My Cocoa

Cocoa: Sixteen *

A calf has gorgeous deep, dark eyes
framed by long curled lashes
and when it sucks from the bottle
in your hand it is the cutest thing
and you want to keep it
forever.

She is old now;
grey hairs pepper her
black hide
and her tread… drags… slow…ly

as if she knows

the end is near –
and I
can’t bear
to let her
go.

* © Kathryn Apel January 2013

Cocoa

 Some pets we have for a short time, and others seem to be with us for a lifetime. But not long enough…

Her name was Cocoa, and for almost 18 years, she dotted the landscape of our home paddock. Yesterday we said goodbye – and the view will never be quite so beautiful. Today I find my eyes still roving the paddock looking for her not-so-glossy, not-so-youthful frame… as sorrow wells and I remember all over again, that she is gone.

My Cocoa. xx

(Cocoa was my first bottle-reared baby; the shy one. Amber joined us 2 months later. Though we have had countless mobs of cattle in our home paddock over the years, the girls were rarely far apart. As the photos show.)

Sneak Peek – What I’m Writing

I’ve been tagged again – this time by talented picture book author and beautiful, supportive friend, Katrina Germein.

The challenge is to share 7 lines from page 7 or 77 of a current WiP. Then tag other writers to continue the game.

Here’s 7 lines from page 7 of my current WIP – another verse novel.

 

My hand hurts and the
harder I try the more
those blue lines
squeeze my letters
out of                         place
.           out of
.                        shApE.

 

Now to tag the next writers to share a sneak-peek of their work…

1) Adam Byatt , 2) Rebecca Newman and 3) Samantha Wheeler.

Looking forward to seeing where you’re all at with your current WIPs! (And congrats Sam, on your beautiful new UQP book, Spud & Charli. xx)

Author Visits & Awesome Schools

This term has been a wonderful celebration of books and creativity, with so many different schools and children – and at other community events. I wish I had more photos to show you – the interactions, engagement, creativity and achievement. And the gorgeous costume parades that many schools marked the day with. They were awesome! Alas, I was so busy, I usually forgot to take pics! *sad face*

One of the highlights was seeing the teachers getting into the spirit of things – and not just the primary teachers, either. Huge cheer for the secondary teachers who celebrated a love of literature (and dress-ups) with their students – and also played with the different poetry forms. Yes, even the man-arts and maths/science teachers. You were all awesome!

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The wonderful thing about author visits is that the activities I’ve been doing with teachers and kids to inspire creativity in the classroom… inspire creativity in me! Which means, I’m now going to go and WRITE something! :D

On the Road Again…

The yellow ‘Bully’ bus has hit the road again, this time rolling up at the Curtis Coast Literary Carnivale, in Gladstone, for more launch celebrations.

The book was launched by Robyn Sheahan-Bright, President of the Curtis Coast Literary Carnivale; lovely, generous lady, and a font of wisdom in the children’s publishing world. Robyn read a draft copy of my Bully on the Bus manuscript (four years ago, as Robyn reflected in her speech), and offered invaluable feedback in many areas, but most significantly, in freeing my creative wordplay, which, for some reason I had nipped in the bud in earlier versions. It was a real treat to hear her thoughts on the finished book!

The ice-cream cake to launch the book was FAN-TABULOUS! So many gorgeous colours underneath that lovely Bully cover! And wonderful to share it with so many people who have impacted on my writing journey.

Enough words. Here are some pics of the day. You’ll see that sneaky Bully/Wolf has made an appearance again. But she’s trying very hard not to be nasty! We even had our very own lovely BUS DRIVER roll up for some cake and photos.

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Thank-you to the members of the Curtis Coast Literary Carnivale committee, who nurture local writers, and inspire a passion for literature in the children of the Port Curtis Region. Your efforts are appreciated, and invaluable!

Guinea Pig Love

This blog is mostly about my writing, but sometimes life pops in. Today life is here with teary eyes and a sobbing heart.

Five good years with lots of loving, memories and photos (oh so many photos!) and we say goodbye to our beloved Gipsy. She was the Queen of guinea pigs – placid affectionate, adorable and snuggly-cuddly. Everybody should have a Gipsy Queen in their life!

We will miss ours.

Goodbye my Gipsy Queen.

Goodbye my Gipsy Queen.

CYA Notes – Agents and Editors

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I attended rich and varied sessions at the 2014 CYA. And I’ve got notes on all of them. But I thought I’d share these little gems, since everyone always wants to know what publishers are looking for!

Katrina Lehman – Penguin

  • Not just theme. It’s the magic also.
  • Multiple submissions are fine nowadays. Submit to multiple publishers because the lead time is so long. Send to all the publishers you can!
  • 5 editors at Penguin. They do try to mentor an author each, each year.
  • Personally, Katrina Loves Fantasy. Dystopian, supernatural, dark fairies.
  • Junior Fiction Series.
  • Trilogy is hard because publishers need to commit a lot of money to a trilogy. Try to complete it in one book!
  • Don’t send presents. (Everyone affirmed this, and some shared horror stories of messy (and expensive) gifts they’d received.)

 

Karen Tayleur – Five Mile Press

  • Very early 0 – 6 & Adults
  • Early learning, picture books & novelty books.
  • ‘If anyone has a great idea for novelty, we’re the one you come to.’
  • ‘What I’m looking for is picture books, really. I’m just looking for picture books.’
  • ‘Picture books are the hardest thing to do, so if you don’t have a strong will, leave now.’
  • Collaboration of ideas.
  • Takes email submissions.
  • Six month waiting list.
  • MENTION if you attended CYA – to jump up the pile.
  • ‘Never say never. We (FMP) are doing naught to six. But if it’s so amazing, we might look at it, anyway. (But at least acknowledge you know what our style is.)’
  • Happy for you to check in via email after a couple of months to see how things are going.
  • Reading submissions is outside of 9 – 5. We get to read your work in our time. But it’s worth it, because we get to read some beautiful stuff.

 

Leonie Tyle – Tyle & Bateson Publishing

  • Publishing Poetry and YA (In partnership with Catherine Bateson)
  • Write from the heart. It’s the indefinable that highlights your writing. It has to sparkle/shine of the page. The language has to be lyrical.
  • Offering agency representation for picture books and YA.
  • The world’s your oyster.

 

Suzanne O’Sullivan – Lothian Hachette

  • Lothian is the Australian imprint for Hachette childrens.
  • Hooks;

1)  humour
2) sense of character. As author and illustrator you need to show a sense of character.
3) Stories where stuff happens. A lot of action. Not description. I want action.

  • The number 1, 2, 3, 4 … thing I look for is ‘damn good writing.’
  • Kids are the only readers who are more important than editors.
  • Keen to develop ongoing relationships with authors.
  • Work out what your strongest area is and then deal with that. Find your niche and stick to it to build a name and profile. 

 

Rochelle Manners – Wombat Books / Rhiza Press 

  • Produce stories you’ll want to share – to pick up and read over and over again.
  • Family oriented – not too edgy.
  • If the message is the main thing, it won’t work.
  • Wombat Books – picture books
  • Rhiza Press – Readers 14 +

 

Sue Whiting – Walker Books

  • Produce quality books.
  • Stories with heart. Quirky characters. Unique voice.
  • Do everything you can to work on your craft. Make your story sing!
  • The kind of author/illustrator I’d like to work with. Without YOU we don’t exist. WE NEED YOU! We need authors/illustrators to exist as editors.
  • ‘The Real Deal’ – You don’t always have to agree with what they suggest. Know your stuff.

 

Alex Adsettt – Agent

  • Now also looking at middle grade fiction/chapter books. Has one PB author. Blew me away and knocked me off my feet.
  • Wants everything that’s all been said, because they’re the people she’s submitting your work to.
  • Don’t write to a trend. The minute you do, you aren’t writing from your heart. AND you will miss the trend! Making it the hardest thing to publish.
  • DIgital submissions. Don’t use comic sans/coloured fonts. DON’T write the cover letter from the POV of your character.

 

Sue Whiting later took a workshop talking specifically about endings – and I’m so glad she did, because I know from my own writing, and critiquing/judging others, it’s the ending that’s the hardest to nail!

 

Endings Matter (Sue Whiting)

  • Your opening will sell this book, but it’s your climax & ending that will sell your next.
  • Endings are your gift as an author to your readers.
  • Readers may not remember what the ending was, but they will remember how they felt.

Common faults;

  1. Rushed ending – runs out of steam
  2. Flat ending – So what?
  3. Never-ending ending – Cut the last three chapters.
  4. Random ending – Off on a tangent
  5. Several-endings ending (Closely related to Never-ending. Cut. Cut. Cut.)
  6. Dangling ending – Doesn’t answer all the Qs
  7. Lame or disappointing ending – A letdown.

How to Nail Your Ending;

  • Lay sound foundations in the beginning to create a satisfying resolution.
  • Know the problem.
  • What drives your story?
  • Know in a nutshell what your story is about.
  • Threads/themes/plot lines should be linked to protagonist achieving (or not) their goal.