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The ‘Big’ Book Launch

Thursday night was epic! As we held an adult book launch over wine and cheese to celebrate the release of You’re One! You’re Two! You’re Three! You’re Four! and You’re Five!

The evening started with Valerie Khoo talking about the dedication, education and commitment it takes to establish a career in writing picture books. We then talked about my path to publication and I read from You’re One! which is dedicated, To Sean, my one in a million! We had a video from Katherine Battersby, who spoke about the fun she had illustrating the series, the different materials she used for the collages and how she works digitally to create the artwork for the books.

Anna McFarlane, Children’s Publisher from Allen & Unwin gave a beautiful and very moving speech about how she felt when she first received the texts for this series. We played a fun game of Heads and Tails with the crowd to win a full set of books. And then toasted the launch of the series.

On the night we also ran a social media competition to win two framed, signed prints from the book which Katherine had kindly organised. Which was won by a very excited Alex who managed to garner 108 like is just over an hour! That is some serious social media power!

We still have two major launches to go – One at Abbotsleigh ELC this Tuesday and the funky ‘numbers disco’ at East Lindfield preschool on Thursday.

But here is the show real from Thursday night….

 

The evening was such a buzz as we celebrated three years in the making for this gorgeous series.

Huge thank you’s have to go to Valerie Khoo, National Director of the Australian Writers Centre who was the most spectacular MC and launched the series on the night.

To Anna McFarlane, Publisher, Allen & Unwin for her beautiful and moving speech.

To Alex Adsett, Director of AAPS for coming to celebrate all the way from Brisbane.

To my Critique group, Picture This, for all of their help and support on the night and over the last three years.

To our fabulous illustrator Katherine Battersby, who couldn’t attend the evening as she now lives in Canada, but who sent a wonderful video.

To all the people who helped with set up, organisation and lending equipment – Nicola, Alyce, Adele, Felicity & Ross and Andrew Stevenson.

To the team at The Lindfield Learning Hub for hosting such a wonderful night.

To my dad for coming over from the UK to help out during this very hectic time.

To all the friends and family who came along to support the evening,

and of course,

To my gorgeous husband Sean, for the years of believing in me and supporting me in this exciting venture – You’re The Best!

 

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Launch Time

It’s been a distant promise for so long, and all of a sudden launch time is upon us.

I have organised a multitude of launches, including this one for everyone who would like to join the fun welcoming these books to the world at The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft. I’d love to see you at this launch if you can make it. Please make sure you come and say hi!

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The inside word from Penguin, Random and Panterra

Saturday was the highlight of the Southerland Shire Writers calendar with the Writers Unleashed Festival providing the opportunity to hear from editors from various publishing houses. The event concluded with the Editor panel where we heard from:

  • Heather Curdie, Children’s at Penguin.
  • Beverley Cousins Adult Fiction Random House.
  • Zoe Walton, Children’s at Random House, and
  • James Read YA and Adult, Pantera Press.

Heather highlighted her tips and recommendations for manuscript submissions. She said that first and foremost she comes to a manuscript as a reader, looking to be engaged and entertained. She follows no firm rules and tries to clear her mind of preconceived ideas. But what it must have is;

  • Quality writing
  • A great voice (must be distinctive and original)
  • Great characterisation (characters must come to life on the page)
  • Compelling plot
  • Engaging first few chapters (for children’s books this is so important, they won’t persevere if they are not pulled into the story in the first couple of chapters)
  • A really satisfying conclusion

She’s currently looking for: Contemporary YA with a strong male protagonist & High quality stand alone Junior Fiction, that’s fun and intelligent.

Beverley spoke about what makes a manuscript publishable.

Things that are taken into consideration when looking at a manuscript they like;

  • Balance of the list – do they need more or less historical fiction at that time, do they already have too many rural fiction pieces on the list etc.
  • Profit potential – is the book commercially viable
  • Publishability of the book.

It is a difficult balance because each book is a work of art, but it needs to make a profit. So there is no easy answer.

She looks for Quality;

  • Well written
  • Compelling story
  • Ability to reach a wide audience

For commercial fiction, here is her advice:

  • Plot is key
  • They like a novel that promotes debate
  • The author has a clear idea of what the novel is about and it is something that a large number of people would want to read about.
  • Don’t go overboard describing everything you have researched.
  • Don’t overload with stage management.
  • Don’t over explain characters emotions.
  • Everything on the page should have a reason for being there and drive the story forward.
  • Make sure it is well edited before submitting.

Zoe used examples of books that they have recently published to highlight what they look for.

Starting with her best selling Rangers Apprentice series. She noted that whilst it was not an original concept John brought a really great sense of humour to his writing which kids love. He uses fantasy without magic which is unusual and makes his characters have to work hard for their success.

Next she looked at Alice Miranda. She said it is Jacqueline that makes these books special, she really understands and engages with her fans, and she works really hard for her books.

Lulu Bell was next, of Belinda she said that she really knows her market and knows what appeals to her readers. She is a great example of write what you know. Belinda’s dad is a vet and so is Lulu Bell’s in her stories.

Samuri verses Ninja, Here the title says it all. It is a high concept book with wide appeal.

Moving on to her Young Adult books she said that what makes a story stand out from the crowd is an original voice.

Are You Seeing Me? She couldn’t stop thinking about the characters in the story after she’d read it, which compelled her to acquire it.

 

James said that Pantera are a boutique press and they like to take on debut authors and nurture them, their writing and their careers. They are VERY unique in the publishing industry in that they pride themselves on a fast turnaround time. Getting back to authors within 3 weeks. Yes 3 weeks!!!! But you do need to follow their submission guidelines very closely.

They consider all types of fiction from Young Adult upwards and they are currently looking for commercial womans fiction. Ideally the next The Devil Wears Prada. Their submission guidelines are on their website https://www.panterapress.com.au/submit-your-manuscript

 

 

 

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Have you got an illustrator? Yessss!!!

It’s the question I have been asked over and over for the last 6 months and been dying to divulge the answer to. I can finally tell the world, with so much excitement, that the brilliantly talented Katherine Battersby, Author/Illustrator of the awesome Squish Rabbit series has agreed to illustrate the series. My fabulous publisher, Anna McFarlane suggested Katherine to me back in May and from that moment my manuscripts took on a whole new life in my imagination. I simply cannot wait to see Katherine’s imaginings for this series.

The series is scheduled for release in May 2017. It feels like a long way off, but given how quickly the last year has gone, I know it will be upon us in no time.

If you’re not familiar with Squish Rabbit, do yourself a favour and hunt out these gorgeous books, you cannot fail to fall in love with Squish!

Squish pics

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Maurice Saxby Lecture

Last night I navigated my way through the maze of Sydney University campus to attend the Maurice Saxby Lecture. This year’s lecture was delivered by the very accomplished Libby Gleeson. After a moment to reflect on the life, work and achievement of the wonderful Maurice Saxby, Libby went on to discuss the topic of STORY. Leading with a quote from Maurice himself. ‘We are all largely governed by and at the same time enriched by story.’

Libby spoke on how our lives are saturated by story, and how the existence of story in every Age and Culture is indisputable. It penetrates every corner of the Earth. It is used by Societies to bind communities, for example the Bible, a collection of stories used to guide Christianity. Folk tales, passed down through the generations used to pass on instructions of how to live in their world, all neatly wrapped up in story.

Libby talked about the magic of story and the ability of story to transport us to unknown places and times, to capture our imagination and to transport us to other realms. Story has the ability to evoke such strong reactions. And as writers we have the opportunity to take people to places they would never otherwise experience, what a joyful privilege that is!

Thank you to the NSW CBCA and Libby Gleeson and for a fabulous evening.

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The beginning of the Christmas festivities already!?

We had a wonderful evening at the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Northern Sub Branch Christmas Dinner last night. It was great to listen to the incredibly talented Peter Carnarvas as he told us about his writing journey. He also played a couple of little songs on his ukulele and drew a quick picture of his George character from Oliver and George, which then went into the silent auction. So much talent. Peter then went on to signing books that people had bought that evening, and I wondered if he might be suffering from an acute bout  of signusitis today after signing so many? (sorry! I blame my dad for my silly sense of humour) I for one brought home six signed books! And he drew a little picture in each one – I love it when author/illustrators do that!

Peter Carnarvas

We also heard from Paul McDonald of The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft. He talked about the age of visual literacy in which we find ourselves. He commented that Jessica’s Box by Peter Carnarvas is a great example of this. Schools are also pushing for interactive books and he recommended ‘Mix it up,’ by Herve Tullet, who also wrote ‘Press Here,’ both fantastic books for young children. For middle grade readers he recommended ‘Awful Auntie,’ by David Walliams, it’s apparently hilarious. And his suggested read for adult book clubs was ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,’ It has a major twist around page 70 and from there the book takes off and you can’t help but want to talk about it. It will be my recommendation to my book club this month!

Wendy Blaxland also launched her beautiful book, The Christmas Rose by Walker Books. She also spoke passionately about Marion Street Theatre for Young People, which has been thrown a lifeline by council, but still needs much public support to ensure it is an ongoing resource for the community. My stepson Jack participates in the weekly class for children with an intellectual disability and he absolutely loves it. We also love the opportunity to see him perform. I still smile when I think back to last years performance at the Concourse Theatre Chatswood, when Jack took about two minutes to walk to the back of the stage to hang a pretend picture, because he needed a real wall for his pretend picture – a beautiful moment J

It was a great night. It was lovely to catch up with so many warm, generous and gifted friends, and great to celebrate everyone’s successes for the year. But I still can’t believe we’re celebrating Christmas at the beginning of November!

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Bringing Characters to Life

On Saturday I attended the 8th annual Shire Writers’ Festival. It was a great event with some truly inspiring speakers.

PM Newton spoke on ‘Writing is Re-writing’. The two take aways for me from this session were:

Make sure any extra characters in the book have a ‘real’ place and know them well. They shouldn’t just be there as devices to move the plot along.

and

In scenes ‘In late and out early,’ Think about what is important in the scene, what is the turning point and keep it tight around that point.

Jaclyn Moriarty spoke on ‘Create that Character.’ She gave us a fascinating insight into Isaac newton’s character. The big take aways were:

Unmask characters gradually, piece by piece, so that the reader gets to know them gradually in the same way that we would get to know someone in real life.

and

Give characters secrets, things that the world doesn’t know about them. Aspects of the characters childhood can really bring authenticity to a character, as can describing a characters bedroom furnishings or house.

Kylie Fornasier spoke on ‘History to the Page.’ The take away from this session, was that historical fiction requires a huge amount of research, but at some point you have to stop reading and start writing. It was also interesting to learn that all libraries can do inter-library loans, so you can get your library to order a book for you from any library in Australia – Good to know, Thanks Kylie!!