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.

Freedom For Every Child

Magic Fish Dreaming

From the Perkins Family Archive

I wish for every child in the world, freedom from war, freedom from hunger, free education, and someone who cares for them and loves to read them poetry.

Thanks so much to the following people for their much valued and precious feedback on Magic Fish Dreaming.

Thank you to the Children’s Book Academy for their recent interview.

Thank you to the Sandcliffe Writers Festival for giving me a voice. And everyone who stopped to look at my book and those of other presenters on the table at the Bracken Ridge Library.

All the people who helped make this book delight in knowing how young readers are responding to the art and the stories and I do pass your messages on to Helene Magisson our illustrator as well.

It gives me hope!

I have begun work in earnest on a sequel to Magic Fish Dreaming.  …

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Pacing Yourself – When Creatives Get Busy

So this has been a week of longing to creatively write and being busy with so many other tasks.

I have the longing of this girl staring into the banana field.  My finished novel and books are somewhere in the distance.  But now I need to use that longing to walk into that path and continue, and to keep searching for pockets of time to write.

I managed to figure out a new approach to a tricky picture book idea and write half of it down.  Then another task demanded I do it.

I gave myself one session on my novel, but longed for more.  But Sunday is looking good to continue on this.  The novel is ticking away in my head even though I am not writing it.

I kept editing a piece written for my brother’s memory.  A writer generously gave me the tools to find the most moving and emotional way to write this story.  Sometimes writing can take a lot out of you.  I understand now why my memoir (which I have done a lot of work on) needed more time.  I think I now know the way to write it, although I don’t have time for it just now.  I realise it is going to be a roller coaster ride to write, so I will have to brace myself for that one.

Bill
My brother

I know that Sunday writing session is going to be great!  But I want to build up my writing sessions to be more regular and give them some priority.

I am working on a project which is shaping up to be interesting and helpful to others, and just have to bring together the whole proposal and find the funding.  I will allocate some time to it in my work diary.  I just love it, and hope others will as well.  The team for this project are just wonderful and I look forward to sharing our plan with you.  I do love collaborating.

I’ve had some wonderful guests from the Sandcliffe Writing Festival on the blog, and tomorrow I am on a panel.  Doing some more rehearsal for it today!

I am loving the energy these blog  visitors bring and am delighted they are happy to be in this space, and am set to have more of them.

It has been empowering to connect with many other poets for children.  Two so far have guested on the blog.

I just found out one of my childhood friends will be in the Sandcliffe Writing Festival audience.  So excited about catching up with her and it will help having her and a few other people I know there and know some of the journey until now.

Those who are there at the beginning often understand just how hard you have worked, and how many obstacles you have had to achieve your dreams.

I love guest blogs,  interviews, and connecting to other creatives, and so a huge highlight for me was meeting Melissa Lucashenko who I had heard so much about for so long.

I’ve completed some more reading for a spirituality and arts course (including writing) online and journalled some poetry ideas (again really keen to do more work on this once this week is over).  I have a month to do a creative piece for my assessment for that.  Thank you creative journal, as I know there is something in you that I can develop now.  Why do study when I have so much else to do?  The course has enriched my creative practice and given me a new found sense of purpose and direction.

I wrote one blog this week,  inspired by a conversation with a writing friend about the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.  I think I will come back to this topic again, as it intrigues me my grandfather and other relatives possibly were there for that time in Australian history.  I wrote a photo essay about visiting Bullimba to drop off some books.  Sometimes just doing fun things like this give me more energy.

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On top of this is the usual balancing with life, and stopping to discuss philosophy with my daughter in the kitchen, and movies with one son, and life in general with my eldest who is a third year uni student, as well as meet with my children’s teachers and thank them for the work they are doing to educate my children. Too often as a society we don’t thank teachers, we choose to ignore the wonderful work so many of them do.  Being married to a great teacher makes me appreciate their role so much.  He works so hard, and cares so much about his students that he inspires me every day.

I do wish I had a bit more time to catch up with friends, but there have been a few social media and email chats, especially to people understanding where I am this present moment in the creative and life journey.  I love that we all find a bit of time to support each other, even if it is virtually a midnight email or a catch up when we are selling our books outside a shop.

Dear hubby is a great sounding board.  Some times writing puzzles are worked out when we are just having a quiet chat.  Something about vocalising to him some things troubling me with a plot, or a character helps the problems unravel. I am appreciative that he seems to help by just listening.

As for Book News

There’s been lots of great news, like a review in Australian’s Children’s Poetry.

Magic Fish Dreaming has arrived at a new book shop, Chapter in Yeppoon. (They aren’t open yet, but Magic Fish Dreaming is there for opening day!)  The book is now in ten Queensland bookshops.

I received a replenishment order for Riverbend Books, who had sold out, and also another library order from Peter Pal.  Hoping so much that sales continue to rise.

The new shops stocking the book love it!  Hope their customers do too.

I’ve been asking some successful indie authors for tips on how they streamline their distribution and printing, and save money.  They are just wonderfully generous in sharing this information.  Many of them are just so good at what they do and I hope to learn from them.

Contemplation so vital for the creative

Looking for Balance

As for the future, I am working hard to pace myself and find balance.  I don’t want to be skit, skatting, and not attending to my writing.  I want to find a rythmn to my creative day and somehow maintain it.

I want to plan far enough ahead to prepare well, and to have my bigger pockets of creative writing time.

I want to limit more of my time on social media, as once in there I just follow so many trails, of interesting things to look at and read, and I need less of that and more time writing!  True it is space of finding opportunity, and for that I am grateful, and true it does make me less lonely on writing days.

Maybe I need to be more lonely until the book is finished!

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Meeting Melissa – Highlight of the Week.

With perseverance I hope to get there.  Ah the life, work balance that dedicated parents, and peace seekers, seek.  True my children are teenagers now, but I like to be there for my family, community, students, and my spiritual self as well.

All the best to my friends, extended family, and readers seeking their balance in life. I like writing you letters on my blog as it allows me to reflect on what I can do to improve in my life journey.  It also lets you know why sometimes  I take so long to call, email, phone or visit.

I haven’t forgotten you but am just trying to find a balance and pace to fit everything together, in some cohesive way.  Somewhere amongst all the writing, parenting, community, connecting, there is the writing of the eternal spirit onto mortal paper.

Keep well and all the best if you too are striving for balance.

And thanks to all my understanding friends, whose kindness and care, gives me the courage to keep on with this quest for balance, and to write to the very best of my ability for the very best of reasons.

June

Presenting at Sandcliffe Festival: June’s Preparations

Last year when I was running my kickstarter campaign I came across the Sandcliffe Writing festival whilst online, and it looked kind of cool because it was concerned with diversity and was in Brisbane.

I emailed them to let them know I thought their festival looked great and to say I had a book coming out,  Magic Fish Dreaming, would they be interested in my participation.

I promptly forgot all about it, and then early this year an email from the lovely Adele Moy arrived, with a phone number and asking me to ring her about the Festival, she apologised for taking so long to get back to me.

I phoned Adele as she requested and had the most beautiful conversation about diversity, life, writing, family and my book which went much longer than I think we both expected, and next thing I know I am on a panel to tell my unique story.

I met Adele for the first time in person at the Insights of an Outsider Panel last week, and felt like I had known her for years.  She greeted me with such friendliness and warmth.  Thanks for that Adele.

I am going to give you three photographic hints about my presentation on Saturday, and well you will have to attend to find out fully what this all means.  I am going to share the story of  my main inspirations, and the things that compelled me to write.

My favourite literary character, Mma Ramotswe, in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels, by Alexander McCall Smith, because she is curious, caring and looks for the most just resolution to any situation. She also knows a story for almost every situation.

Now I don’t have to tell you to go to any links really because this is my main blog home and if you are reading this well you are here.  But I can also be found on twitter, instagram and facebook.

My website is HERE

So if you want to catch my very first festival appearance for Magic Fish Dreaming

Unique Journeys

April 29th commencing 9am

Bracken Ridge Library, 77 Bracken St, Bracken Ridge

Join authors Duncan Richardson, June Perkins, and Michael Aird as they talk about their inspiration  and ideas and what compels them on their creative journey, where they are today, and where they hope to be in the future.

A huge thankyou to the Sandcliffe Writers Festival Organisers for giving me the opportunity to share the story of why I love writing so much and how I set about becoming an author! I also look forward to the literary dinner with Matthew Condon on Friday and the panel following ours (and the lunch!) and catching up with Lauren Daniels.

PLEASE NOTE FOR SALE

 I will be selling copies of Magic Fish Dreaming, $18 each and signing them at the event.

Please bring cash, exact change if you can is much appreciated.

For $25 in total you can receive a custom printed calico bag  along with your book.

Meet the Sandcliffe Writers Festival Presenters: Lauren Daniels

Lauren Daniels has worked in publishing since ’92 with Ziff-Davis in Boston. In ’99, she completed her MFA and moved to Australia where she has edited 70 titles of fiction/non-fiction for the literary publisher, IP, among others, and supports authors who seek publication both here and overseas.

Since winning the Newport Poetry Contest in ’87, Lauren has published work in various international periodicals. The manuscript for her novel, The Serpent’s Wake: A Fairy Tale for the Bitten shortlisted with the 2016 Half the World Literati Award in Singapore and her essay, ‘Maternal Lines’ appears in Australia’s Antic Literary Magazine this year.

Lauren served on the Board for the Erica Bell Foundation in Hobart and as a Youth Arts Queensland mentor. She taught writing at UQ and TAFE and directs the Brisbane Writers Workshop.

1.Have you been to the Sandcliffe Festival Before?

This is my first time and the line-up is wonderful. The dinners and panels are a tremendous Queensland roll call.

2.What are you looking forward to and how did you become involved in it this year?

First, I’m excited for the collage of viewpoints. The topics are rich and provocative across the schedule. Late last year, I chaired the Alice Award panel with Shelley Davidow, Kris Olsson and M.K. Hume for the Society of Women Writers Queensland and Brisbane Square Library. The topic was gender bias in the publishing industry and I have to hand it to the Society: they have brilliant events and know how to gather our talent.

3. What is the main focus of what you will be speaking about at the festival (A short sneak peek )

I’m chairing the event at the Brisbane Square Library with Veny Armanno and Melissa Lucashenko for ‘Insights of an Outsider’; a theme that underscores much of their literary work and serves up as a familiar perspective for writers across the globe.

For ‘Write of Passage’, Susan Johnson, Jacqueline Henry and I will be discussing the power of language as a societal catharsis and catalyst. That is both an immensely personal and vastly universal topic and I’m excited to see where it will go.

4. If you could choose to a favourite literary character, who would you be and why?

A tough question, considering all of my favourites are mired in conflict and usually end in tragedy. Still, I’m a New Englander called due south, so call me Ishmael. The consummate writer—though he himself doesn’t write a word—observes everything meticulously and disappears into the action to offer as objective a vision as possible. Ishmael survives an alien, dangerous world captained by a madman and befriends those worth befriending, especially Queequeg. His wisdom is hard-earned as it shapes every page of Moby Dick. There are so many potent one-liners like this one: ‘Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian’, sharp as scrimshaw carved from a sperm whale’s tooth.

To find out more Lauren Daniels visit the following links

www.ledaniels.com

www.brisbanewriters.com

First Sandcliffe event. ‘Insights of an Outsider’

Sunday 23rd April,

11am – 12pm

Brisbane Square Library, 266 George St. Brisbane

Panel Session: Featuring Melissa Lucashenko, Veny Armanno and Lauren Daniels

Organised by Society of Women Writers QLD and funded by Lord Mayor’s Writers in Residence program.

Free entry, but library would appreciate bookings so they have some idea of numbers. Please ph: library on 3403 4166.

Dymocks Books will be there selling author’s works

For more information on the festival visit FACEBOOK