The Things You Learn About Yourself, When You Least Expect It.

Hello again fellow Children’s Writers and Friends,

First I must apologise, for although I had a semi pre-written post ready to go a day or two after KidLitVic 2018, I didn’t end up posting anything despite my promises to do so. I’m sorry. I have two reasons for this, one simple and the other a complex and surprising discovery about myself as a writer. The first was simply that I became unwell with a nasty cold after the conference. As I was there with my husband for a few days after KLV 2018, my focus was on being mobile and upbeat as we enjoyed the sights of Melbourne and explored his family history in nearby Malvern, and I genuinely forgot I had the post three quarters ready, or I would have posted regardless of feeling poorly. I may well post about the week and especially the Scribbles Masterclass on Voice and Characterisation with Jen Storer at a later stage, but for now, my surprising self discoveries.

Many writers, myself included are introverts and can find occasions where being social is necessary, difficult and daunting. What I have found though is that my introversion takes an interesting turn when there are larger numbers of people. I have always been shy, but believed that when I was able to be knowledgeable, interested in the topic of conversation and not totally lost (as in the days when I attended work functions when my husband worked for a financial company) I would be fine. At the pre-conference dinner beautifully organised by Tabitha Page, sitting at a table of no more than 15 people, I chatted away quite happily and relished the opportunity to meet and reacquaint myself with writers I had talked to online or at courses. The day after the conference at Lucinda Gifford’s delightful Dogasaurus Book Launch, and the impromptu lunch with four other writers and one confident and intelligent young boy (Catherine M’s) I was again readily able to chat with Heather Gallagher about her (and next year my own) upcoming launches and about the industry at lunch with the others. So despite being an introvert I am not completely socially inept and can sometimes even ‘talk the leg off a chair’ as the old saying goes.

Place me however, in a situation where there are 200+ people, even writerly people and you have an instant clam. I did fight it and managed to make even brief conversation with the many people who recognised me from my Facebook thumbnail picture. Being one of the few non Anglo Saxon members of many of the groups I belong to and with my somewhat unusual name I am usually fairly easily recognised even when I have my hair done, which I didn’t. Many other people did though, making several virtually unrecognisable. This too added to my discomfit and so even when I wanted to fight the clam effect, I didn’t always have a point of reference to begin a conversation without possibly offending someone I should know. If I ignored or did not recognise you or chat as you expected, please forgive me…. I’m so much better with the written word. And you were obviously killing it in the looks department!

I attended the smaller CKT Writers Festival early this year and have attended both the Writers Unleashed and the Writing NSW Kids and YA Festival ( previously NSWW Kids and YA Festival) in the past and did not experience these issues or at least not to anywhere near the same degree. The energy level built up during the anticipation period remained, if indeed the anticipation level was anywhere near the level of the bigger conference to begin with. I think it wise to mention here, that I had heard so many good things about KLV 2017 that the minute I heard tickets would be on sale, I put a reminder in my calendar. I excused myself from family on booking night and was one of the first to book, I know this as it only took about five minutes, tops. The anticipation only built as I joined in the KidLitVic Insider Group conversations and with members of another online group, The Duck Pond.

Here’s my other, no so surprising learning about myself, I really love the anticipation, so much so that it can even affect my experience of the real event. This is where I have to say, I couldn’t fault the event. It was planned, organised and executed with professionalism and precision that would rival that of Special Forces soldiers. My top three highlights of KidLitVic 2018, would have to be, firstly the super talented and super humble, Leigh Hobbs who spoke of his trials on the road to publication, and encouraged us to carry on! The illustrator portfolios and the opportunity for any and all of us to view the work of these incredibly talented artists through the day was just a wonderful experience. Finally, despite the fact my cold had taken hold of me by now, the relaxed, less supercharged atmosphere of the cocktail party as a way to round off the event was another highlight for me, despite its social nature, possibly because I no longer had to meet anyone new by then or because they tended to be small group conversations.

So, fellow travellers, attend festivals, conferences, courses, launches and as many literary events as you want and your budget allows, but be aware of which ones suit your personality best and be aware that something you’ve long waited for may provide an experience you hadn’t expected, simply because of who you are. That way you at least, will be prepared.

Farewell fellow travellers,

Enjoy the quest,

Journeygirl

PS This is not new news, however, if any of you are a KidLit writer and are unaware, Scribble Booksis now open for submissions of Picture Books, but only for the month of June. So be quick, polish and submit and good luck!

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Posted in Networking, Professionalism, Road to Publication, Submitting For Publication, Writing Conferences, Writing Groups | 2 Comments

Journeygirl’s Road to Publication- Part Two

Hello fellow Children’s Writers and Friends,

Oh how time flies. I do apologise that this post is late, however, my reason does fit in perfectly with the one of the subjects of this post. I have been focussed on preparations for the KidLitVic Conference at the end of this week, both for myself and my adult children who will be staying home while husband, Daryl and I have an extended stay in Victoria. (Photos and report of Conference to follow.)

As promised today’s post continues the story of my journey to publication of my first Picture Book, The Sorrowful Star (working title) answering the final two questions posed last month. What is the importance of Networking? and What’s been happening since I signed my contract?

What is the importance of Networking?

If you are an aspiring or emerging author like me, I cannot state highly enough the importance of networking. I think my story and the way time brought Kathy Creamer back into my life in a different role, depicts clearly how networking can help an author. In a lot of ways it was pure serendipity, however, had I not first found Creative Kids Tales (via internet search- writing for children in Australia, I had previously found many US sites) and put myself and my story out there seeking assistance to polish it, I probably would have remained nothing more than a name to Kathy Creamer and LPDB. This way she knew me a little and more importantly my work.

The benefits of networking do not end there for me (or you) by any means. As a result of those early days of learning about the Australian Children’s Writing industry, I discovered the world of Aussie KidLit and its people, places and events. I found the So You Want to Be a Writer Podcast, Q and Q Friday’s on You Tube which led to The Duck Pond on Facebook. I signed up to The Scribbles Course and private Facebook group and through them was invited to join, Just Write For Kids, The 52 Week Picture Book Challenge and Aussies Writing for Children. I heard of events at the CBCA, Sydney Writer’s Festival, SCBWI, Pinerolo, the list goes on. This followed hearing of The Kids and Young Adults Festival at The New South Wales Writers’ Centre and CYA Conference and their competition again through Creative Kids Tales so ably run by Georgie Donaghey.

It was at these that I heard about BuzzWords and Pass it On, also where I met Aleesah Darlison who now runs Greenleaf Press and I could go on and on, in never ending increasing circles because the industry is actually quite small and soon you get to know many members, who know other members, who may be authors, illustrators, editors, or know editors or…. you get the picture. In some ways the road is endless, but because it is full of intersecting streets, lanes, arcades and other lovely nooks and crannies, you never know who will pop up where and when, and what they may say about you to someone else.

This brings me to an important point, when dealing with anyone in this industry (or out of it really) certainly be yourself, but be your best self. Be polite, thoughtful, treat people kindly and understand we all have good and bad days so try not to be judgemental, and forgive, most especially yourself. We writers tend to be toughest on ourselves. Try not to, but if you find you are, be sure to mention it to another KidLit writer and I can guarantee these wonderful people will sympathise with you and help you see it from a different, more positive perspective.

So on a different note, What’s been happening since I signed my contract?

Well life mainly. Work, family, tutoring, assisting at church, writing, same ol’ same ol’. However, occasionally the delightful little orange Favourites star pops up in my emails and I see the names Little Pink Dog Books or Peter Creamer or Margaret Dewar (my illustrator). You can bet I don’t waste time opening those. So far, they have pretty much involved a discussion of what will be required of Margaret and I. In my case, this is mainly providing a photo or two, which I’m having professionally done soon, and (lucky for me, as I know this isn’t always the case) providing my input on Margaret’s proposed illustrations. I dare say, it won’t be for all of them.

In Margaret’s case there is a lot more required including tweaking or completely changing a character or scene based on what Peter, Kathy and yes, even little old me sometimes, have to say. Margaret, clearly a very talented illustrator, always rises to the challenge and I cannot wait till October next year (all going well) when I know I’ll be sharing something truly magical and beautiful with you all.

Farewell fellow travellers, but hopefully not for long,

Savour the quest,

Journeygirl

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