0

Win Win Win!!

Shelly and books

This week the Australian Writers’ Centre is running a competition for one lucky winner to walk away with the complete You’re series! That’s all five books! You’re One! to You’re Five! So… if you’ve got some special little ones in your life why don’t you give it a go. It’s super easy!!

Just follow the link below …

and Good Luck xxx

click here to enter

Could this be yours??? book stack

https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/win-whats-favourite-number/

0

Podcast Interview

It was with great pleasure that I took a trip down memory lane with Valerie Khoo on her wonderful podcast ‘So You Want to be a Writer.’ Valerie was keen to explore what made me want to become a writer, how I ran my ‘writing business’ and how I was eventually fortunate enough to find a publishing home for my You’re Five! series with Allen & Unwin.

19957001_10154890433778391_9044094780228070033_o-2Listen here

Valerie is the National Director of The Australian Writer’s Centre, which was where I embarked on my very first writing course: ‘Writing Picture Books’ and she was wonderfully generous in agreeing  to launch my series when they first hit the market in June this year.

IMG_6303

IMG_3556

With Valerie Khoo, speaker extraordinaire, National Director of the Australian Writers Centre, Author, Journalist and the list goes on. Basically an incredible lady!

I feel very lucky to have Valerie’s support and it was an absolute delight to chat to her on her podcast. Listen here

One of the things I forgot to mention during the interview when Valerie asked how I had spent my time when I was working towards becoming an author, was building my author platform. This blog post – my Facebook page Facebook link, my Instagram Account Insta link and my Twitter Account, Twitter link  have all taken time to establish and build. They’re all still a work in progress, but something that has definitely been valuable in finding a writing community.

1

Kids Book Review : 12 Curly Questions with author Shelly Unwin

http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2017/06/12-curly-questions-with-author-shelly.html

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 

I used to be a chronic sleepwalker. I once packed up my entire bedroom, including the pictures on the walls and the curtains. Fortunately I grew out of it!

2. What is your nickname? 

 I have a few! My school friends and sports friends call me Froggy because my maiden name was Froggatt. My brother calls me Spud, because he’s strange. And my husband calls me Twinkle.

3. What is your greatest fear?

Never having another great picture book idea again.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 

Fun, engaging, sneakily informative, with lots of rhyme and rhythm.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
 Exciting, educating, emotive, engaging, and effervescent (the last one is one my agent used to describe me – I’ve stolen it).

6. What book character would you be, and why?

Miss Petitfour. She’s this wonderful woman who flies around with the wind caught in her tablecloth and her 16 cats hanging from her coat tails. She heads off on beautiful little adventures and always comes back to a delicious cream tea. It’s a simple but whimsical life.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
1982. I would love to be five again and have just started school. I’d be playing with the water wheel in the water play area or having three-legged races in the playground. I think five is such a magical age; the whole world is starting to open up and every day is an adventure.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now? 
Why aren’t you a professional horse rider? I thought that was our plan?

9. Who is your greatest influence? 

Wow this is really hard to narrow down. I take influence from so many different aspects of life. Some of my closest friends are such wonderful parents. My husband is so smart and dedicated. And then there is the world of books. I love the sheer talent and capacity of Jacqueline Harvey, the picture book humour of Nick Bland, the brilliant rhythm and rhyme of Julia Donaldson. I could go on!

10. What/who made you start writing? 

It was an epiphany. A sudden realisation of what it was that I wanted to do. Nothing has ever felt quite so right. At that moment, I happened to be reading Incy Wincy Spider, by Keith Chapman and Jack Tickle.

11. What is your favourite word and why?

Bedtime! I love this word twice. Once when I get to say it to the kids and once when it’s mine and I get to crawl under my doona at the end of a long day.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
 Bill Bryson’s The Thunderbolt Kid. If I had to read one book forever it would need to be one that made me laugh.

Shelly Unwin grew up in a tiny English village where she was surrounded by animals, the occasional pixie fairy and her best friend Cracker, a feisty palomino pony. She was the middle child of three, but also had 11 foster siblings (not all at the same time). Shelly studied teaching and biology at university in Birmingham and moved to Australia in 2002, where she has since married an Aussie with two beautiful kids and added another two to the brood. She plays with words all week long and loves that she can call it ‘work’. For more information, see shellyunwin.com.

1

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!

 

0

CBCA Night of Notables

Last week I was so thrilled when I attended the  CBCA Night of Notables at Dymocks, George Street, Sydney, to discover that my awesome Writing Group buddy Penny Morrison had made it into the Notables. Her wonderful picture book ‘Captain Sneer The Buccaneer‘ was in the ‘Early Childhood’ category and shone out as the table was uncovered at the launch.

CBCA NSW Branch Judge, Nette Hilton talked us through the judging process and explained how a book’s setting, characterisation, plot, theme, conventions of writing, writing style, and mood, all working together, were used as criteria for selecting the Notables.

Congratulations Penny!! And all the other fabulous authors who were selected as Notables.

penny CBCA Notables

On the night we also heard from the super talented Jacqueline Harvey who talked about the challenges of getting children to read when there are so many other entertainment options available to them. She spoke of the importance of making reading an enjoyable and fun experience for them. She believes a love for reading often begins with parents who value reading and who build visits to the library, and reading aloud to kids into their busy lives.

Jacqui believes teachers also have a large role to play, and can sometimes be the first person to have an impact on their reading. “Reading needs to be front and centre and at the heart of school. School libraries have to be welcoming places where books can be touched and explored and enjoyed,” she says.  She also places a huge amount of value on school author visits, where children have the opportunity to talk to authors and talk with passion about books.

It was wonderful to hear her speak with such a passion and drive and you can see what a valuable asset she is as an ambassador of Room To Read.

5

A Big-Bang Announcement

(Warning – this post may contain silly space puns – I can’t resist)

I am so thrilled to finally announce that my non fiction book Blast Off! has been acquired by Penguin Random House and is scheduled for launch in early 2018. Thank you to my super star agent Alex Adsett for brokering the deal.

shelly-random-contract

Blast Off! as the title suggests is a picture book based on the universally popular theme of Space. It takes the reader on a fact-filled, fun-filled astro romp around the solar system. The reader boards a rocket ship and is taken to visit the eight planets, learning about each planet and what would happen if they were to get too close.

We can’t wait to release this story into the world and hope that it becomes the much loved book of many earthlings for lightyears to come!

 

 

 

 

0

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