CYA 2017 Highlights

The absolute highlight of the CYA conference for me was catching up with new and old writing friends, and seeing many of them successfully place in the competitions.  The absolute look of joy on their faces as they were rewarded for their efforts in working on their craft and then having the courage to submit their stories were priceless.  Four Write Linkers placed this year, Jacqui Halpin, Leslee Hewson, and Danielle Freeland and Rachelle Sadler(who placed twice).   A big congratulations to Jacqui for her first placing, and she had a placing last year as well.

The cheer from the Write Linkers as each of their writing buddies went up to accept their certificate was loud and joyous.  Another friend from the Rainforest Writing Retreat Georgina Ballantine, also received a first place in her category, and I was so, so happy we had a chance to chat during the morning tea break.  And a couple of SCWIBI friends did well in the competitions as well, Sandra Flett, and Sheryl Gwyther.

There is a good chance with 200 people I didn’t see half my friends that were at the conference, so apologies if we didn’t catch up or it was a quick passing wave.  There’s always a next time.

 

Another highlight of this conference is just how lovely Tina Clarke is.  She is always calm even though she has done so much work in the lead up and to keep a track of on the day.  She stops and chats, and never makes you feel stressed.

It is just so inspiring that she began this conference twelve years ago and has been able to assist so many writers to see an editor or publisher for the first time, and to learn through the various master classes how to improve their work.  Many people love the conference so much they just keep coming back.

 

Tina always acknowledges that this conference is supported by brilliant volunteers, many of them are writers, illustrators, teachers and they just love children’s literature.  This years red tshirt was just a great colour and here are some of those lovely volunteers (many of them dear friends).  They too, even though busy, had time to stop, smile and chat, as they went to their next task.  They kept people very calm going into their editors’ and agent appointments. They are experienced at just saying, ‘Make the most out of the constructive criticism you will receive in these meetings.’

 

I was so delighted to hear from the author of Helene’s current new book The Whirlpool Emily Larkin. Do check it out in book stores!  Helene and I ran into each other all day, and had lots of time to catch up.  This was slightly amazing as there were 200 delegates this year, the most ever, but still we found each other several times.  I think Peter Allert, the conference photographer has a picture of Helene and I together, so I will ask him for that later.

Helene and I don’t call each other creative sisters for nothing, but we also mingled with the rest of the conference goers.  But there is something about working together on Magic Fish Dreaming that will make that team forever special to me.  And we do have plans for future workshops and much more just because we like working together.

 

Okay so by the end of the day I was getting a little weary, after learning about trade versus educational publishing with Pamela Rushby, and  all things Social Media with Julia Ferracane, and listening to a fabulous talk by Michelle Worthington on the power, diversity and importance of picture books, and learning about Kindergo from Nadine Bates, that I began to have a conversation with Quigley, my dear little quoll.  ‘Quigley,’ I asked, ‘Do you want your own chapter book series?’  and ‘Who should star in this book with you?’

You know Jacqueline Harvey started with a picture book idea that became a series (Jacqueline’s opening session of total Question and Answer was just brilliant). Jacqueline, shared with us her own moments of joy and struggle on her writing journey.   One young member of the audience asked if she ever tired of writing about the same characters, and she answered ‘no.’  She strives to improve with every book.  She is always excited about writing the next one.  I wish I could have made the master class with Jacqueline!  Sometimes I wish conferences didn’t have parallel sessions, but I do understand why they do.  I  would have loved to go to the skype with Shaun Tan!

 

The other reason Quigley and I were having this conversation was because one of the editors I met with felt some of my ideas were chapter books, not picture books.  Hmm lots to think about.

I found the editors all gave constructive feedback,  and were friendly and encouraging, on how to improve my picture books and let me know which ones might have a better chance of being published.  I showed them Magic Fish Dreaming, and was so happy that they could see how professionally it was put together, and one editor encouraged me to write some of my picture books in the same style as Magic Fish Dreaming and maybe even make some of my picture book ideas into a collection of poems.

 

I love that one editor said, ‘Remember to follow your heart, and just take what you need from my advice and go for it, good luck. ‘ It was encouraging that they some were open to staying in touch and maybe receiving a submission despite the huge number they already receive.

The reality is that publishers receive so many more submissions than they are ever able to fully read, and as they are so busy working on books and with authors they already have, they usually read on weekends and in the evenings.  They had a really humorous and down to earth heart to heart with us at the end of the conference.  The take home message was research your publisher before submitting!  Know their back list. One editor said she doesn’t call is the ‘slush pile’, she calls it the ‘treasure trove.’  Another said, ‘Please spell my name correctly and don’t put glitter in the envelope!’

 

So that’s all from my experience of the CYA conference.

Now I will work on polishing my submissions and query letters and emailing them, and get together for coffee, with friends like Yvonne and Barbara.

Although writers and illustrators can often be solitary when in the process of creating there are many wonderful communities, like Write Links, Writing Centres, SCWIBI and online groups like Just Write For Kids, and courses through Children’s Book Academy etc. etc that between conferences can continue to nurture their talent.

Bullimba Imaginings

If you go to Bullimba

you will walk past some interesting pieces of street art.

Perhaps they will make you think of a story or poem.

Who is this lady? Where is she going?

You will see some interesting signs if you look up.

They might suggest to you a story,

an idea for an album cover or a song about Frankie and the Fox.

And then there might be some unusual things, like

shops trying to attract you with kites and balloons.

You might ask yourself

Will this sign take off in the wind?

Will children be happy when their parents stop for coffee?

If you take the time to study this street scape  you will find

much to inspire!


Who are these two friends?  Are they celebrating something important?

And then look at a bus reminding all of the Anzacs.

Brisbane remembers its Anzacs!

And maybe the street art will make you feel like

you are travelling back in time?

This journey today was all so

I could leave some Magic Fish Dreaming books at Riverbend Books,

but on the way I found much inspiration and made a photo essay

about a Magic street.

Betty Cabral Collerson: Captivated by Nature

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Betty, the eldest of six children, was born and raised in Belém, a town on the mouth of the Amazon River, Brazil. Her childhood included some amazing incidents, like when she woke up in the middle of the night with a spider monkey prancing in  her bedroom.

At sixteen, by choice,  she went to live in Rio, where she was meant to go to University, but at 19 she married an Englishmen and went to live in England. It was the start of much travelling and moving around the world, until they finally settled in Australia in 1990 with their three children.

After arriving in Australia, Betty graduated with an honours degree in psychology by Griffith University and a research PhD in Cognitive Psychology by the University of Queensland. However, her true passions are writing, photography, and above all her four gorgeous grandchildren. 

**

1. June: Tell us the story of how you came to live in Australia

Betty: We were living in Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea, from 1982 to 1990 because my ex-husband was working for Bougainville Copper, a large copper mine in the town of Panguna. However, when the armed conflict waged in Bougainville intensified around 1989, everyone had to be repatriated.

Since our two oldest children were in boarding school in Brisbane, about to start grade 10 and 12 respectively, we asked for a transfer to Australia instead of returning to the UK.

We arrived in  Australia in January 1990, and were meant to reside in Melbourne, where my ex-husband’s company was based, but because our children were attending school in Brisbane, we ended up settling there instead. Now, my two oldest children live in Melbourne, and the youngest in Amsterdam.

2. June: What themes inspire your arts practice in writing and photography Betty?

Betty: I am greatly inspired by people and the events that impact and shape our lives. Growing up by the Amazon River and rain forest has shaped my relationship with nature and fostered a deep love and respect for all animals.

For example, in the picture book Spider Monkey to the Rescue, I was inspired by a spider monkey that lived across the street from our house, in the Emilio Goeldi Museum. This monkey was an escape artist, and was the one that ended up in by bedroom one night.

In ‘Chatterbox Rosa,’ a story published in Sally Odgers’ Charms Vol. 1 Anthology, the inspiration was a pet parrot that could mimic our voices perfectly and her incessant chatter drove us all mad.

In Little Dragon’s Birth Day, I was inspired by the birth of my grandson Xavier in 2012, who was born in the year of the dragon according to the Chinese horoscope. We were all excited about his impending arrival but then on the day of his birth things got complicated and we had a big scare. The story tries to convey the excitement and also the perils of a child’s birth through the eyes of a dragons’ family.

In my photography, people, landscapes and birds feature. I am totally captivated by nature.

There is so much beauty all around but in our haste we sometimes fail to notice it. I want my photography to show the beauty that exists in simple things and everyday life.

Native Amazonians, who for thousands of years have developed ways of life that are in harmony with nature, and who believe that they’re reborn through their grandchildren, are also another major influence in my life.

3. June: Tell us about your latest book Betty?  How did this come about?  When and where will it be released?

Betty: Little Dragon’s Birth Day is currently being illustrated by Tanya Hempson, and as I mentioned it was inspired by the arrival of my grandson, Xavier. Tanya has been working on the illustrations for quite some time now, they are all hand drawn and coloured, so it takes time. We were hoping to have the book ready in time for Christmas; however, Tanya had to postpone the completion of the work due to family and other pressing commitments. I am now waiting for her to finish the illustrations before organising a launch.

In the mean time, I started another story; this one is about looking after a bonsai tree, which in many ways draws a parallel with caring for another person. It is loosely based on events that took place during the WWII, when Japanese citizens in the USA had to relinquish all their possessions and go to interment camps for the duration of the war.

Another book awaiting publication is Spider Monkey to the Rescue, which was illustrated by a Brazilian illustrator named Uoster Zielinski. The finished book is very beautiful and has a high educational content, teaching children about all these different animals from the Amazon rainforest.

A publisher in Brazil has expressed interest in publishing this book in English, Portuguese and Spanish. The publisher also owns a major book distribution business and sells to other countries in South and Central America, including Cuba and Mexico.

I met the publisher last year and he indicated that they would publish the book by September this year, but there has been so much upheaval in Brazil lately that he has put it on hold until further notice.

4. June: Have you published anything before this and can you tell us a bit about that?  What was the book? How did this come to be published?

Betty: I had Chatterbox Rosa, a story for 6-8 years old, published in 2013 in an anthology called Charms Vol. 1 (Ed. Sally Odgers). Sally Odgers, a terrific writer and editor, runs Affordable Manuscript Assessment and Workshops, and is the force behind Prints Charming, a shared imprint she administers.

Sally has published a few anthologies under the Prince Charming Book’s banner, which gives writers like myself the opportunity to see their work in print. I also had a poem – ‘The Migrant,’ published in an anthology called Wandering Thoughts (1994). This poem is about the losses experienced by those who have to migrate for whatever reasons.

In writing, poetry was my first love, but I found it difficult to write poetry in English, it is not the charms-coversame as in my first language, where I am deeply intimate with the nuances of words, so I haven’t done much in this genre since.

I have had two of my stories bought by the School Magazine this year. One, a non-fiction piece, talks about children going to school by boat in the Amazon. The other is again on the theme of migration, and the wish to teach your culture to the next generation in the family. It is a sweet story about the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter, but from the perspective of a middle-eastern family.

5. June: When and why did you take up photography Betty? What are your main photographic subjects and themes? Can you tell me about the favourite picture you have ever taken?

Betty: My father was a keen amateur photographer, and as I child I got used to being photographed, filmed, etc, from an early age. When I was about ten, he gave me my first camera, a Kodak Starmatic, I think.  I was only allowed one black and white film, perhaps twelve shots, a month, so I had to learn not to waste my photos with silly stuff.

Not surprisingly, my first photos were of nature. In the Goeldi Museum, an anthropological research institute across the road from our house, there were these huge trees called Samaumeira (Ceiba Pentandra), which can reach up to seventy meters and have an incredible root system. I photographed them from a child’s perspective, which meant that my photos showed the might of these trees growing towards the sky. The shots must have looked good because my father was quite impressed by them.

In my photography, I am totally captivated by nature, and children interacting with nature.

Birds feature strongly in my images; I love to photograph them, but I am in love with everything to do with nature. I have been captivated by macro photography and how it can show the intricacies of a flower, an insect, the fine design in the feathers on a bird, for example.

I want my photography to show the beauty that exists in everyday
life, in the simplest things, people included.

One of my favourite photos, taken a few years ago, still warms up my heart and makes me smile every time I look at it. It is of a young boy having fun on the beach with his dog.

There is much action and happiness in this shot. You can feel the magic of the bond between dog and child. I swear the dog has a smile on its face.

A Dog's Life

A Dog's Life

 

5. June: What major cultural and arts groups do you connect with and why? Can you tell me more about your connection with Writelinks?

Betty: I am a founding member of Writelinks, and attended its first meeting in the company of a still very committed group of like-minded people. It has been the best thing, and has opened the doors to the many facets of the writing and publishing world. In addition, the support and encouragement one gets from the other group members is priceless.

Writing is a lonely pursuit so the regular contact with others following the same path is most encouraging. I belong to SCBWI, Books Links and CBCA, all organisations devoted to promoting children’s literature, which are run by wonderful and committed people.

Unfortunately, as my photography passion has become all encompassing, I have not attended as many meetings and other events as I would like to, but I am still there and contribute in a small way.

Betty Collerson_Red Centre_07 (1 of 1)

This year saw me join two photography clubs in Brisbane – The Queensland Camera Group  and the Brisbane Camera Group, which are some of the oldest photography clubs in Queensland. I have enjoyed being part of these groups for similar reasons I enjoy being part of the writing scene.

I been receiving a tremendous amount of feedback for my work and have participated in local, national and international competitions. I have been receiving mostly merits and honours for the photos I submit for the clubs’ monthly competitions, which is encouraging.

I entered my first international competition this year, a non-graded event, which meant that amateurs at different levels and professional photographers were judged together. Five of my entries received an acceptance grade from the judges. Considering that in excess of 6,000 photographs were entered this was a remarkable result.

I am now preparing for an exhibition in October. It is part of a project organised by the Queensland Camera Group and 8-10 of my photos will form part of this exhibition. My project is on the issue of living with a disability, particularly mental illness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To find out more about Betty you can visit these spaces:

Betty Collerson

Travels in My Canoe

Facebook

Twitter

Flickr

 

Katrin Dreiling – Diving into her Creative World

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Katrin Dreiling, – Attic for “Music Box” winner second place CYA conference 2015

Today’s blog is an introduction to the delightful illustration work of Katrin Dreiling. I first met Katrin through Writelinks, who hold monthly meetings for writers and illustrator/ writers for children and young adults.

Katrin is one of a community of illustrators residing in Brisbane, and I, as an emerging children’s book writer who can’t draw, just love her quirky and often hilarious characters.

As writers we have a lot we can learn from illustrators; by understanding their creative processes hopefully we can write better picture books for children. But more on that another time.  Let’s dive into the creative world of Katrin.

1. June: Katrin can you introduce yourself to my blog readers:

Katrin:  Sure. Like most illustrators, I’ve always been drawing, doodling and just love being creative in any way possible. While still working as a language teacher I used to explain boring grammar problems with the help of quirky characters on the board, coming to life for my students.

When I had my own children I felt an immense rush of creative energy – all of a sudden the things I’d been drawing made sense – there was not only an audience for my art but also inspiration!

Step by step I ventured into this industry until one and a half years ago I decided to stop working as a teacher and pursue my illustration dream.

My first big and paid job was illustrating animated lectures at QUT (Queensland University of Technology). This was a fantastic and very fulfilling experience. I’m entirely self-taught so this makes me very proud.

2. June: Your latest work is Princess and the Pea – what made you want to illustrate this classic story?

Katrin: The Princess and the Pea interpretation proved to have a life of its own. I originally started work on this fairy tale just for practice purposes and to build a portfolio. I especially love the classics. I wanted it to reflect as much of my style as possible and just have fun.

It was very well received and I sold one of the originals to a very dear ‘fan’, which meant a lot to me. Later on I created a book dummy to show an editor at CYA and since then I’ve been taking orders to put it into print.

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Interior Sample of Princess and the Pea

3. June: What are your favourite things to illustrate (some illustrators like, people, some animals, and some both).

Katrin: It really depends on the day. I love to create quirky characters but if I want to get my hands messy I enjoy nothing more than creating landscapes or architecture with collages made of lots of paints and prints and papers.

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Courtesy of Peter Allert – CYA Official Photographer

4.  June: Do you think your illustrations are for children, adults, or both?

Katrin: This is a hard one. Let me just say that in the past, and still today, I get a lot of funny looks for some drawing ideas from grown ups. This has never happened with children. I think they just get me.

5.  June: What things do you do differently when illustrating for children?
 
Katrin: My work is always for children first. I try to touch their lives by either seeing things through their eyes or introducing them to classic themes. My illustrations are meant to take them by the hand and we dive together into a crazy-and beautiful-fun world.

 
6. June: Can you tell me a little about  your plans to publish Princess and the Pea and why Wybble was formed?

Katrin: Wybble was formed because I wanted my first story How to get a fat fairy flying printed and dedicated to my three children. Along the way I realised that there were many aspiring authors and illustrators and the idea evolved to offer Wybble’s services to them. This business still exists, although I’m predominantly focused on my illustrator’s career. I’m planning to publish my Princess and the Pea interpretation with Wybble.

Due to overwhelmingly positive feedback I decided to do a print run for The Princess and the Pea through Wybble Publishing. I’m in the process of trying to get around 100 pre-orders as I need to sell at least that many to justify the cost and work of setting up this book.

If you are interested, please head over to KATRIN’S Facebook page to place an order on the wall or by private message.

FACEBOOK KATRIN ART WORKS

(Editor’s note: I’ve already ordered my copy!  Thanks so much for the interview Katrin and the insight into your world. This is the beginning of a regular feature on illustrators, and writer/illustrators for children on Pearlz Dreaming. )

THROW YOUR SUPPORT BEHIND PRINCESS AND THE PEA . . . order a copy at FACEBOOK KATRIN ART WORKS