wellington on the 24th January.
You can book a space here.
We are also taking bookings for school visits. We have a new program for the schools, so please get in touch here.
Big thanks to the teachers at Boulcott School for having us last term.
Welcome to our new retailers Paper Plus Wanaka in the South Island and Dynamo Kidswear and Gifts on the Kapiti Coast, who are now stocking our books. You can see a full list of our retailers and bookshops on our website.
We were extremely honoured to have been invited to the launch of Marie Munro's new book - Bella's Fringe - a beautiful picture book. This humorous story about Bella's hair continues with the search activities in te reo Māori that appeared in "Nana's Shed” and extends the counting in English and te reo to 20. A great gift for this Christmas. You can get a copy of Bella's Fringe here.
If you would like to order our books through our website, remember to quote code: FREEDEL at check out to get free delivery.
Our pre-launch OFFER is also still on!
Combined book launch is set to inspire young writers
Twelve-year-old Kapiti author Ben Spies and children’s author and tutor Helen Vivienne Fletcher from Wellington join forces to launch their books in a fun filled, family friendly event celebrating young talents.
Many twelve-year olds love to read novels, but not many can say that they have written and published their own. Ben Spies’ debut book, “Weirdo”, was written when he was just nine years old. His second book, “The Magic Pencil”, followed soon after at age ten, and at eleven the young author wrote his third book, “The World of Greek Mythology”. Ben says he has no plans of stopping there.
Helen Vivienne Fletcher is a children's and young adult author, spoken word poet, playwright and creative writing tutor. She's published two young adult novels - "Broken Silence" and "Underwater" - a short story collection for adults, and three picture books for children. Her latest book, "The Trespassers Club" is her first mid-grade novel.
What do these two authors have in common? The passion to nurture and inspire young writers to follow their footsteps. Helen had been successfully running Brain Bunny Workshops, a business offering creative writing classes and holiday programmes for children, since 2011. When Ben’s mum, Renata Spies, started looking for writing activities, she was excited to find Brain Bunny. “I found that there are many activities out there related to sports, music, dance and arts for children, but not enough writing ones to choose from. How do you reward, nurture and recognise a child who wants to write? Brain Bunny Workshops has been instrumental in Ben’s writing journey. Helen createsa fun, friendly environment where creativity is actively encouraged while instilling a love for storytelling.”
In this digital age, Ben wants to inspire children to read with his books. He also wants other budding authors to realize their dreams and write their own stories. If he can do it, so can they. His new book, “The World of Greek Mythology” was inspired by the young authors’ love for the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. “I’m so excited to publish “The World of Greek Mythology”. Since reading the “Percy Jackson” series, I started developing a huge interest in the Greek myths, gods and heroes. I began researching the myths when I came home after school and reading any books I could get from the library that would help me, especially books about the Trojan War and Odysseus’ epic journey - one of my favourite chapters in my book. It’s great to have a book launch with Helen as she was also the editor for my book.”
“The Trespassers Club” is Helen’s first mid-grade novel and takes inspiration from her own childhood. “Trespassers Club was a game the kids in my neighbourhood used to play,” she explains. “The goal was to “trespass” in other people’s gardens without being seen. I loved the name and thought it would make a great title for a book. The story is partly set in an abandoned house, which is based on a real one from the street I grew up in.” She also finds inspiration in her students. “Running classes for children, like Ben, inspires me as much as it does them. They have such great ideas and look at the world in their own unique way. It’s great to be able to encourage that passion. I was really honoured Ben asked me to edit his book, and I think children are going to love it. I’m excited to be launching our books together.”
The combined Book Launch will take place on the 18th of November at the Raumati South Hall, in Tennis Court Road, Kapiti Coast, between 1.30pm and 4pm. Guests will have the chance to ask questions, chat with the authors, or get their books signed. There will also be face painting, crafts, a treasure hunt, colouring-in competition and a sausage sizzle.
Kia Ora and welcome to the Spies Publishing Spring Newsletter!
We are very excited to announce the launch of Ben's new book - The World of Greek Mythology. Ever wondered what the Greek myths would look like through the eyes of a child? Eleven year old author Ben Spies writes his version of some of the most thrilling tales of Greek mythology. We are working hard at the moment with our editors and designers to make sure The World of Greek Mythology is out in November ready for you to gift it to someone this Christmas! We will be sending a separate email with date and location for our book launch. We're organizing a super fun day with activities for the whole family. But if you can't be at our launch or want to pre-order your copy in advance,
Click on button below and order it now!
We will let you know when is out and ready for shipping.
PRE-ORDER from: www.spiespublishing.co.nz
Our workshops are back for this school holidays!
Check out dates and times below. We would love to see you there! Monday, 1st October - 10am to 11.30am at the Kapiti Community Centre in Paraparaumu Register through: firstname.lastname@example.org Tuesday, 2nd October - 9am to 1pm at the Roxy Cinema, Miramar. Movie, lunch and workshop Register through Roxy Rocketeers (https://www.roxycinema.co.nz/roxy-rocketeers) Wednesday, 10th October - 9am to 1pm at the Roxy Cinema, Miramar. Movie, lunch and workshop Register through Roxy Rocketeers (https://www.roxycinema.co.nz/roxy-rocketeers) https://www.spiespublishing.co.nz/workshops.html
Our “Create Your Book” workshop started as a desire to reproduce what Ben's parents had done for him when they published his first book - "Weirdo". (https://www.spiespublishing.co.nz/store/p4/Weirdo.html) An initiative to reward and encourage his writing. When children create their own books and take them home with them, they feel proud and recognized. And they have a beautiful book to remind them of their achievement forever. Find Out More (https://www.spiespublishing.co.nz/workshops.html)
Thanks to all the venues that hosted us during the last school holidays. We had a great time at the Upper Hutt Library, Lower Hutt Library, Ngaio Library, Waikanae Library, The Roxy Cinema, SKIDS holiday program, Kapiti Community Centre and the Writers Plot Readers Read bookshop event. It was great to meet so many of you. We had loads of fun and we're very humbled with all the feedback we received. Thank you! Here are some of them: “It was cool, interesting, fun”; “It was really interactive”; “It was soo awesome!!!”; “Great tips from Ben & his mother”; “Great event, kids loved it!”; “Very well organised, well planned, fun & worthwhile”; “I enjoyed hearing his personal experiences during the making of the book”; “I learnt different ways of writing”. Happy Anniversary to us!! We are celebrating our two year anniversary!!
Head to our Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SpiesPublishing/) and enter our giveaway to have a chance to win a prize!! Chocolate!! Yum!! And one copy of the Magic Pencil and one copy of Weirdo! Be quick! Giveaway finishes on Sunday the 30th of September. (Giveaway open to NZ residents only)
Plus we are offering FREE shipping on any orders this month on our website! Head to www.spiespublishing.co.nz and type FREEDEL at check out and we will ship your books for free!
For our subscribers outside New Zealand we have a great announcement to make! We have partnered with online retailer BOOK DEPOSITORY to bring you The Magic Pencil and Weirdo with FREE delivery anywhere in the world!!
Click on books below to be redirected to Book Depository website and purchase your copy. Get those Christmas gifts sorted with a unique present by a junior author! https://www.bookdepository.com/Weirdo-Ben-Spies/9780473424954?ref=grid-view&qid=1537324230620&sr=1-1 https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Magic-Pencil-Ben-Spies/9780473377779
Thank you for reading and we will be in touch soon with a date for our new book launch!
Want to go on an adventure? Travel to new places? Be a hero? Good news. You can – and it’s as simple as opening a book.
Last year, 400,000 New Zealanders did not open a book, according to statistics published by the New Zealand Book Council. A massive 40 percent of us don’t have the level of literacy we need in our daily lives. But there are loads of great reasons for us all to read more – particularly children.
Reading with children from a very young age helps them to develop their language skills and vocabulary. It helps with concentration and develops imagination – great skills for doing well at school. A variety of stories help children learn about the world around them. They love reading with their parents. Plus, it’s fun! Local young writer Ben Spies’ passion for reading led to him becoming a published author at the age of 9. His parents published his first book, Weirdo, as a gift to recognise and celebrate his passion for reading and writing. The family launched Spies Publishing in 2016 to bring Ben’s stories to a wider audience.
Ben’s second book, The Magic Pencil, was published in 2017. Spies Publishing worked with Vida and Luke Kelly – a husband-and-wife design team with experience working with legendary children’s authors Roald Dahl and Allen Ahlberg – to create a bright and beautiful book that draws young readers into the action-packed adventure. And following the success of The Magic Pencil, Spies Publishing is re-releasing Weirdo – the hilarious story of Ugine, the weirdest boy in school.
The Kapiti-based business also makes fiction writing accessible to children through its Create Your Book workshops. Participants write and illustrate their own story, which is bound together into their very own book they can take home to show their friends and family. The next series of half-day workshops are coming soon at Southern Cross Garden Bar, Te Aro and Roxy Cinema, Miramar – search for “Spies Publishing” on Facebook for more details.
Spies Publishing is passionate about getting children reading by bringing them books written by their peers. Kids will love the weird and wonderful worlds of Weirdo and The Magic Pencil – authentic children’s stories, seen through a child’s eyes and written in a child’s voice.
You can get your copy of The Magic Pencil ($18) and Ben’s first book, Weirdo ($15) at spiespublishing.co.nz
F&R: Hi Renata! Tell me about becoming a parent.
Renata Spies (RS): I was backpacking in Europe when I was 26. I had the time of my life and learned English; I’m Brazilian and English is not my first language. I met my husband, Robert – and I never went back to Brazil. We got married and started a life together in London.
When Ben was born, the idea was I would keep working full time. I took six months at home and I really wanted to go back to work. I was with Marriott Hotels, overlooking the European Asian market for incentive marketing. I was travelling a lot – our head office was in Washington – and I had a nanny at home looking after Ben. It was what I wanted to do; my dream career.
But one day, he walked for the first time – and I missed it. I started thinking, what’s more important for me now? Is it being with my child or having this career? It really surprised me that I wanted to be a mum, because since I left university I had this image of me as a career woman and working a lot. But now, being a mum is my main goal. I try to do the best I can – it’s a very hard job!
Ben was two when I stopped working and we came to New Zealand. It’s the perfect place to raise a family. There’s so much to do with kids and I think the government understands that you should be with your child for the first years and give all the tools for that. Daniel came four years after Ben. He’s 8 now and Ben is 12.
F&R: These days, you have more of a portfolio career, right?
RS: When Daniel started kindy, I thought ‘what now?’ I didn’t want to go back to the office because I still wanted to spend time with them so I decided to start my own events business. It was great because it showed me I should be networking. I put myself out there, enrolled in workshops and met all these businesswomen. Three years ago, I started Kapiti Women’s Expo, to show the community what this group of women is doing. That was growing for two years. It coincided with starting the publishing business so I decided to sell this year and pass it on.
Time management is one of my everyday challenges. Everyone’s struggling with that. At the Expo, I made sure one of the talks was about parenting. The speakers always went back to look after yourself first. If you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after your family.
F&R: What does that look like for you?
RS: Every morning I go for a walk after I drop the kids off at school. I do a bit of yoga and I have my time that’s just for myself. And then I start my day. I know I have between 10am and 2pm to work; that’s four non-stop hours for my business.
I’m so glad that lots of companies nowadays are more flexible with mums and dads. They’re really seeing that your capability isn’t just available within office hours. You can work from home, or work in the evenings, and be as good as if you’re in the office; you still deliver but in a different way. My husband Robert works for New Zealand Post. They’re really flexible. It’s good that he can have that flexibility; you have to work as a team at home as well, parenting together.
F&R: What’s the story behind Spies Publishing?
RS: It started with Ben writing every day when he came back from school. I would see him on a lonely journey in front of his computer, just writing, and I didn’t know how to reward or recognise it. He wrote his first book Weirdo when he was 9. I had it published and I gave it to him as a gift. He hasn’t stopped writing since. I think he writes so much because he reads so much. Reading a lot gives him a great imagination. Children are so authentic in their thoughts and so funny and imaginative in their stories.
It’s a whole new world for me – I’ve never been in publishing before. When I started, I didn’t even know there were three edits; the structural edit, the copy edit and the proofreading. The most recent book, The Magic Pencil, had these three amazing editors. I found the best I could afford in order to have a really good quality of work. It didn’t take me long to realise I can do this; what I need is a great team of editors and designers to make me a good product. I’m learning as I go but I’m really excited. I hope we can inspire other kids to read more and write more. We need to really reward, recognise and nourish children’s writing.
F&R: You’re from Brazil and your husband’s from England. Even with technology, it can be incredibly difficult to build a relationship between children and their grandparents when they live in different countries. How have you dealt with that in you family?
RS: It’s amazing what technology can do. But there’s really nothing like grandmother’s cuddle and sitting down on the floor and playing with them. It’s not just the grandparents; it’s the extended family as well. We just came back from San Francisco. It was a family reunion with my sister and her family. There were seven children, all the cousins, all playing together. We try as much as we can to get together; I don’t want my children to grow up with no memories from family.
F&R: Last question: what’s the one piece of advice you’d pass along to new parents like me?
RS: I’m going to tell you what my grandmother told me when I was pregnant. She said babies need fresh air every day. So when I had Ben, I would go out with him every day to get fresh air. And then I realised it was for me! It’s not for the baby! My clever Nana, she knew! She died before I could tell her, but she knew I had to get out of the house and meet friends and go to playgroups – otherwise you can go crazy! So that’s my advice; just get out of the house every day and have some fresh air.
Check out Ben’s books, Weirdo and The Magic Pencil at Renata’s company, Spies Publishing.
Hello from Spies Publishing!
Hope you are all keeping warm with the arrival of Winter in New Zealand and the ghastly cold weather! But it's also great to see the sun making its appearance on the upper side of the Hemisphere. Thank you for all the new subscribers this month from that side of the world. Enjoy the sunshine!
Some of you might not know that Spies Publishing was born from our son's love for writing! Ben started writing since a very young age and as a mother, I followed his lonely journey for many years not knowing how I could reward or recognise his passion for writing. Until when he was 9 years old and I decided to publish his first book - Weirdo - and give to him as a present. I organised an amazing book launch for friends and family at our local library. The book was more than a gift for Ben. Since the launch, he's never stopped writing and his stories became funnier and more interesting which led me and my husband to take the plunge and start Spies Publishing - an independent publishing house creating children's books actually written by a child.
We have so many exciting ideas for the future, but I like to always go back and remind myself 'why' we started this business - to reward and recognise our son's passion for writing. And this is what we want to do for other children too. Recently I started running workshop to give other children the opportunity to also create their own books to take home and be proud of their writing. It's been an honour to meet hundreds of young writers in our workshops and I would love for you to join us at the future ones we have organised for this school holidays. Check date and locations below.
Thank you so much for being part of our journey and keep in touch.
Our workshops have been a great success and often booked out quickly. If you are looking for things to do this school holidays for the kids, check the dates and locations below and write down in your diary! We have a great line up of events and would love to have you there, including the "Beyond the Page" promoted by Wellington libraries.
"Create Your Book Workshop"
. Monday, 9th July - 10.30am - 11.30am - Waikanae Library
. Tuesday - 10th July - 9.30am - 1.30pm - The Roxy Cinema
. Friday, 13th July - 11am - 12pm - Ngaio Library
. Saturday, 14th July - 10.30am -11.30am - Upper Hutt CBD Towers
. Saturday, 14th July - 2pm - 3pm Hutt City War Memorial
. Tuesday, 17th July - 9.30am - 1.30pm The Roxy Cinema
. Wednesday, 18th July - 10.30am - 12.00pm Kapiti Communty Centre (Register with us! email@example.com)
. Saturday 21st July - 11am to 1pm - Writers Plot Readers Read
Our books can be found in a selection of bookshops around New Zealand. Welcome to our new bookshops: Take Note Tawa and Books for Kids in Hamilton.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our latest giveaway. The WINNER was Kim Corley . Thank you, Kim. Hope you're enjoying all the reading and the chocolate! Like our FACEBOOKpage to see our events and giveaways! And if you prefer INSTAGRAM, you can follow us HERE.
We had such a great time at the fantastic Booktown Featherston this year. Our workshop held over 30 children!! Wow! Thank you to everyone who came and enjoyed it. It was awesome to see so many young writers in the make!
Awesome to receive the reviews below and mention in the media. Thank you!
NZ Book Council
Thank you to all the media who had us featured recently. It's great to have our books reviewed and shared with young readers. Ben also did a great interview on the Australian radio station - Switch On Radio.