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April Wrap Up

It has been a huge month, with so many wonderful highlights, check out the gallery below.

Running a masterclass on preparing your manuscript for publication with SCBWI ACT. Such a joyous day with so much talent in the room, exiting futures ahead!!

Speaking at the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) conference about interacting with Picture Books. If ever there was a wonderful crowd to talk with about books… Love TL’s!!!!

Catching up with old friends in Lindfield. (they’re not old, I’ve just known them for a long time 😉 )

Seeing giant sized Easter bunnies on the South Coast. They left giant sized (unwrapped) eggs too – everywhere!!


Attending the launch of the Geocon Aspen sales suit with hubby. A very grown up night 🙂

Going to the launch of This is Home collated by Jackie French and illustrated by Tania McCartney. Two such incredibly talented ladies and a book full of Australia’s most powerful poetry to share with kids. And Hip Hip Hooray, written by Tania and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft, the prettiest launch I’ve ever seen! And the children had such a wonderful time with party blowers, pass the parcel and delectable cup cakes!

Signing a giant stack of books for the Dymocks Children’s Charity. The guys at Dymocks Children’s charity do such amazing work to reach children who don’t have access to books, it is wonderful to support their efforts.

Attending the annual Dymocks Great Debate charity gala. What a night! So many laughs, so much great chat, and I came away having bid on and won 10 nights around OZ in a motorhome!!!

Speaking at the CBCA High Tea with the stars event at Penguin Random House HQ. This event was EPIC, so many great talented authors in one room – and one crazy police officer chasing a Baddie!! (oh that was me!)

and, Running a school holiday workshop with these 20 whizz kids at the Children’s Bookshop Beecroft. The bobby was at it again. We had such a joyous morning creating baddies, drawing wanted posters, writing picture books and chasing clues.

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My Social Media Playground

I’ve just signed up for a 30-day social media challenge for authors. And through the initial discussions it has occurred to me that social media can be very much likened to a playground (particularly by me – as I write children’s books, it’s a totally fitting analogy!)

So there’s:

 

The slide– You climb to the top, only to slide back down to the bottom, before starting your climb again. If you are not making a constant effort you get no-where, and even when you give it a huge push, you always end up right back at the beginning. For me, this is Instagram.

 

 

The Roundabout – Need I explain? You’re going round in circles. You’re not sure what you’re doing. You have momentum, but you’re not really sure you’re achieving anything at all. This is most likely linkedin in my world.

 

The Swings – Look at me! Look at me! Look how high I am. You can build momentum and keep it there, so long as you keep on swinging those little legs. Facebook!

The Fying Fox – We all love the flying fox right? Well the bit as we’re zipping along at breakneck speed, wind through our hair, huge cheesy grin on our faces. But then we hit the end, DOINK! And we have to get off, and run the thing all the way up the hill back to the beginning. This is Twitter, you have moments of fabulous engagement, you’re flying. Then DOINK! You run out of momentum and have to work you’re ass off to build it up again. But how much fun is the ride?!

The Phones – You know, the talky funnels. You think of something important to say and then in your biggest boldest voice you announce it into the funnel. Only to be heard, or miss-heard by the one person at the other end, who just happens to have their ear to the other funnel (your mum?). The Blog!

 

 

The Spinny Things– These I fear! I have been green in the past – I’m not being green again. They’re my no go zone. In social media, this is snap chat and pinterest. I’m not saying they’re not awesome for some people. It’s just I don’t have the stomach, especially not when I’ve already exhausted myself on all the other equipment.

 

But it’s all good fun. It’s all playing, right? Important not to take it too seriously, but maybe there are techniques to making each ride easier and more fun. And at the end of the day we all need friends at the park, if we don’t take them with us, we can make them there, and there’s lots of fun in that!!

For those interested the challenge is being run by Michelle Worthington, you can find it on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/socialmediaforcreativebusinesses/?multi_permalinks=297067150819636%2C294818521044499&notif_id=1517826002446951&notif_t=group_activity&ref=notif

If you’d like to come play with me in the playground, you can find me here:

Blog: https://shellyunwin.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=shelly%20unwin%20author%20page

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/shellyunwin/

Twitter @unwin_shelly

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shellyunwin/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Jasper Rust Book Launch

After a huge effort throughout term three and early term four, we are thrilled to launch Volume 4 of The Lyrebird Chronicles – The Curse of Jasper Rust. A novel written by 6 gifted writers at Lindfield East Public School and illustrated by 4 talented artist. It has been such a pleasure to mentor such a talented group of kids!

‘Jasper Rust is safely locked away in jail, but strange things are happening at Lyrebird public. Has Jasper put a curse on the school? Or is that just crazy talk? There must be an explanation for all this bad luck. Can Sky and Eddie work it out before everything falls apart?’cover-jpeg

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In the Room with Aussie Greatness

Gleebooks in Glebe brought together some of Australia’s finest Young Adult Writing talent last night for what turned out to be a very humorous and enjoyable panel discussion.  Melina Marchetta, Erin Gough, Will Kostakis and  Chris Morphew were chaired by Felicity Castagna and discussed a range of topics pertinent to the current YA market.

One of the most striking facts from the evening was a statistic, only 1 out of 10 Young Adult books sold in Australia is from Australia. The majority are bought in from the US and the UK. Will, who has just released his latest novel Sidekicks, commented on how great our Aussie talent is at the moment, particularly some of the contemporary voices. He said he connects to seeing the places he lives being reflected in the work. Melina, who’s work includes The Lumatere Chronicles, thought the statistic to be very sad and believes that the Young Adult novels from Australia have been very strong over the last two years. It would be interesting to know how much the block busters such as John Green’s various titles influence these numbers. It would also be interesting to know how many Australian titles are released by Australian publishers compared to the number of titles they buy in from overseas.

There was a vibrant conversation about the appeal of writing for a YA audience. Chris, who is hilarious (and who’s book, Man in the Shadows, I had to buy because I know I will belly laugh when I read it) said that he loves the YA audience because they are so up for the adventure you want to take them on, they’re open minded readers. Erin added that this audience is all embracing, and to write for them gives you a sense of freedom.

The big conversation of the evening was around covering diversity in text. Both Erin and Will’s books have characters with different sexual orientation. Erin spent about eight years trying to write the great Australian novel, she didn’t want to be pigeonholed as ‘the gay writer’ and have a limited readership. But she has found this not to be the case, people have embraced her book, Flywheel, and they’ve embraced it for more than its lesbian content.

I’ve read and enjoyed work from most of these authors and I now have a handful of new books that I can’t wait to get stuck into. Felicity, who’s own book The Incredible Here and Now received the Prime Minister’s Literature Award, was an eloquent and engaging chair. Thank you for sharing Melina, Erin, Will, Chris and Felicity, and to Gleebooks for pulling such an awesome panel together and hosting such an enjoyable evening.

 

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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