It started with Sherryl Clark’s book, Sixth Grade Style Queen NOT! (Penguin) – and blossomed with a class of Year 7 students. (They loved it and I loved the discussion that it generated, especially amongst the boys. Rich analysis and interpretation – expressive reading.)
It grew reading the wonderful works of Lorraine Marwood, Steven Herrick, and Karen Hesse. By Sally Murphy’s exquisite Pearl Verses the World (Walker) I was in love.
The verse novel is a powerful arrangement of words and emotions on paper. An exquisite agony of reading, breathing bare bones of beauty. I knew with a certainty that I needed to play with this form for myself. To carve words and white space and open hidden places in my heart.
In a serendipitous way Bully on the Bus was written – from chapter book, to verse novel. (You can read how this came about on my post Laying the words down on the page.) The rewrite was like watching a butterfly emerge from the confines of its chrysalis. A delicate balance of strength and frailty – of beauty. Further rich insights from the generous and lovely Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright strengthened Leroy’s story, and feedback I have received has given me hope that one day, my dream of publishing a verse novel might become a reality.
I entered Bully on the Bus in the 2012 CYA published author competition, and I was delighted when it shortlisted. To be honest, I’ve been a little disheartened by my publishing journey of late. So many things have come sooooo close, that feedback is so often a sharp combination of bitter/sweet hope… and disappointment. It was a wonderful thrill to be shortlisted – but in my heart-of-hearts, I didn’t expect to place in the final listing.
Until I arrived home last weekend to find I’d missed three calls on my mobile (and more on my home phone) scored a text from Tina (“Call me”) and finally an email… (because I was proving hard to get) …
Takes deep breath because it surely can’t be what I’m beginning to think it is…
Yesterday, at the annual CYA Conference in Brisbane, Bully on the Bus was announced as winner of the published author category, with friends and confidants Karen Collum, 2nd, and Dee White, 3rd. A huge honour giving wings to fantastic flights of fantasy and hope. (And a giggle to hear friends in the audience cheering and applauding as I received my award. Because the children’s writing industry is built on supportive friendships!)
It was fantastic to be at the conference, (last minute flights in and out organised!) a buzz to be with others in the children’s writing industry, and a delight to meet with the lovely Zoe Walton from Random House, final judge of the competition. Altogether such a wonderful injection of life, energy, enthusiasm and direction.
Once again I find myself saying a huge thank-you to Tina Clark and all the CYA team who make the conference and competition a reality year after year. It was my second CYA win – and with seven years between the two, this was every bit as exhilarating as the first. I can’t help but hope that Bully on the Bus follows in the footsteps of This is the Mud! (my first CYA winner) and finds its own perfect publishing house soon…
It’s moments like these that I believe it might.
PS I didn’t dream it. It really IS real. 😛 Click on the link to read all the CYA Results 2012. Excited to see another Bundaberg writer in the shortlisting, too! And the other delightful thing I forgot to say, is that my picture book, ‘No Cows!’ inspired the three illustrators in Category 7. Fantastic to be there and see their wonderful works of art. I think they’ll go up on the CYA site, so if they do, I’ll add the link and you can check them out!