#illo52weeks – July’s Illustrations

July has been a cold month. But I  have still managed to submit 3 manuscripts:

  1. for a monthly short story blog
  2. for a Writer’s Unleashed picture book competition (deadline has now closed)
  3. to an editor that I had a consultation with at the CYA Conference (fingers crossed she likes!)

And I have kept up to date with my weekly illustrations, so here goes:

Week 26: Land

I really enjoyed getting familiar with Illustrator Adobe again. I am hoping to improve my digital skills. This illustration is lovely and simple but one day i would like to be able to include interesting textures. It was a particularly cold week, hence the arctic theme.

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015

 

Week 27: Style

I loved spending time creating this illustration. The moment I saw the theme i knew exactly what I wanted to do. My four year old niece Emma Rose, dresses up for every occasion even colouring in. I also enjoy collage.

Week 27: Style
© Ramona Davey 2015

Week 28: Winter

Yes, it was still cold outside and I had just taken the kids tobogganing as a holiday treat in Corin Forest, half an hour from Canberra. Cold but great fun! Of course it inspired this weeks theme in digital medium. I was thrilled to see that my ‘Winter’ illustration was among the selection of Lisa-Marie’s picks on The 52 Week Illustration Challenge blog. Check out the other great winter themed illustrations too.

© Ramona Davey 2015

Week 29: Love

This was inspired by a photo I saw on the internet of a little boy blowing dandelion seeds off the stalk. My figure drawing still feels a bit stiff and is something I need to work on.

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015

Week 30: Portrait

I can not believe we are over half way already! As you know I am an aspiring children’s author. Therefore I have given myself the challenge that my illustrations must be completed in a style that would be suitable for a children’s picture book or chapter book. hence I have drawn this digital illustration as if it was drawn by my daughter when she was younger.

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my illustrations. I am always keen to know which ones resonate or are the most appealing to my readers, so feel free to let me know. Till next month – happy drawing! 🙂

Competition Feedback

My chapter book ranked No. 8
My chapter book ranked No. 8

 

As some of you know, I like to enter writing competitions to develop my ability at the craft of writing. I have talked about what I feel you can get out of entering competitions before here.

Over the weekend many aspiring and published writers received the results and feedback from the CYA Conference  – Children’s and Young Adult Writers And Illustrators Conference. This is the third year I have entered and over the 3 years I have submitted 8 manuscripts. 7 of which were picture books and 1 a junior chapter book. With your chapter book you only enter the first 1000 words so you have to grab the readers attention and get the point of the story in early. Something which I need to work on. You get feedback from two judges which is just invaluable, so a big ‘Thank You,’ whoever you are!

The image above shows the order in which the chapters books were ranked according to the marks they were given. I was quite pleased to come 8th, as writing chapter books is a relatively new experience to me.

I love the editing, revising, rewriting process, so now I can mull over the feedback and adapt it to my chapter book in the hope of making it an even stronger story and better read.

Here are some things I need to consider:

  • what age is my main character/protagonist?
  • end chapters on a point of high tension eg: discovery, mystery, etc
  • does each scene promote or advance the plot?
  • is the reader drawn in right away/ is my first chapter so interesting, intriguing that the reader can’t put the book down and wants to read on?
  • Bring the action in sooner

The encouraging feedback was that:

  • the chapter book was the appropriate size for the audience, with short chapters
  • the concept was different to most Christmas books which was a good point
  • it would be a lovely book for Christmas time

Feedback is constructive and can be hard to take or interpret sometimes. It is also very subjective, so both judges can give different feedback. This is so important to experience as a writer and can only make you stronger!

2 Other sources of information I use to help steer me in the right direction and that gives great tips on writing are the following podcasts:

KATIE DAVIS  – I listen to Katie and her guests talk about writing for children every Friday morning when I go for a long walk. This is also one of the times I get my ‘eureka’ moment when I have been stuck on a particular part of a manuscript.

And more recently I have been listening to:

CHERYL KLEIN – Cheryl talks with her guests about all types of writing but some of the advice is still relevant to writers of children’s books. EG: Consider when does your next scene start? How long after the last? In your first chapters include protagonist, conflict and adventure.

 

Speak to you soon, I have to go off now and polish my work!

 

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!