Writers festivals and Conferences 2014

The last few weekends have been extraordinarily busy for writers. They have consisted of the following events:

Children’s and Young Adults Writers Festival hosted by Aleesah Darlinson


Hachette editor Suzanne O’Sullivan talking to illustrator Sarah Davis

CYA Conference 2014 which I have written about here: CYA Conference 2014


Me very proudly collecting my First place certificate for a rhyming preschool picture book manuscript

SCBWIAus/NZ 2014 of which I was lucky enough to be a Roving Reporter. You can read my report on Pitching to Publishers here: The Art Of Pitching To Publishers

The publishers

The publishers

It has been a jam packed couple of weeks, filled with useful tips and advice for published and aspring writiers. It’s a great time to network, to catch up with old friends and meet lots of new ones. Now it is time to buckle down, read the feedback from the the manuscripts assessments I have had recently and polish my work to my best ability!

CYA Conference 2014

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All through last week my fingers were tightly crossed. I had received an e-mail to say I had been shortlisted for the CYA CONFERENCE  Aspiring (Unpublished) Competition ~ 2014.

This was exciting news and with support and encouragement from my other half I decided to fly up to Brisbane where the Conference is held. The winners were announced very early in the morning. The winner of third place was announced. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I must be second!’ The winner of second place was announced. I panicked and thought, ‘Oh my god, how embarrasing, I hadn’t been shortlisted at all, it was a mistake!’

Winning had not occured to me at all, but I did, much to my surprise!

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Goodnight Gorgeousaurus is a rhyming manuscript that takes you through the busy, adventurous and hungry day of a young dinosaur (or a child dressed up as a dinosaur. I have left it  up to the illustrator to decide how the text can be interpreted.)

This was a great start to the day that was jam-packed with workshops. Here are just a few:

Slashings Of Editors

This was a great insight into what a selection of editors would like to see, including: professionalism, a great hook and stories with heart. They also mentioned how they often read manuscripts in their own time, after a busy day and therefore your work must stand out and make them want to read on.

Structuring a story with Pamela Rushby

Pamela highlighted 9 questions you should ask about your story, as well as asking us ‘were we a plotter or panster?’ I decided I was a bit of both.

Pamela Rushby CYA 2014

Let Your Pictures Do The Talking By Peter Carnavas 

Peter’s workshop was interactive which was great. I am always happy to be taught a few tips and tricks to help me develop my illustration skills. He also discussed storyboards and how they work:

Peter carnavas CYA 2014

The whole day was great and the cherry on the top was meeting fellow aspiring writers, current winners, like Elizabeth Kasmer and Catherine from Squiggglemum:

me and catherine CYA 2014

and previous winners like the lovely Kat Apel:

Kat Apel CYA 2014


Editor meetings were available and these are extra helpful in getting feedback on your work. I came away with a head full of useful information and heartful of new friends.

Well done to all the team at CYA!


#illo52weeks – week 26: Clouds

This week I tried a new medium: Gelli art. I had so  much fun with it as did my nine year old daughter.

I watched a few you tube videos and videos on Pinterest to see what you can create with it. This is what I did for this weeks theme:

Clouds No. 1 – Polar bear under snow cloud

Acrylic paint rolled onto the gelli plate

cut out card templates block the paint from covering the whole sheet of paper that I lay ontop of the plate


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Clouds No.2 – Balloon floating up to the clouds

This time I used more than one colour, plus cloud templates. I then experimented with brushing paint across the Gelli plate (yellow, white, red) and laid the paper down to add to the first print.

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Thanks goes to Jess Racklyeft who demonstrated this technique within her own amazing illustrations as a fellow participant in Tania McCartney’s 52 week Illustration Challenge.

#illo52weeks – Weeks 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25

Wow! Where has the time gone? We are at the end of week 25 for Tania McCartney’s Illustration Challenge. Here are the previous weeks worth of my ilustrations:

Week 21: Boxes & Week 22: Eyes

Based on egyptian coffin of Khnum Nakht – completed in Adobe illustrator

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Week 23: Feast

Pencil sketch – Watercolour – Artline pen outline

It can be very frustrating to have an image in your head that your hands just can’t create. This was fun to do never-the-less.

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Week 24: Octopus

This first image was completed in Adobe Illustrator. It’s okay. I am getting frustrated with my own lack of skill with this medium but I enjoy creating digital art, so I am going to have to go on a course.

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I decided to have another crack at the octopus theme in pencil and then Photoshopped  the image just for fun (using Trace image).

)Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 12.44.09 pm Octopus - photo shopped

Week 25: Dots

Again I decided to do more pencil work.

Pencil – watercolour – Copic pen outliner

Week 25 - Dots

And that brings me up to date – I look forward to seeing what I create for next weeks theme – ‘Clouds.’

#illo52weeks – Weeks 17, 18, 19 & 20

Today I am uploading four weeks worth of illustrations. Why so many in one go? Well, about a month ago I received the call that every expat dreads… your father has died. And as to be expected I travelled back to Jersey with my children for four weeks and came offline. But the beauty of creativity is that it is always with you through thick and thin. And so there were moments I could distract myself from the sorrow I felt and withdraw into my arty headspace.


Week 17 – Horse

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This illustration was created on Adobe illustraor. First of all I found an image of a carousal horse online, printed it off and traced the shape. I uploaded my outline to the computer and then placed it into Illustrator and filled it in.

This image will always remind me of the weekend my father passed away. I felt a desperate need to get it done on the Sunday. I told my partner that something was going to happen the following week and I would not get my illustration done it time before the Wednesday deadline. So I worked on it all day along with polishing some manuscripts for other competition deadlines.

The next morning I got the call from my sister. Spooky but true!


Week 18 – Celestial bodies

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Completed on Adobe Illustrator.

Me and my siblings were not too sure what my father believed in when we were trying to organise his funeral – but I did remember that once upon a time I asked him if he went to church. He said he didn’t need to as the ‘sky was his church.’


Week 19 – Fish

Week 19 - Fish

I didn’t have access to my Illustrator software in jersey which was a good thing because it made me try a different media. I love cut paper art and decided to try one of my own.

PS: My father was a fisherman.


Week 20 – Colour

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The emotions of colour was fun to do and plus my drawing skills needed the practice.

I am back in Australia now and am catching up with everything, plus I am keen to see what else I can produce with all the interesting themes Tania McCartney has provided all of us participants.

Thanks for stopping by! :-)

Writing Processes Blog Tour

Thank you to Penny Morrison for inviting me to be part of the ‘Writing Processes Blog Tour.’

Penny is the author of the Hey! series and is currently having her debut picture book illustrated  (to be published by Walker Books Au). How exciting is that!

Have a look at Penny’s post for the ‘Writing Processes Tour.

So here are the following questions to explain my processes:

Works in progress

Works in progress

What am I working on?

Everything at the moment, which feels a bit hectic. But I am working for 3 deadlines/closing dates which are happening in the following week:

  • I have to submit manuscripts for appraisals at this years SCBWI Conference
  • submit a manuscript to CYA Conference Writing Competition
  • submit a manuscript to KBR Unpublished Picture Book Award Competition

Actually, the first one is the only job I have to do, but the second two are what I need to do to help me develop into a more satisfying and successful writer. Entering competitions helps you work towards deadlines. Some offer feedback sheets which are invaluable and help you to spot strengths and weaknesses in your own work.

So, what am I working on?

3 chapter books/ middle grade novels

1 rhyming picture book manuscript ( I know, rumour has it that they are not easy to sell to publishers, unless the ryhme is perfect – I intend to make it perfect ;-)

2 prose picture books

and Tania McCartney’s 52 Week Illustration Challenge

This weeks theme: Horse

This weeks theme: Horse

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

I learnt a new word last year – scatalogical. I submitted a manuscript to an American Literary Agency for Julie Hedlund’s 12 X 12 Writing Challenge (write 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months). The agent replied to me with a very nice rejection letter explaing that ‘scatalogical’ humour was not her thing.

I don’t know why but many of my manuscripts seem to contain scatalogical humour in some shape or form including: cow pats, bird poo, super-glue poo. Maybe that’s how it differs.

I also have two manuscripts which have a connection to the island I was born on – Jersey, Channel Islands.

Why do I write what I do?

I have often read blogs that say don’t write to trends, write about what you know or enjoy.

Well, I know about Jersey, living on a tiny island and Jersey cows.

But I’m not an expert on a great variety of poos – although I have stood in dog poo (which isn’t lucky) and bird poo has landed on me  (but that’s ok because it’s lucky.)

I love history and therefore I have two manuscripts that are historical. Both are based around real events. One is a picture book which made my daughter cry. She thought it was a horrible story as the father wasn’t going to make it back in time for his daughter’s birthday. (She threw the manuscript on the floor!)

The other one is a middle grade novel which is so exciting to write but difficult too. It is based in 50BC and as I wasn’t around then it is quite hard to make sure I am including details that would have existed then, eg: food, transport, tradition, clothes (or lack of – Gauls had been known to fight naked!), family life, rules, etc…

How does my writing process work?

In the past I have entered Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Ideas Month). Or I have seen something in the news or in the newspaper, on Facebook or something my kids have done – and Bingo! It has given me an idea.

I then go through the following quick checklist:

  • WHO is the main character?
  • WHAT is the problem/ inciting event?
  • WHERE is this happening?
  • WHEN is it happening?

I write the first draft. Spell check it. Read it out loud into my voice memo onto my iphone (this is especially useful for my rhymimg text)

I have recently come across this devise to help you hear your work: http://www.naturalreaders.com/index.php

I also get my 8 year old daughter to read out the manuscript aloud.

Then I meet up with my brilliant critique group and they give me valuable feedback on the good and the bad. And I rewrite, rewrite and rewrite until the writing feels polished and every word is needed. This can sometimes be hard to judge.

And now to introduce next week’s blogger;

Rob Harding

Rob Harding

Rob Harding

Rob Harding is a voice-over artist, TV presenter and kids author. You have probably heard Rob’s voice before – perhaps on the radio or TV for Coke or Optus or perhaps one of those ads where he shouts at you about a Massive Clearance Sale. He appears on the BBC’s pre-school channel CBeebies, where he gets to dress up as a gnome and speak in a pirate accent, although usually not at the same time. 

Rob has also written several critically acclaimed children’s books. At this stage, none of these books have actually been published, so the critical acclaim only comes from Rob’s kids. His wife thinks they’re OK. His dog thinks they stink. (Which actually isn’t such a bad thing because she used to eat her own poopy.)

Find out more at www.robharding.com.
Thanks for stopping by,
Ramona x

#illo52weeks – Weeks 15 & 16

Week 15 – Detail

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Hand picked fushia
Adobe Illustrator

Interestingly enough, at college and previous to that i would say I was a detailed artist. It’s what I felt comfortable with. I could spend hours drawing in minute details into my art. But for this weeks challenge I found it difficult to be aas detailed as I used to be. Maybe it’s a time limit thing. Pre kids I had more time to draw in detail and take hours over one piece. So the above image is not as detailed as I would like it to be – I may come back to it.

Week 16 – Book Cover

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Book cover design isn’t an area I have had much practise in, infact this is probably the first book cover I have ever designed , so I know I have a long way to go to get it professional looking. A useful tip I have read about designing front covers is to keep it minimal, tis type of style will help the book to look timeless. It also helps the reader to focus on the book’s title and authors name.

I like what I have achieved here but it lacks depth and tone – another illustration I may come back to at a later date.


#illo52weeks – Weeks 13 & 14

We are in April already, so here are two more entries for Tania Mccartney’s 52 week Illustration Challenge:

Week 13 – Water

I had initially started this weeks theme on watercolour paper with watercolour paint, tissue paper and pastels. But the end result wasn’t what I had in mind. I like the shape of the humpback whales but the background/sea hasn’t worked.

original whales in pastel

So I wanted to see what I could do to improve it by working on the illustration in Adobe Illustrator.


Whales copy

I converted it by using image trace (16 colours option) and I liked the effect. Although it does feel a little bit like cheating. Never-the-less it is still a learning curve.

Week 14 – Simplicity

My illustration this week was inspired by an activity I did with my children’s school during an art auction a few years ago. It was made in collage using a variety of beautiful paper.

This was the class project:

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It is also a birthday for a family member who loves sailing, so to kill two birds with one stone I worked on Adobe Illustrator again to see if I could create a simple image:

This illustration challenge is 'sailing by' so fast!

This illustration challenge is ‘sailing by’ so fast!

I was pleased with the end result.

Simplicity is a subject that everyone has interpreted quite differently within the challenge. Some have taken it to mean simple in the way the image was made, others have created an image about something that is simple in everyday life (eg: a hug, a feather).

#illo52weeks – Weeks 11 & 12

Week 11 – Architecture

I wanted to really challenge myself with this weeks theme of Architecture, the trouble is that what is in my brain doesn’t always transfer to paper/computer when I am trying to create an image. I actually started a project on Adobe Illustrator but then got distracted with editing and revising my chapter and middle-grade manuscripts. I was in the flow with my writing and therefore didn’t want to miss the moment and let all my ideas disappear never to be remembered. This meant I ran out of time to complete my digital Architectural piece and instead doodled this:

Week 11 - Architecture La Rocco Tower By Ramona Davey

Week 11 – Architecture
La Rocco Tower By Ramona Davey

I have always wanted to improve on my pen & ink drawing skills inspired by a local artist from where I was born, Edmund Blampied, but I got frustrated with my lack of skill and left it as it was before I ruined it.

Week 12 – Number

It took me all week to think about what to do for this theme. Initially I was going to finish the digital Architecture building I was going to do as mentioned above, as the building has a date engraved in stone on it. But instead I did this:

Week 12 - Numbers Counting sheep By Ramona Davey

Week 12 – Numbers
Counting sheep By Ramona Davey

Every week I am learning or improving in some way. It may not be always obvious but it must surely be better than doing no artwork each week. Hope you are enjoying Tania McCartney’s 52 Week Challenge as much as I am!

#illo52weeks – weeks 8, 9 & 10

I present 3 illustrations today for weeks 8, 9 and 10. It’s been a busy time as I have been filling my days with:

  • teaching myself Adobe Illustrator by watching many youtube tutorial videos
  • submitting manuscripts to Koala Books /Scholastic before their deadline closed on 28th February (a rare opportunity, too good to miss, so fingers crossed)
  • preparing a chapter book manuscript for my critique group

So here we are, I present 3 more completely different styles yet again:

Week 8 – Cross-hatching


I really enjoyed this process, it can go wrong quickly so it is best not to rush. This started as a sketch while I was writing/reading blogs/catching upon facebook/etc. One of my recent picture book manuscripts has a Rockhopper Penguin in it!


Week 9 – Tree

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I never know what I am going to do each week. It always takes me by surprise. Here I wanted to capture a scene rather than a stand alone object.


Week 10 – Pattern

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This was hard work as Adobe Illustrator is new to me. I can’t access my Art Rage Software as it is on our computer that has broken down. This has turned out to be a good thing as it has made me try something new. Again, watching youtube really helped me understand using a grid, the pen tool, etc.


To see all my illustrations for this challenge so far go to this page:

52 Week Illustration Challenge 2014