KidLitVic – Chapter / Middle Grade / Young Adult

Sharing notes on Chapter, Middle Grade and Young Adult, taken at KidLitVic 2017.

Chapter & Middle Grade Panel

Panel:  Paul Collins (Ford St), Jane Pearson (Text), Clare Forster (Agent – Curtis Brown), Suzanne O’Sullivan (Lothian Hachette)

  • Write with passion first. Then think about the age of your main character/protagonist.
  • Consensus seems to be that once the reader reaches the 10yo mark, they’re reaching for YA. (Is YA really written with 10yo readers in mind?)
  • Clare Forster looks at story, characters, voice, subject – the edge authors might have. Most importantly the big picture of the author’s career – not a book.
  • Series is potentially a means to sell more books – so has that selling point for Marketing. ‘When kids find something they love, they’re really keen for more and more.’ (Jane Pearson)
  • A major publisher can really push the marketing behind a series – but for smaller publishers it is more of a risk.
  • Clare Forster – Always remember the investment made by the publisher.
  • No matter how fantastic your idea, the thing is always your ability to write it. (Suzanne)
  • What’s unique. What captures your imagination? Your heart?
  • Series Proposal – What publishers expect to receive as a minimum before they can make the decision.
    1) Full manuscript for first book
    2) Outlines of subsequent books. (A second written book would be great – but not essential.)
    3) Jane Pearson would add that a projection of timeline is also good. To ensure that books will capture their market. Readers are growing up. May grow out of the market if the books don’t roll out in a timely fashion. In six months, good books can be forgotten.

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KidLitVic – Illustration & Picture Books

Sharing notes on Illustration and Picture Books, taken at KidLitVic 2017.

Illustration Panel

Panel: Melissa Keil (Five Mile Press), Michelle Madden (Penguin), Sarah Mummé (Lake Press), Christina Pase (Windy Hollow)

  • Postcards (at conferences, etc) are lovely. But a link is always a good thing to forward on to others. Need to be able to show it around – at acquisitions, etc. Digital is great.
  • Greeting cards are a way to get your work out there.
  • Michelle loves to see loads of stuff. Consistency is huge – to develop a character and be consistent across the pages. It’s good to see what you can do – different styles (as long as it is strong, and done well) – but consistency is important.
  • Melissa: Colour palette, characterisation, line-work – something that’s really unique.
    A vaiety of styles for a range of products.
  • Sarah: It’s very personal
    May fight for it, if she can see potential, with a really good brief, and a little bit of work.
  • Christina – literary picture books
    If she really loves it – or has something to fill the brief.
    Likes to know/see if they can draw people – because that’s a really difficult thing! (Show them in all different poses and emotions, in your portfolio.)
    Technical skills are vital during the process – to see an illustration from the back angle. Or from a different character’s perspective. It’s almost like illustrators are working with a film screen, not a flat piece of paper.

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Melbourne Highlights

Wednesday: Caught up with my dee-lightful writing friend, Dee White – and her bunny! So lovely to stay with Dee and her family, and have lots of chats over ensuing days…

Thursday: Had a day of author talks at New Gisborne Primary School, where last year they decorated a classroom door as the cover of ‘Bully on the Bus’ – and this year there were lots of colourful hands… but I forgot to click a pic. But I did get a photo of the cupcakes! #thankyouKylie

Enjoyed lunch with some fabulous fun teachers – who wouldn’t normally make the time to eat out! #icouldrelate #butitwassolovely

Ran a staff professional development on poetry across the curriculum areas. I always love this session – and it didn’t disappoint!  Continue reading

Whirlwind Week of Wonderful

Today is Friday – which makes it a poetry day! … After a whole WEEK of wonderful poetry days!! You can catch the link-up at Reflections on the Teche, where Margaret is hosting us this week. Thank-you Margaret. 🙂

Last night I arrived home from an author tour in and around Melbourne – and I had a blast! Talk about eyes opened. That is one HUGE city! But I covered north and south and centre in a wonderful crammed week of school visits, bookshop workshop, kidlit conference, networking, research, friending and just the teensy-tiniest smidgen of sleeping!

And I ticked a few big boxes! Continue reading

All the Busy – and Beautiful!

Life. Is. Busy. #thatisall

Quickest Poetry Friday post ever, coming right at you!

Last week (when I was so busy releasing ‘Too Many Friends’ into the wide, wonderful world) I missed Poetry Friday. But I popped in for a guest post on Be a Fun Mum, Kelly’s blog, with a tutorial on Recycled poetry – specific to Mothers’ Day. Yes, that is this Sunday in Australia. But don’t panic – you are not too late! Click across to Kel’s blog and you can create a gift from the heart for your Mum’s day that is sweeter than chocolates and twice as nice! (I have a couple of different examples there – including another personal favourite, ‘Paradise’.)

In the middle of the busy, I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to stop, and smell the flowers, with thanks to this posy of poetry in the post, beautifully written and illustrated by Avery. What a delight it was to see the pretty petals and smell the the beautiful taste of wind. Thank-you so much to Avery for brightening my week, as a part of the Silver Star Poetry ProjectContinue reading

Too Many Friends – Release Day

Today is release day of my most joyous book, ‘Too Many Friends’. I am delighted to share this little ray of warmth and sunshine with the world. If you haven’t yet seen the trailer, click back to my previous post – because I’m still feeling pretty chuffed about that! Meanwhile, for this special day I thought I’d include two of my favourite pages from in the book. Not spoilers! Though they do fit with the themes in the book.

1) Dedication

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Too Many Friends – Book Trailer

On Monday, my new verse novel is released – so this past week I’ve been busily behind the scenes doing things for that. And the ‘thing’ that took the most time, was the book trailer. After two full days of staring at my screen (Did someone say perfectionist…?) I am almost at the stage of needing glasses to see through my (new) glasses…

BUT… I have a book trailer!

Do you want to SEE it???

(Correct answer is YES! Because want to share it with you!)


My lovely editor Kristy had the idea for the gorgeous chapter headers (there are more!) throughout the book, and the amazing Jo Hunt excelled herself, going above and beyond anything Kristy and I had even dared to dream. Let this be my very heartfelt thank-you to you both! Aside from looking gorgeous in the book, they made my job with the trailer so much easier! (Or was it harder, deciding which images to use…?)

‘Too Many Friends’ goes on sale Monday, 1st May, but I heard from a teacher-librarian friend yesterday, who had attended a Professional Development in Melbourne, where it was ‘highly recommended’ by The Kids’ Bookshop. Kim bought a copy and read it last night, and her feedback was beautiful;

Such a gift for observing & capturing children’s thoughts/ feelings with yr exquisite use of words So much goodness in this book!😍 (@kimyeo)

Poetry Friday this week is being hosted on Teaching Authors, so be sure to skip across and collect the links and be inspired by all the wonderful ways you too can play with words in poetry. A special thank-you to Heidi Mordhorst and her creative class, who last week inspired me with their poems for two voices, which prompted another poem for my Antarctic WIP. (That’s a whole other kind of wonderful-good.)

As for me? I’m on a countdown to Monday… 😀

Title: Too Many Friends
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 978 0 7022 5976 0
RRP: $14.95

Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers

My early days as an adult poet were spent writing bush poetry. There is nothing quite like an Australian bush poetry competition to hone your rhythm and rhyme, where every syllable was counted, and stress marked – and any near-rhymes noted for deductions. I learnt a lot from the bush poets, and endeavour to keep this discipline in my writing today.

Recently I was flicking back over some of my bush poetry. Very little of it has had an audience, other than within competitions, or with friends and family. I thought Poetry Friday might be a good time to share some – and since we’ve just come out of a flood season, ‘Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers’ seemed like a good place to start. This tongue-in-cheek poem is not to malign the Toyota Landcrusier (‘Cruiser) product – which cannot be held responsible for the actions of men in their four-by-four utes.

To read more poetry posts, click across to Tabatha’s blog, The Opposite of Indifference, where you’ll find a flood of poetry links and love.

The ‘Cruiser (Landcruiser) is a workhorse on Australian properties.

Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers*

A torrent of rain brought an end to the drought
and inches poured down as the waters spread out.
The creeks became rivers, parched flats were soon lakes
and men in their utes began making mistakes.

The first left the road and traversed a new track;
thick slough on the ground though meant no going back.
A bulldozer, parked where it finished the job,
was revved up to extricate this sluggish yob.

The ground was a slop heap, the dozer not light …
It bogged and that fellow had worsened his plight
Relief when it came was surprisingly bleak;
“Get in – leave yer ute or we won’t cross the creek.”

The road inundated for many a day,
the ’Cruiser, forlorn, was then stuck in the clay,
’til waters subsided and man could return –
to next bog the tractor! You’d think he would learn …

Chap Two had a problem – a pump under threat;
with floodwaters rising it soon would be wet.
He first bogged the ute though – and, cause for alarm,
the salvage machines were marooned on the farm

The 4×4 wagon was given the task
of freeing the ’Cruiser – now that’s a big ask!
It soon was entrenched, also deep in the mire
and “Help!” was the plea, as the water rose higher.

With shovels, a neighbour and tin roofing sheet,
the wagon extracted – a notable feat!
While sitting in water that lapped at the floor,
the ute was then winched twenty metres or more.

The third – I don’t know what to make out of him …
He honestly thought that his new ute could swim!
His ’Cruiser “the best” never failing to please –
he’d cross this small puddle with consummate ease!

The floodwaters lapped at the six-foot depth mark –
one ‘k’ on a bend, yet he went for a lark!
When murky, brown water lapped up at the roof,
the ute was abandoned; sunk in reproof.

The volunteer rescue arrived in a rush,
to winch the subaqueous ute from the gush.
That sodden new ’Cruiser was towed back to town –
for dunking ensured the electrics went down.

Invincible men in their 4×4 utes –
what drives them to play in the mud like galoots?
Alas, I suspect that these overgrown boys
just have to act tough, with their Tonka-like toys.

© Kathryn Apel 2003 – All rights reserved.

Note: Chap Three was not known to us – he merely tried to cross a notorious flood stretch near our house. His new Landcruiser was insured – but rumour has it insurance didn’t want to know him, since he had driven through road closure signs to attempt his crossing.

Good Friday

You will find the Good Friday Poetry Friday links on Dori’s blog today, which is Dori Reads. Today I’m sharing some short poetic heartbeats about Good Friday, taken from our service, this morning.

fragile broken
the debt
we cannot pay

rooster crowed
three times;
you don’t know me

‘Long live the King of the Jews.’
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

‘It is finished.’

New Book, New Poem, New Project

It’s been a busy week on the blog. I don’t usually post this much! But here I am again, for Poetry Friday.

On Tuesday I shared a collage of pictures from my exciting mail day.

On Thursday I posted my line in the progressive poem. Irene has the next line on her blog, Live Your Poem – and she’s also collating this week’s Poetry Friday round-up.

Today I’m posting a double tetractys – only my second Antarctic poem (How is this so?!) and the first thing written on a new project I’m currently researching. (It’s just the tip of the iceberg!) This poem likely won’t make it into the project – but I’m testing the water (ice-cold!) and gaining some confidence to strike out on this new adventure.


of stone
on stone on
stone near stone on
stone on stone grey stone
stacked high like brick by balanced, cold, stone brick;
bleak stone walls rise from shale floor; upturned sledge
and planks form the roof;
ice winds bluster
as snow swirls
seal each

And … for my youngest son’s benefit, I’m also posting my first ‘real’ author pic. A number of years ago he declared I wasn’t a real author until I’d published five books. He’s trying to shift the goal posts now, but … I’m claiming!

Real Author. It sure has taken long enough!

My week’s been wonderful – and super-productive. Hope yours has, too!