From Hook to Book

Archive for the category “CYA Conference”

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

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Books for Mother Africa and PNG

Mother Africa donationI’m so excited to see some of my books taking a journey that I have long wanted to take myself.  All the way to Africa, and Papua New Guinea, thanks to the amazing efforts of author Tina Marie ClarkCYA Conference, and a fantastic band of helpers.

I was lucky (in a strange reversal of fortune) to be able to contribute a substantial number of my titles Blackheart Bilko and the Cape Barren Rats and Ghostgirl that I had purchased in a bulk lot when their trade publisher sold out to another only not their Aussie fiction titles. Sad faced at the time! 😦 But I’m happy now to think that these two books, which I love, will be read and, I trust, enjoyed by eager young readers in both Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Africa and across Papua New Guinea, including Kokoda.)

Unloading books at WamiraTina and CYA Conference have been raising funds and collecting books and school supplies for The Mother Africa Trust (an organisation “created as a way for people to “give back” to both the environment and to the people of Zimbabwe.”) in Bulawayo Zimbabwe.  Now Tina and CYA are also collecting books for a fantastic new project. Milne Bay Mobile Libraries, PNG. This has included the creation of a library in Kokoda, to help students learn and practice English. If you would like to read more about the development of these projects on CYA’s news page or can assist in way with donations, please click here.

How cool to see my books reaching such far away, exotic places. How cool that so many authors, publishers, couriers and organisations are contributing to give and get books into the hands of readers. Makes me want to stow away with them!

Young Writers’ Competitions and Opportunities

It’s that time of year  to flex your writing muscles and get your entries in to the fantastic number of competitions and exciting opportunities open to young writers right now. You’ll find further details and some cool new resources on my Young Writers’ Resources page, such as writing residencies, including: three great KSP places in WA, the Ray Koppe Residency – offering a week at Varuna Writers’ House; writing conferences, including:  CYA Hatchlings  combined with the full CYA program in July 2013 and  the National Young Writers Festival blasting off in October 2013, plus lots more competition details, events and workshops.

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

So get those stories and poems in fast for those 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
  • Flick off that fear goblin nagging on your shoulder. If you’ve put in the work – it’s ready. Repeat – flick and submit.

If anyone reading here knows 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.

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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