My illustration for the theme ‘A Fun Day Out,’ didn’t get selected but I am okay with that.
Being a writer means you get used to rejections. I come away feeling that I am glad I entered because you have to be in it to win it, and if you don’t enter your chances are zero.
Rejections seem to spur me on to do better next time and that’s the great thing about competitions. Plus, I come away with an illustration I might not have even bothered attempting if I hadn’t chosen to enter.
Here it is:
I had just been teaching painted paper lessons to my year one students. It was fun to do and the artworks looked fabulous. I wanted to try this at home. Yes, I know another style! If you have read my posts before one of my biggest obstacles as an illustrator is that I don’t know what medium I like to work with best or what style my best art is so I keep trying out new stuff. Hopefully one day it will all click into place. It’s a bit eclectic like my dress sense and my house. 🙂
I don’t know why I chose sharks except I suppose I wanted to choose an animal that you wouldn’t normally think of as having a fun family day out. I didn’t want it to be predictable.
The sea and sand textures were created by putting blobs of paint onto paper and scraping a plastic ruler across the page. I accidentally got blue on the sand but I liked the fact that it looked like the sea reflecting on the bottom of the seabed so I left it.
I look forward to the next competition to see what I come up with.
Phew! August was a busy month. going back to casual teaching in a primary school has not only been nerve wracking and exhilarating but also taken up a lot of what would usually be my writing and illustrating time. But nevertheless, I kept on time with each illustration if if it was by the skin of my teeth. So here they are:
Week 31: Shakespeare
I decided to use good old fashioned pen and ink as this was the first thing that came to mind when thinking of shakespeare. he would have written all his manuscripts and plays in pen and ink, probably with a quill, but I didn’t go that far. 😉 But I did look for a Shakespeare quote to help me with my idea.
Week 32: Fabric
I am still keen to keep improving my digital skills and The Princess & The Pea came to mind.
Week 33: Mythology
Drawing characters is also another area I want to improve, especially cute ones like this little fella in his dressing up outfit as Medusa. I think Book Week must have been on my mind as my kids were dressing up during this week for Book Character parade. My daughter went as Tweedle Dee and my son as Asterix, although living in Australia not many of his friends knew who he was, in jersey they would have done, especially being only a couple of hours away from France.
Week 34: Japan
This one was tricky for me. I had never been to Japan so couldn’t draw from memories. So I decided to do another little character/figurine.
And then finally the full results for the CYA Conference Writers Competition arrived in my inbox. You can go to this link here: Final results. Initially you get to find out whether or not you are shortlisted, which I was and you can read about it here: CYA Conference 2015. Then you get the judges feedback which is so valuable but this doesn’t tell you where you came in the ratings but the Final results do.
I like to know where I am placed. It help me see whether or not I am improving, which manuscript is my strongest and most appealing to it’s reader and which manuscripts to get polishing ready for submitting to editors/publishers.
We break up for the Easter holidays today. I am sure Easter was on my mind when I completed Week 12’s Costume illustration. I was thrilled to see it included in Nicky’s picks here:52 Week Illustration Challenge
As the last week of March it has been busy due to the closing dates for the following competitions:
SCBWI Work In Progress Grant
Rate Your Story Writing Contest
Caterpillar Poetry Prize
I can relax for a few days before I prepare manuscriipts for the next competitions:
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!
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.
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:
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:
So here are the following questions to explain my processes:
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 😉
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 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.)
It s the last day of the school term and I had the opportunity this morning to read my book The Jersey 12 Days Of Christmas to my daughter’s class of year 2 children. What great fun!
I had intended to read the words but being in rhyme I found myself singing the whole book. Apparently, I didn’t sound too bad but in my mind I could hear my voice getting more and more high pitched. Behind me is my daughter Ruby, who doubles up as my assistant and editor. As I read the paperback version, she demonstrated how to use the ebook version on an ipad which included tapping the illustrations to hear the sounds.
Here are a few things to consider when reading to an audience:
if you are wearing a dress, remember to keep your knees together (see photo below – cringe!)
you are not reading to yourself – turn the book around so the audience can see any illustrations
project your voice for the children that always navigate towards the back so they can hear too
have eye contact with your listeners
slow down – I tend to rush when I am nervous.
Today’s class visit was my second. The first time I was invited to read a new manuscript about a Little Blue Fairy Penguin to a class of year 1’s. This was great too, as I could watch the children’s reaction and take note of moments when their eyes glazed over with boredom or when they giggled, asked questions or started to fidget. All really useful indicators as to how engaging your story is. Thankfully, they enjoyed the story as did the lovely teacher.
This was a fab way to end the year – and what a year it has been – I have: