One of the holiday highlights for me was without a doubt the CYA Conference, held in Brisbane in conjunction with the Brisbane Writers Festival.
Problem being… while normally I’m 6 hrs up the road – this year I was halfway across the country!
But some opportunities can’t be missed. So, after driving 4000km (and almost as many days) to reach Darwin, within 12 hours of our arrival I was in a plane (at 1am – yee-uch!) and winging my way back to Qld. (How c-razy is that?!)
The CYA Competition gave ‘This is the Mud!’ a jumpstart to publication when it won the inaugural Preschool Picture Book Manuscript category in 2006. In 2009 – the year of it’s release – I was invited back for a muddy celebration at the CYA.
A hundred children’s writers, illustrators and publishers in one place at one time. What fun! Putting faces to names – and wicked personalities! Meeting authors who’ve impacted on my journey… Talk, talk, talk, talk, talking… And attending workshops too, of course.
How could I resist?
For me, the unforgettable highlight was the session I shared with Dee White (‘Letters to Leonardo’) and Kim Miller (‘They told me I had to write this’), when we got to celebrate the launch of our CYA success stories.
For a while I felt like the rose between the thorns (I like that!) sharing the celebration with two YA novels – with two ‘letters’ books at that. (And muddy me, squished in the middle.) But don’t let that analogy scare you off Kim and Dee’s writing. Yes they address some prickly issues – but in their own unique styles, they both do it so well. (More on that in another blog.)
The CYA would have been brilliant for the workshop alone. But it offers so much more to Australian children’s writers and illustrators! There’s that fantastic competition that offers feedback to every writer. And networking with a range of prominent industry professionals. Friendships… Inspiration… Great food!
And this year, there was that not-to-be-missed opportunity to extend the celebrations and fling some more mud around. But more importantly, to acknowledge the mammoth amount of work that Tina Clark and Ally Howard – with their team of volunteers – pour into the CYA each year. I for one am extremely grateful!
You thought I was tall before? I tell you, I was HIGH that day!