12x12x12 Picture Book Writing Challenge Completed!

At the beginning of the year I wrote about a writing challenge I had decided to join: Participant Badge for 12 x 12 in 2012. Then half way through the year I wrote about it again to mark a milestone: Halfway through the 12 x 12 writing challenge. Now we have come to the end of the year and it is time to write the final update about the challenge and how I went with it.

I am glad to say I did it, I managed to write 12 manuscript drafts for picture books and I am now looking forward to rereading them again in the new year. I look forward to editing and rewriting the manuscripts until they are polished and ready to be submitted to the big wide world of publishing houses. During the journey I learnt many tips on writing:

  • On the very first page start with a strong sentence – let the reader know who the story is about, where they are, when the story is happening and what the problem may be
  • Try to show the story in the words you are using, rather than tell the obvious in story (something which the illustrator will do for you)
  • Make sure your character grows in the journey of trying to achieve their goal
  • Use fresh language that will be a pleasure to listen to
  • resolve your story with a satisfying end!

I’d like to ‘Thank’ Julie Hedlund for creating the writing challenge and if you have also completed the challenge, well done!


Picture Book Ideas Month 2012

It’s that time of year again where you can challenge yourself for the whole month of November. Today is the last chance to sign up, as it starts on the 1st November 2012.

What’s the challenge?

It’s PiBoIdMo 2012 organised by the inspirational Tara Lazar – it means on everyday of November you have to come up with an idea for a picture book.

Just the idea, that is all. How hard can that be? Surprisingly enough, some days it can be quite tricky! If you can write a first draft from that idea, even better but not necessary.

I entered PiBoIdMo 2011  last year – it was my first writing challenge I had ever entered. Out of the 30 days of ideas I managed to come up with, I have turned two picture book concepts into fully fledged manuscripts. Both  are now out there in some slushpile waiting to be picked up, loved and wanted (hopefully I say with fingers crossed!)

All you need is:

  • a little imagination
  • a pen and notebook or computer
  • cup of tea and biscuit


Halfway through the 12 x 12 writing challenge!

I woke up to a party going on in my writing blog world. It is official, we are half way through the 12 Picture books in 12 months in 2012 writing challenge. I have previously written about it here in my New Year – New Goals  post.

The 12 x 12 writing challenge was the brain child of Julie Hedlund, visit her and join in her party too! While you’re at it, why don’t you click here and visit all the other 12 x 12 party goers too!

So, have I managed to write a picture book manuscript each month so far? Thankfully the answer to that is yes! And the very reason that I can keep coming up with new ideas each month is what is actually keeping me going. Because sometimes you do start to doubt yourself (am I wasting my time, am I actually any good at this, what if I run out of ideas, blah, blah, blah) But I do keep coming up with new ideas and this is what keeps me going. Here are some of the story ideas I have written about so far:

January – A young boy is looking for clean undies…

February – Florence loves the library but…

March – Farley the fox has trouble doing something that all foxes should be able to do.

April – A little penguin is determined to be able to fly just like his friends.

May – A caterpillar and a tadpole are the best of friends and help each other when something very strange happens to them!

June – Letters go back and forth between a father and his daughter in 1929.


A selection of the manuscripts written this year so far. Plus my PiBoIdMo 2011 notebook that I use for my ideas.

Happy writing and thanks for stopping by!


New note:

Due to a lot of discussion on our 12 x 12 Facebook page  I have cut my story pitches back. This is because posting whole stories or pitch ideas may be copied by others or make them invalid for publishing as they have already been seen. This may mean that some of your lovely comments below might not make as much sense, sorry!

CBCA Book Of The Year Shortlist 2012


I have just finished reading the following article:

Challenges of choosing a short list of top books for Children’s Book Council of Australia awards

Children’s book award judge Michelle Prawer gives a good insight into the criteria for a book worthy of an award. This is very useful for any aspiring author like myself.

The book has to be outstanding to make the CBCA shortlist, and to do this it must have the following:

  • have a great story
  • be well crafted
  • characters must be well developed
  • it must do something clever and different

Many authors have been privileged enough to receive this award such as Mem Fox, Alison Lester, Shaun Tan, etc.

From the past 2 years of my journey as an aspiring children’s author I have picked up and learnt many other useful bits of information about the criteria of what a great picture book entails. Such as:

  • a title that gives you some idea of what the story is about
  • a great opening line
  • problem of the story must come in early in the story (somewhere in the first 2-3 pages)
  • main character/protagonist must solve the problem not the parent or adult
  • main character must try at least 3 times to solve the problem
  • some evidence of growth must be evident in the main character

Meanwhile the story must flow with pace and be original. If it isn’t an original theme then there must be a twist to make it different from the similar stories it can be comparable too. On top of this you must consider the illustrations. Don’t tell what is going on in the story if this can be illustrated. Save on the word count. The phrase that I keep hearing over and over again is: Show, don’t tell!


Obviously, it would be a dream come true to write a book that was considered good enough to be on the CBCA shortlist. So next week I am going to take some holiday time (with the kids on a campsite), away from the computer to focus on my manuscripts. Editing, redrafting, revisiting and taking some of my own advice to try and get a step closer to my dream!


Write a 'To do..' list to help you get started and keep on track!

Once the last of my Christmas visitors have left I will be able to get down and back into my writing and drawing. Polishing, revising and rewriting manuscripts. Some I have recently received back from professional editors and manuscript assessors, and now have lots to read and think about.

Once I feel my many stories are up to scratch they will be submitted to a variety of competitions, publishing houses and critique groups.

Here are some things you might like to participate in:

Manuscript Monday with Pan Macmillan Australia

January Contest with QueryTracker.net blog

Children’s & Young Adult Writers and Illustrator’s Contest with CYA Conference

Frustrated Writers 2012 with the The Children’s Book Council of Australia

Don’t forget to join some groups yourself!

SCBWI Australia & New Zealand have just got a facebook page up and running, check it out:



Rejection letters

Image from http://www.writeyourwaytofreedom.com/

Yesterday I received a rejection note in the post along with the manuscript for a children’s picture book that I had sent over a month ago.

A reply in just over a month is pretty good going compared to some publishing houses. It is also very interesting to reread a manusript that you have not seen for a while, as you can see it again with fresh eyes. Maybe you can see why it was rejected in the first place or you may decide that it was just not what that particular publishing house was looking for in this moment in time.

I find space from a manuscript can be a good thing. I am then excited to look at it again and edit it with a keener more experienced eye. I am no proffessional, but I am learning all the time. And with each manuscript I can feel that I am getting better and better. I may sound over positive or sure but if I am not determined to succeed or believe in myself then all this work is a waste of time. I am not a time waster and enjoy stretching my brain, challenging myself and being creative!

So fingers crossed for the other 5 manuscripts I have out there in the book world!