The Katoomba treehouse studio of 29-year-old artist Meredith Gaston was buzzing with the news last week she had made an important shortlist.
Inspired by her life in the Mountains, the Penguin published book 101 Moments of Joy and Inspiration was shortlisted for the people's choice book of the year at the Australian Book Design Awards. The winner was expected to be announced as the Gazette went to press.
It coincided with another coup for Ms Gaston, with American publishing rights for the book secured and a New York release date soon to be announced.
"I have never been in such a position before but it is very exciting to be recognised ... no matter the outcome," she said of the listing last week, adding she "can't wait to visit New York and meet with my publishers".
Ms Gaston's second book uses water colours and her ink illustrations with the words of wise philosophers, as a balm for life - quotes that "made me want to draw", she said.
It was created amongst the peace and quiet of her lovingly restored 1860s home brought by bullock and cart from the Megalong Valley to its present site in 1901 where she lives with her German partner, marketing executive Kevin Lindemann.
"I can't believe how far and wide my little book has travelled," she said recently.
Indeed amongst her many followers is the singer Kylie Minoque, who tweeted a picture of herself with Ms Gaston's book, giving thanks to a friend who had bought it for her. The internationally recognised artist relocated to the Mountains four years ago, a move planned since childhood after spending winters here.
It's where she also continues to fundraise for breast cancer, raising more than a million dollars with fashion label Sussan through pyjama sales and hand illustrated cards. She now works in charity product development for the company.
"I am thrilled to be working toward this cause, and to know that the drawings and products I create can make a difference.
Ms Gaston says the Mountains has been "very grounding".
"To be in the studio every day and have such positive reinforcement, I was drawing from the most beautiful words - this book was balm for my spirit and that's what I wanted to create."
Ms Gaston has two more books set to be published. The companion edition to 101 Moments - "about journeys of both the inner and outer kind and full of adventurous new words" due out next year and another on wellbeing in daily life.
"It's a holistic take at how we can glow inside and out using our healthy thoughts, choices and inspirations," she said.
And she continues to be supported locally.
"I have been going in and signing copies regularly at Megalong Books in Leura, they have been fantastic.
"The mountains is such an inspiring place to be amongst thoughtful, creative people in a picturesque natural environment."
"I am creating a new range for the BCNA [the Breast Cancer Network Australia] with Sussan. We are now working on funding some very culturally specific programs to assist women throughout their diagnosis, especially women to whom services may not have been clear, or not fully used due to personal, religious or cultural limitations."