How to Host an Author or Illustrator at Your School

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  • Read their books before the visit.
  • Talk about what makes this book different from other books you’ve read … and what makes this book special.
  • Talk about how the book makes you feel … and techniques the author and/or illustrator has used to achieve this.
  • Talk about the shape and placement of the words on the page.
  • Talk about what the illustrations bring to the story.
  • Do activities inspired by the book.
  • Write and illustrate your own text innovation.
  • Experiment with the style and medium that you think the illustrator may have used.
  • Create a book or a banner, to showcase student work.
  • Have your camera ready to take photos of your amazing kids with these very appreciative visitors.

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Picture Books Pulse

School holidays means, no; school lunches, early mornings, pressures and routines. Creativity uncoils and my brain has space to explore possibilities and see the bigger picture of writing…

My July ‘holidays’ in a nutshell…

Three tweets set the scene.

Son sets the bar… high.

Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking

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Australian Stories Threatened

KatApel_KoalaPostcardIt seems like it wasn’t that long ago, we were fighting to protect Australian stories, and our vibrant Australian publishing industry… and yet here we are again! The Australian Government is again looking to remove Parallal Import Restrictions on books, ripping the heart out of the Australian publishing industry. Continue reading

How to Storybird

Last week I posted about my discovery of Storybird. (You can read more here.) Storybird has been around since 2010, so I was feeling a little late to the party… but it soon became apparent that I wasn’t the only late arrival. So… for those of you who’ve never flown the nest, here’s a little peek into the process of creating a poem in Storybird. (You can also write picture books and chapter books, without the word ‘tags’ but I love the immediacy of the poetry – and haven’t yet spread my wings much in the other areas. And besides, this is Poetry Friday. 😉 )

First, you choose a photo (1) as inspiration. There are so many illustrations to choose from, generously shared by incredibly talented artists. There are vibrant pieces with an abundance of colour, or simpler black and white illustrations – or muted colours in between. (Something for every mood and preference!) For this example, I chose bright rain by thedreamygiraffe

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Ipswich Story Arts Festival

Every kidlit festival I have attended has been a lot of fun – and each of them special in their own way. The first week of Ipswich Story Arts Festival was this year held in the Ipswich CBD, with authors staying at the Metro Motel, and sessions spread around venues in close proximity, in the city centre. My first day’s sessions were held in the Metro conference rooms, and the second day I popped over the road where I had a lovely auditorium at the library. Whichever venue I was presenting in, I had one requirement; I had to have a microphone! I’d lost my voice at a school visit the week before, and you have NO idea how hard it is to find a lost voice!

From a presenter’s view, the Story Arts Festival shines because of the relaxed environment that the close proximity fostered – which enabled friendships and fun with other presenters, both in breaks, and during the after-school events, whilst still being accessible to the kids. (And THEY were the reason we were there!)

One of my favourite images from the event is this – slightly blurry, but catching the movement of a stream of students passing in (and out) of the Metro Motel’s main entrances, enroute to the conference rooms, where talks were held. Because that’s what kids do!

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Ritzy Kids

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Books Light Up Our World

I was asked to speak to a group of parents about what inspires me to write. The talk was being organised to educate pre-school parents of 0-5y0s about the value of reading to young children. Unfortunately given distance and timing, it wasn’t possible to be at the meeting, but I shared a few written thoughts about the inspiration for my books for younger readers, This is the Mud! and Bully on the Bus – and I also pondered why I, as a Mum, valued reading.  Continue reading

Somerset CELEBRATION of Literature

The Somerset Festival of Children’s Literature was an extravagant celebration of literature by a whole school community, shared with a much wider community. It was a blast and I was thrilled to be involved in this wonderful event.

These pics don’t begin to capture the festive atmosphere or the fun had by all. But they do bring back wonderful memories for me.

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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.