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Hello and welcome to behind the scenes. Here you will find my latest news and events, my work in progress, including pictures and videos of my illustration process, plus free kids activities, life ramblings of an illustrator and more... Amanda Francey

Friday, May 10, 2019

Don't Forget M.E.

I’ve been chipping away at drawing this comic for a while now. A bit of dark humour to help spread awareness for ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known, and poorly titled, as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

* Trigger Warning *

The following content could potentially be emotionally challenging for some readers. 
Mortality statistics in patients with ME/CFS, including self harm are mentioned.

Sadly, my illustration was inspired by a true story (I changed the woman’s name out of respect for her family’s privacy). She had gone to bed early, and her husband found her hours later unconscious. She was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An inquest found nothing major was wrong with her. The coroner said she died of natural causes.

There’s nothing natural about dying at age 39! This women had previously been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and had been given antidepressants as the only treatment option.

ME/CFS needs to be treated like the serious, complex, multi-system, neuroimmune illness that it is. Doctors say, we’re healthy and won’t die from it, unfortunately, they’re misinformed.

See the ‘Don’t forget M.E.’ tag hanging from the dead women’s toe in my comic above? Sadly again, inspired by another true story. The below paragraph were the last words in a letter, Forget Me Not, written by Alison Hunter, in 1993 ~

“It’s not AIDS, although it’s similar, you can feel equally as ill only it doesn’t kill you. Not cancer either. I’m not dying or anything drastic like that. It’s M.E. Don’t forget M.E.”

~ Alison Hunter died of complications from ME/CFS in 1996.

There have only been a small number of cases where people have had ME/CFS as the official cause of death written on their death certificate. In England and Wales, between 2001 and 2016, only 88 death certificates stated that the death was either partly or fully caused by ME/CFS.

I wonder, how many cases are there that have something like this written on them?
  • Natural causes (due to failure to find anything wrong - as per comic above) 
  • Heart failure (people with ME/CFS die approx. 24 years younger of heart failure than the general population)1 
  • Cancer (people with ME/CFS die approx. 24 years younger of cancer than the general population)1 
  • Starvation (due to gastrointestinal failure. Gastrointestinal disturbance is common in very severe ME/CFS patients)2 
  • Suicide (six times more likely in ME/CFS than the general population, due to the poor quality of life and stigma)3 
Many people with ME/CFS don’t suicide because they’re depressed. They want to live more than anything, but their life feels like a living death, which is worse than death itself. They see suicide as their only option, because they’re missing from health care, research funding, financial and disability support. They see no light. No end to their suffering. No hope.

Please... Don’t forget M.E.

It’s currently international awareness week for ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia - May 5 to May 12.

What can you do to help?

1. Learn about this disease and the injustice of the neglect

2. Share awareness widely

3. Donate to research and to organisations that help people with ME/CFS.


Emerge Australia

My family are currently Running for ME at the Gold Coast Marathon 6-7 July 2019, fundraising for Emerge Australia https://give.everydayhero.com/au/franceys-running-for-me Or after the Marathon, you can donate directly to Emerge Australia.


Griffith’s NCNED (AHMF donors)

Very important when filling out the online form to select “National Centre for Neuroimmune & Emerging Diseases (AHMF donors)”


Open Medicine Foundation

OMF had a pilot study published recently with the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) of the United States, a renowned scientific journal. A nanoelectronics-blood-based diagnostic biomarker for ME/CFS. They need to do a larger study to implement this testing worldwide and to provide treatments. They desperately need more funding for stage two. OMF are the closest to solving ME/CFS and collaborate with world researchers, including Australia.


Unrest - https://www.unrest.film (available in iTunes and Netflix)

After Unrest - https://youtu.be/yKoheNZlqXg (short Australian documentary free on YouTube)

Voices from the Shadows - trailer: http://voicesfromtheshadowsfilm.co.uk

The full documentary is available for free. First, click URL below, join up with Vimeo if you haven’t already (it’s free) - then select ‘rent’ and enter promo code VOICES to watch full documentary for free: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/22513/108797012

* Australian National Support *

* Lifeline: 13 11 14 * Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 
* Headspace 1800 650 890 (supports young people between 12-25 yrs) 
* Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 * Carers Australia 1800 242 636  

* USA National Support *

 *Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
 or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5218818/

2. https://www.meassociation.org.uk/2018/05/inquest-ruling-young-drama-student-merryn-crofts-killed-by-m-e-18-may-2018/

3. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3439290/Chronic-fatigue-sufferers-6-times-likely-commit-suicide.html

Sunday, November 18, 2018

That Christmas Feeling Children's Book Exhibition

That Christmas Feeling has spread some festive fizz over the walls of The Literacy Centre, Fremantle, this term. If you're over that way, make sure you drop in and see their Term 4, children's book exhibition.

click above four images for larger view

The exhibition showcases my illustration process from beginning to end, including explanation notes on how I illustrated That Christmas Feeling, written by Lili Wilkinson.

If you're unable to make it to the exhibition, not to worry, as much of my illustration process was covered in Kellie Byrnes' Illustrator Interview with me.


That Christmas Feeling
Written by Lili Wilkinson
Illustrated by Amanda Francey
Allen & Unwin 2017

A gorgeous, heart-warming story about misplacing
the Christmas spirit, and finding it again.

BUY NOW from Allen & Unwin

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Children's Chapter Book 'Trouble for Toby' Launch Party

Janet Reid's Launch Party celebrating the release of Trouble for Toby was a great success! Thanks to the friendly staff at The Artist Cafe and Gallery for all of your support on the day.

Thanks to Joanne Sandhu and Kirsten Button for 
bringing your cameras and capturing the day.

From the author...

“Launches are amazing events. Each one is different, but they all have one thing in common – families supporting family, friends supporting friends, and writers supporting writers. The Trouble for Toby launch was not different with a great mix of all these.

I was glad I chose the caf̩ option Рhaving the venue prepared and event catered meant it was one less thing for me to worry about and allowed me to enjoy the afternoon.

A long-time writing friend, Duncan Richardson, launched the book and spoke about the importance of books like Trouble for Toby, and characters who use their imagination. Then my friend, Margie Riley, to help me with the reading. That worked well and made me less nervous.

It was difficult to chat with friends for more than a minute or two - I guess that's the nature of launches - but the atmosphere was buzzing from the moment the first guests arrived. It was a great way to launch Toby  in to the world of children's books.”

Janet Reid

Unfortunately,  I wasn't well enough to attend the launch and help with the children's activities as planned. However, I would like to thank my good friend, writer/illustrator Justine Lawson for saving the day.

Here's what Justine had to say...

“I had fabulous fun at the Trouble for Toby book launch, helping with the kids making pirate faces and doing word puzzles and colouring. I loved seeing the variety of pirate faces they made from the same basic elements, and the particular relish with which the kids drew the pirates' rotten or missing teeth.

The girls and boys were excited about being at the launch of a new book, talking about their friends called "Toby" and wondering if the illustrator was inspired by their own school uniforms for the book characters.”

Justine Lawson

Well, we can't leave children wondering...

"I was inspired by the Australian state school uniforms in general, which haven't changed a great deal since I was at school. I attended two different primary schools, and the second, I wore blue checkers, much like the uniforms Jenna and Ivy are wearing on the front cover illustration. So I guess, subconsciously, I was inspired by my own school uniform."

If you missed out on the launch and the children's activities, my illustrated colouring / word search activity is available to download by clicking the image below. And there are more activities on my Fun Stuff page to keep the children amused over the school holidays. Hopefully, it will give the adult folk enough time to sneak in a quiet cuppa. And maybe some cake.

Trouble For Toby activity page
This artwork is for personal use only and is not permitted to be used for resale or commercial purposes

Trouble For Toby
Written by Janet Reid
Illustrated by Amanda Francey
Wombat Books 2018

Toby has one mission at school: To stay out of trouble!
Only then will his parents let him have a pet.
But that's just it, Toby has trouble staying out of trouble.

BUY NOW from Wombat Books

Sunday, June 17, 2018

That Christmas Feeling Picture Book CBCA Notable 2018

I was thrilled to bits when I realised That Christmas Feeling, written by Lili Wilkinson and illustrated by me, was listed among the CBCA's Book of the Year: Early Childhood notables this year. It's such an honour to be grouped with so many amazingly talented authors and illustrators.

To see the full list, here are the CBCA notables for 2018.


That Christmas Feeling
Written by Lili Wilkinson
Illustrated by Amanda Francey
Allen & Unwin 2017

A gorgeous, heart-warming story about misplacing
the Christmas spirit, and finding it again.

BUY NOW from Allen & Unwin

To add to this excitement, Lili's and my book was mentioned in the Quest North-West News (Wednesday March 28 2018),
for That Christmas Feeling making the 2018 notables.

And it was such an honour to be mentioned alongside Michael Bauer's and Chrissie Krebs' for making the CBCA shortlist with Rodney Loses It

A huge congratulations to both of you!
You can purchase Rodney Loses It from booktopia

Click cover image (left) to visit North-West News
Then click calendar icon top left corner.
Then look for this cover:
(Wed March 28 2018 - Page 8)