A Fun Day Out Illustration Competition

The results have come in for the New England Illustration Prize. Well done to the winners and everyone who entered!

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.

 

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!

 

Finding my voice

For an author to improve it is essential that they submit their work to others for constructive criticism and feedback. I have done this on many occasions. My feedback has come from family, friends, my writers group, competitions, editors and publishing houses. The main area that needs more attention to detail is ‘my voice’. I need to find it. But firstly I needed to understand what that meant exactly. Luckily enough a few blogs have been written recently on this very topic:

Emma walton Hamilton has written a great piece aboutVoice Exercises. It is not an uncommon problem thankfully, as she says that:

“Children’s book authors often grapple with anthropomorphism.’

(anthropomorphism = attribute human qualities to toys, products, and machines)

She explains this by saying that authors must imagine themselves “into the character, the setting, the situation.’

So I look at the characters I have in my many manuscripts and think to myself, can I imagine what it is like to be a…

Librarian – yes, I love books and help out in my child’s school library, so I can speak from experience.

Toddler – almost, but I need to get down on my knees and see the world from their height, understand their worries and joys.

Tooth Fairy – I have failed at this with my own children (forgetting to put the coin under their pillows) but I am small and would love to be able to fly!

Limpet – this one needs more work. Similar to a barnacle, this is something I have not had any experience at being. Therefore will have to go back down the beach, sit on a rock and observe the dangers (curious children, dogs,  people, tides, birds, etc) and the joys (curious children, sea view everyday, sticking around with my friends and family all day long, etc).

For another post on voice Heather Alexander is a guest on Brenda Harris’ blog called Voice Lessons: Making Your Manuscript Sing.

 

Well, that’s it for now, I am off to find my voice!


Participating

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:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/SCBWI-Australia-and-New-Zealand/239873816092316?ref=ts&sk=wall

GOODLUCK!