From Hook to Book

Archive for the category “Competitions”

Young Writers Competitions and Opportunities

Calling all young writers, playwrights and poets!  Lots of regular and new young writers’ competitions and opportunities have opened up. Some are closing soon.

So flex those writing muscles and get your entries in fast. (Only if they’ve been buffed and polished and proofed, of course.) You’ll find further details and some great new resources on my Young Writers’ Resources page, such as details of two Katharine Susannah Prichard residential places in WA, The John Marsden and Hachette Australia and Scribe Non-fiction Prizes, plus lots more comp details, events and happenings.

All fabulous opportunities to get your writing in front of judges, publishers and selection panels and there’s some not insignificant cash prizes on offer too.

So get those stories and poems in fast for the comps closing soon.

Some tips for success:

  • Follow submission guidelines (exactly)
  • Redraft, redraft, redraft
  • Read your work aloud to pick up jars and jolts and to check for rhythm
  • Vary your sentence structure
  • Be strenuous at spell-checking and proofreading
  • Give your work a few weeks “air time” (you’ll pick up things you never noticed when you go back to it after a break)
  • Flick off that fear goblin nagging on your shoulder. If you’ve put in the work – it’s ready. Repeat – flick and submit.

If you know of any writing opportunities or competitions for young writers, not listed on the YWR page, I’d love you to leave me the details in a comment or email me the link. Thnx. And Good luck!

The Value of Conferences – CYA

CYA dinnerI can’t believe it’s been weeks since I attended the fantastic CYA Conference in Brisbane. I’ve been head-down ever since, following up on manuscript advice received during my two publisher assessment sessions and giving social media a narrow gaze.CYA 2016

Chris Bell CYA 2016 Highly CommendedI was really excited in the weeks prior to the conference to be shortlisted in the 2016 CYA Writing and Illustrating Competition – published author category. It was fantastic that I was already booked in to attend the conference and so I was there to receive a “Highly Commended” award for my middle-grade eco-fic novel Strange Creatures from the judge, Scholastic Australia publisher, Clare Hallifax. I was extra pleased with my HC as there was only one overall winner (congratulations Facebook buddy, Karen Collum), but no placings in this highly competitive category.

It was a great boost to see this 19000-word story that I wrote several years ago with the intention of making it book one in a trilogy appreciated and acknowledged. I’ve always loved the characters and the setting and thought I had not perhaps given it fair exposure at the time as it always seemed an awkward word-count. So I worked on it some more and entered it into CYA and it was really terrific to see it awarded in the competition. I look forward to reading the initial judging reports, which give the added bonus of feedback to entrants in the CYA competition.CYA 2016 Highly commended

During the conference I had two really positive and informative meetings with publishers regarding my YA historical novel and received some great advice. 1. Begin in setting and introduce character’s day-to-day life 2. Use less language of the time.

The first suggestion initially surprised me because I’d always been taught – in kid lit – begin with action. But during the conversations (which offered very similar advice) I came to realise that, with my character’s world and time being quite foreign to the reader, to begin in drama gave the reader no chance to come to know or care about the characters before the initial dramatic interaction and danger. Invaluable advice and well worth paying for. This is one the value of critique and manuscript assessment sessions offered to attendees of conferences and seminars.

Both publishers are keen to see the reworked manuscript, so it’s back to work for me.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Peter Allert

A New Friend for Marmalade – Alison Reynolds

Today I welcome international best-selling author, wonderful writer and friend, Alison Reynolds to celebrate the launch of her, and very talented illustrator, Heath McKenzie’s newest picture book A New Friend for Marmalade.

Alison Pith Helmet

A New Friend for Marmalade is the sequel to Alison and Heath’s first collaboration, A Year with Marmalade, which has sold more than a whopping 30,000 copies and is being released in the USA by publisher Simon and Schuster in July. Alison is also the multi-talented, best selling author of the Ranger in Danger, Why I love and Baby Talk series as well as the gorgeous picture book The Littlest Bushranger. 

Hi Alison,

Welcome back to From Hook to Book. Thank you for stopping by on the very first day of your blog tour. Warmest congratulations to both you and Heath on the launch of A New Friend for Marmalade, your gorgeous new Marmalade adventure.

Thanks for the invite, Chris. I love reading From Hook to Book, so very nice to be here.

A Friend for Marmalade_COVER_PB copy

Ella, Maddy and Marmalade are best friends. Then one day everything changes when Toby, the boy from across the road wants to play with them. This gentle story is about accepting people, even when they do things a little differently from you. And it all revolves around a very special little cat named Marmalade.

 

Alison, I’m so in awe of how in A Year with Marmalade you manage to portray the complexity of how we are all different and play differently, yet can play together. Can you explain the thought process or process of elimination it takes for a picture book author to boil down such complexity to a minimum of words that expresses it so simply and beautifully?

I actually wrote this by writing a list of my thoughts about the two friends from A Year with Marmalade, and a new annoying boy  who wants to be friends, but doesn’t understand how to make friends.

I  jotted down random thoughts, for instance Toby, the new boy, annoys the girls so I thought of what he could do to annoy them without meaning to be annoying. I didn’t actually worry about the storyline, but kept writing down images and thinking what if? Eventually, a story emerged. I eliminated a lot of the extraneous words  and ideas that didn’t further the main narrative. There’s usually no room for going off on a tangent in a picture book. I always have to remember that simple is good, especially when you’re dealing with complex issues.

A Friend for Marmalade_Internals_PB_Page_06 copyA New Friend for Marmalade is really as much about the girls’ acceptance of a new friend too. There’s a significant, but subtly shown, change going on when the girls must not only share their space and creative play, but their beloved cat Marmalade too. There’s a lot going on. A lot of tolerance required by the girls for the new boy who clumsily upsets their games and yet still wins over the affection of Marmalade. As the writer, what came first for you the theme or the story?

This book started with the theme. The publisher suggested the sequel be about friendship and accepting other people even when they are different to you. I imagined an exuberant boy, Toby, who wants to be liked and make friends with Ella, Maddy and Marmalade. Astute Marmalade can see that Toby is a good friend, although he is very different from him. It takes the girls a little longer to realise this, but eventually they do. I can imagine how irritating the girls found it that when they were trying to give Toby “the cold shoulder” and Marmalade loved Toby. I really enjoyed writing that strand.

The resolution in the story got me to thinking and wondering: Is it the commonality of the childrens’ shared concern/common goal to rescue Marmalade that unites them in friendship as much as tolerance? Do you think this is a strategy that schools and those working with children might employ to bring together warring factions or isolated children – a common goal or concern?

I think by the resolution, the girls were beginning to soften towards Toby. They had the example of how much Marmalade liked Toby, suggesting that Toby was really a nice person. I do believe that sharing a common goal unites people. And the process of working together allows you to get to know another person better and most times you end up liking them.

I do think a shared concern or common goal can be used to bring together warring factions or isolated children. Often people don’t like somebody they regard as being the “Other” but once they are in a situation to really know them, their feelings can change. I don’t think that children are often given the skills to befriend somebody who is different to them. They can feel awkward and scared of doing the wrong thing and hurting the other person’s feelings. It’s easier in a sense to isolate that person. I can remember being scared of children who were different when I was little. I’m not sure why looking back.  I never bullied anybody, but I probably kept away from children who were perceived as different.  I didn’t know what to do. In this book I’m trying to show that if you accept that not everybody is the same, that can lead to different, special friendships. Toby’s brilliant idea to use the cape not only acts as a solution to Marmalade’s problem drawing the children together, but also provides the children with an excuse to be together and develop a friendship. I always felt they all wanted to be friends, but only Marmalade knew how to make a new friend.

Have you experienced a “Toby” in your life, Alison? If yes, what swung your affection his or her way?

I’ve met a “Toby” or two. Luckily, I’ve developed much better social skills and know to give people “a go”. I think if you look hard enough there’s always something to like in most people. Nobody was born mean, and most people are lovely if you give them the chance.

I should also admit that I based the character on the exuberant character of our beloved Labrador, Toby. He would run through boxes, upset drinks with his wagging tail, and lick our faces if we fell over. He never meant to be a slobbering nuisance. He just wanted to join in.

A Friend for Marmalade_COVER_PB copyA Year with Marmalade_cropped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alison, I’ve heard a thrilling whisper that Marmalade is taking a trip abroad. Can you tell us about this exciting development?

Yes, A New Friend for Marmalade has already been released in the UK by The Five Mile Press UK and is padding in A Year with Marmalade’s paws by being published by Little Simon (Simon and Schuster US) in July this year. He is a well travelled cat!

A New Friend for Marmalade is published by The Five Mile Press ISBN: 9781743466599

Visit Alison on her website www.alisonreynolds.com.au.

WIN, WIN, WIN! – GREAT WRITER & PET OWNER COMPETITIONS:

As part of Alison’s blog tour she is offering some fantastic prizes in two different competitions. Anyone, any age, can enter her  fantastic PET PHOTO competition and AUTHORS get the fabulous opportunity to JUMP THE PUBLISHER’S SLUSH PILE.

Jump the Slush Pile

Win a free pass to a Children’s editor’s desk. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials CB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win a free pass to a Non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk.  Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win an assessment of Chapter One of a chapter book by the fabulous mentor extraordinaire Dee White. http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/   Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials DW. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win a free picture book assessment by Alison! Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials PB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Pet Photo contest – for all ages!

Marmalade the cat is full of personality. Do you have a pet with personality? Win a piece of artwork by Heath McKenzie. Send along a photo of your personality-plus pet to www.alisonreynolds.com.aualrey@msn.com.au or upload to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524

Random book giveaways!

Just leave a comment on one of the posts in the blog tour, comment on facebook or even email me that you want to enter competition to win A New Friend for Marmalade.

FOLLOW ALISON’S BLOG TOUR

11th March Dee White – review and post http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

11th March Chris Bell – interview https://christinemareebell.wordpress.com

12th March Angela Sunde – interview with Heath http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au

12th March KBR – book giveaway http://www.kids-bookreview.com

13th March Boomerang Books – Post with Dimity Powell http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

14th March KBR Guest post http://www.kids-bookreview.com

14th March KBR Review http://www.kids-bookreview.com

14th March Sally Murphy – Meet my book http://aussiereviews.com/reviews/blog

15th March Buzz Words – Interview http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com

17th March Ask the Bean Counter – Mr X http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

17th March Pass-it-on Post and Review – Jackie Hosking http://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com/school-magazine

18th March Ask the Publisher – Kay Scarlett http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

The Littlest Bushranger comes to town

Today I welcome wonderful writer and friend, Alison Reynolds to celebrate the launch of her latest picture book The Littlest Bushranger.

Alison Pith HelmetAlison is the multi-talented, much published author of the Ranger Danger series, A Year with Marmalade and For You Mum amongst her many other titles. Prolific, dedicated and professional describe Alison’s work ethic. Gorgeous, evocative and imaginative describe her books.

The Littlest Bushranger embodies all these adjectives and is a delightful rendering of a child’s imagination at play. Vivid descriptions transform an ordinary backyard into the bush, a bird into an outlaw, a hose into a snake and the adventure begins with Jack in pursuit of the villain.The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVER

When Jack’s big sister Lil starts school, he is left with only his faithful dog Hector for company and Lil’s favourite toy to protect. But an ordinary day transforms into an extraordinary one when Jack’s called upon to do battle with a fiendish villain… 

This book will prove inspirational to today’s child readers who often miss the chance to day-dream and explore their imaginations with so much fully formed fare lade on for them in video games, instant digital amusements and movies on demand. It brought so many memories back to my mind of games of make-believe my sisters and I shared as children and adventures in my own imagination. I love the reminder that make-believe is fun and can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The text of The Littlest Bushranger evokes Jack’s adventure through strong verbs and fast paced action. The fantastic imagery of the “murky billabong”, a dark shape swooping, hurdling a snake, splashing through a billabong, paint word pictures in my mind as vivid as the wonderful images on the page.

Heath McKenzie’s  http://www.heathmck.com fabulous illustrations show the wild adventure in Jack’s imagination – the fierce battle, his grim determination and the friends who help him battle their foe. I love the return to reality at the end when the billabong reveals as a wading pool, the sword reverts to a broom and Jack’s trusty stead becomes his bicycle.

I can’t resist asking Alison a few questions on the topic of make-believe.

Alison, I got the strong feeling whilst reading The Littlest Bushranger that you were closely connected to this type of imaginative play. How much did your own childhood influence the idea and development of Jack’s story?

A huge amount. I didn’t realise until I finished how much of myself was in the book. I loved playing imaginative games, including some that lasted for days. I had a secret passage behind the cotoneasters along the driveway, I would make tomato soup out of rust on top of the incinerator and dragged all the furniture out of my cubby house onto its. That was my penthouse!

Can you share one of your favourite childhood games of make-believe?

I played one named, rather macabrely, Death. With my two friends we would act out a scenario that resulted in Death, which we would all chant in sombre, dramatic tones.  I remember the first one I did as a sort of demonstration model was me staggering along in a desert, panting and then slowly collapsing into the sand. I was lost in a desert. The death throes lasted for a long, long time.

What do you believe is the role and/or benefit of make-believe in children’s lives?

I think make-believe is extremely important. You can control your own environment. Often children feel as if they have no control in their reality. Children can express their feelings in play and storytelling.  It’s also a lot of fun. I remember how there were no limits in my imaginative play. If I wanted to fly, I could do it!

Will we see further adventures of Jack?

I’m crossing my fingers as I have some more adventures up my sleeve that I would love to share with Jack.

As part of Alison’s blog tour she is offering some fantastic prizes along the way, plus a great opportunity for non-fiction writers, and a fantastic MONSTER drawing competition. 

Jump the Slush Pile!

Win a free pass to a adult non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk.

Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the The Littlest Bushranger blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Monster Competition:

There are a couple of monsters in The Littlest Bushranger. One’s a bunyip, and the other an outlaw/monster who steals Lil’s telescope. What sort of monster do you like? Send along a painting/drawing/model of a monster and you could win a piece of Heath McKenzie’s amazing artwork for The Littlest Bushranger.

Upload your own best monster to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it as a low res jpeg file to alrey@msn.com.au and we’ll upload it. If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo on a smart phone and email that!

Two categories. Under 12 and 12 plus, including grown-ups. Entries close 25th June!

The Littlest Bushranger The Five Mile Press June 2013 ISBN 97817434664977

The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVERFollow the other stops on Alison’s book tour and watch out for further prizes along the ride including: a piece of Heath McKenzie’s artwork from The Littlest Bushranger, a picture book assessment by Alison Reynolds, 2 free passes direct to an editor’s desk (you get to skip the slush pile), copies of The Littlest Bushranger. Just comment on the posts.

June 11 Kat Apel  http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/

June 12 Chris Bell  https://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/

June 13 Angela Sunde  http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/

June 14 Boomerang Books  http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

June 18 Dee White  http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

June 19 Kids Book Review  http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

June 20 Ask the Editor. Interview with Melissa Keil  

www.alisonreynolds.com.au

June 21 Ask the Sales Rep. Interview with Melinda Beaumont   

www.alisonreynolds.com.au

 

Au Revoir 2011 ~ Bon jour 2012

Waving 2011 goodbye, I’m grateful it was here, yet pleased to see it go. It’s been fun and frantic and sped by like no other. But, hey, don’t we always say that?

CYA logo by Bec Timmis

The first half-year for me was head down and fully focused on finishing the final draft of my novel, reworking a YA mss and planning a writing workshop. I thought they kept me busy enough combined with uni classes. I kept up with my writing goals and surpassed the one to enter a major writing competition by winning the published author category of the CYA Writing Competition for my YA novel mss Jumping Through Hoops in early September. A huge highlight in a frantic year, including my going up to Brisbane for the presentation.

 

On the homefront, it was a strange year of goodbyes and hellos in our family. In February, our nest shrank from three to two with our daughter flying across the world to the UK for nine months leaving hubby and me empty nesters, albeit briefly. What initially seemed a strange and unnerving occurrence soon revealed bonuses. It’s amazing how much simpler life becomes for a writer with fewer people to take into account, plan meals around, and be interrupted by. Still we were thrilled when our youngest son returned to the nest in April, bringing with him his cheeky humour and remarkable ability to “tidy” a room in record speed. Shame his equally remarkable ability to completely trash it at even faster pace remains unchanged. (Enter the “closed door” policy. What you cannot see, cannot hurt you. 🙂 )

Second semester got even busier with one uni subject requiring me to write an 8000-word exegesis, alongside completing the final stage of my Master’s Major Project subject. Both needed lots of writing and rewriting and for a few weeks there, I thought I’d drown under academic research papers, novel chapters and the pressure of looming deadlines. Short term stress though, for which I’m grateful, but glad to see the back of too.

So what will 2012 bring?

I’m still sorting my list of writing goals? I certainly have a wish list of a few small things I aim to achieve like:

  •             Find a publisher for TST
  •             Find an agent
  •             Make more reading time
  •             Indulge in more relaxation/family time
  •             Write many, many words of my new novel.

The journey continues because, of course, I’ve got to go all the way – from Hook to published Book.

So Happy New Year, one and all. May the muse, good health and good fortune bless us all in 2012. (And may it be somewhat less frantic than its predecessor.)

Postscript: I’m also grateful that when my car gallantly caught a Camry driving off the upper level of a tiered car park in early December that neither my daughter or I were inside but safely sipping tea in a cafe until a policewoman came in search of us. Thought you might like to see the pics. I am grateful too that the elderly lady who mistook her accelerator for her brake was not hurt either. Just another reminder to me to smell the roses more next year and never ever forget that cars and stuff are replaceable/repairable, but those we love are not.

CYA Conference for the WIN!

CYA logo by Bec Timmis

A thrilling week for me!

On Friday I flew to Brisbane for the 2011 CYA Conference. I’d heard so much about this conference over the past few years and have been keen to go, then this year I had a huge added incentive.

Back in June, I entered my YA novel manuscript Jumping Through Hoops into the CYA published authors competition. Not in the hope of winning, (who am I fooling, of course, I hoped to win) but because part of the prize offered a publisher critique and feedback to shortlistees via marking sheets. Also, I have to admit, I had a further motive. It’s been a little quiet in the achievement line of late. Writing a long-length novel has taken all my time and, in the interim, I’ve had no new books come out for the past eighteen-months. I determined to fill the gap in my C.V. for 2011 by entering the comp in the hope of a short-listing.

I was delighted a few weeks ago to learn my story had been shortlisted. Decision time. To go to Brisbane or not. Then I saw CYA offered not only pitch sessions to publishers, but the opportunity to pitch to a literary agent. Done deal.

I’m thrilled to say that Jumping Through Hoops won the published author section and, despite my shaky hands, I loved being there to collect my award.

These are the kind of opportunities emerging writers need to keep us writing through the drought times, or should I more kindly say, the quiet times. Entering competitions, submitting short stories or articles, give us hope, deadlines and dates to look forward to. And, if we’re successful, writing credits, validation and acknowledgement. Something like the CYA award, and attending conferences, also puts our names in front of publishers and gives us the wonderful opportunity to mix and mingle and meet our peers.

I had a fantastic time. It was wonderful to catch up with some real and online writing buddies and meet some lovely new ones. As well as attending all the wonderful author sessions and a brilliant Brian Falkner workshop. I look forward to letting you know if, and when, I have any good news to share coming out of the win or attending CYA.

It’s times like this when I can roll up my Certificate and swat those swarming self-doubts. (Of course, only figuratively. My award is far too precious for that.)

Special thanks to Tina Marie Clarke and Ally Howard for organising the wonderful CYA Conference and offering writers and illustrators the fabulous opportunity to put themselves and their work in front of publishers face-to-face. Absolute gold!

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