CYA Conference 2015

Last year for the first time ever I attended the CYA Conference in Brisbane. I  had been shortlisted in the pre-school category and so was keen to go. Much to my utter amazement and delight I came 1st. You can read more about it here: CYA Conference 2014

I attended again this year because it was the tenth year anniversary and I had enjoyed it so much last year. Much to my surprise I was shortlisted again. Twice. In utter disbelief I came 1st in the junior fiction category and 3rd in the middle grade category.

I have mentioned many times the importance in entering competitions because without polishing my work, meeting deadlines and entering competitions such as this and sometimes shortlisting or winning I would have nothing to put on my Author’s Bio as an aspiring writer. An Author’s Bio is often required when submitting work and it is something worth thinking about in advance.

  1. Here is my stuff  (just an overnight bag was all I needed) for my flight from Sydney to Brisbane:
packed ready to go
Packed ready to go.

2.Enjoying the peace and fancy decor in the smart hotel room:

Me being all arty in the hotel
Me being all arty in the hotel

 

3. Meeting and mingling with new and old friends at the networking dinner:

Catherine Oehlman, me and Elizabeth Kasmer.
Catherine Oehlman, me and Elizabeth Kasmer.

 

4. Arriving early at the Conference Center (7:30 am) to hear the results of the Aspiring (Unpublished) Competition:

me receiving certificate
Receiving my certificate from the lovely Suzanne O’Sullivan – Associate Publisher of children’s books at Hachette Australia. Photographer in photo is Peter Allert. Photo by Catherine Oehlman.

4. Taking a photo of the certificate! 🙂1st place certificate

5. Listening to fascinating authors tell us about their humorous journey to publication and how they keep getting their inspiration once published:

Morris Gleiztman
Morris Gleitzman

I learnt so much from the editor consultation sessions.

I made new friends.

I was inspired by other writers.

 

Here are some little bits of useful information gleaned from the CYA Conference:

Paul Collins (author & publisher at Ford Street Publishing) suggests:

when getting bookmarks made only print them on one side so you can sign the back.

 

Meredith Costain (author) believes that:

great openings need to be immediately engaging… gripping… have likeable characters… make you want to find out what happens next.

 

Morris Gleitzman (author) liked:

as a child to find the exception to the rule.

 

It was a great weekend and I look forward to next year!

#illo52weeks – June’s Illustrations

June is a busy month for me – lots of writing deadlines for a variety of competitions, submissions to prepare for editors at the CYA Conference this coming weekend (so excited and nervous) and the weekly illustration challenge to participate in.

Week 22: Childhood

As a child, my siblings and I had two rather amorous rabbits, Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker.

Copic markers & artline pen.

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015

 

Week 23: Rain

Coincidently there was a lot of rain during the week of this challenge. I think that helped.

Collage, watercolour.

© Ramona Davey 2015

 

Week 24: Calendar

This theme had me stumped for most of the week. Then I decided to give digital illustration a go again after a long break from it due to not having the resources. By the way, my 9 year old daughter likes my digital illustrations the least. Feed back is always useful no matter how painful. 🙂

Adobe Illustrator (ignore the red lines around each month, this is a screenshit of all the artpages as I did not know how to get all the images onto one page.)

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015

Week 25: Africa

I had so many wonderful collage creations in my head for this one but my hands had a completely different idea.

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015

Well that’s it for June! Can you see a running style yet because I can’t.

Today, the new theme starts for this week – Week 26: Land

#illo52weeks – Week 11 & 12

Week 11: Green

Gelli printing / collage

Week 11: Green
© Ramona Davey 2015

Week 12: Costume

Artline pen / collage

© Ramona Davey
© Ramona Davey

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:

CYA Conference Aspiring (Unpublished) Competition ~ 2015

Creative Kids Tales – 2015 Bone, Box or Sea Shell competition

Fingers crossed! 🙂

#illo52weeks – Week 2: Italy

Every week I panic and think I won’t be able to come up with an illustration for the 52 week Illustration Challenge – it really does make me feel nervous. I almost feel like giving up but I don’t because the joy I feel when I do manage to create a new piece of artwork is wonderful.

Week 2: Italy

Pencil, copic marker, coloured pencils, Artline pen.

I was so stuck with this theme and then I realised that the book I am reading is based in Italy. Masquerade is written by my writing buddy Kylie Fornasier, and I am thoroughly enjoying all the drama and intrigue that went with the Carnevale.

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015

This year to keep me inspired and creative I am taking part in the following:

Revimo 2015

This challenge has just finished and I managed to revise 5 manuscripts in four of the seven days allocated to this wonderful challenge.

52 Week Illustration Challenge 2015

This challenge is currently in Week 2, but you can join in at any time.

CYA Conference Competition

This competition opened recently and closes on the 30th April. last year I came first in the Aspiring Unpublished category for preschool. Such a boost to my confidence! You can read about it here: CYA Conference 2014.

Other challenges and opportunities may arise as the year goes on and I will attempt to participate or submit work to as many as I feel I am ready for. I can’t wait! 🙂

 

CYA Conference 2014


Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.23.38 pm

 

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!

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.12.37 pm

 

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!

 

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!

 

KBR Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award 2013

My very first certificate!

Although I am self-published with my little book ‘The Jersey 12 Days Of Christmas,’ I still aspire to be what is known as ‘traditionally published’ through a well known publishing house. Here is a defintion by Gene Mirabelli at Critical Pages:

“The names of The Big Six may be familiar to you as distinguished old publishing houses. They are Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Macmillan, The Penguin Group, and Hachette. Only two of The Big Six are US companies: Simon and Schuster, and HarperCollins. The others are foreign: two are German, one is British and the other is French.”

Until I get a manuscript accepted by a big publisher I have to motivate myself to keep going. There are no deadlines to work to by eager editors or animated agents. I have to keep going by myself through days of wordy drought and barren ideas.

To keep me going I enter writing competitions for the following reasons:

  • I am a big believer that you ‘have to be in it, to win it!’
  • some competitions give comprehensive and incredibly useful feedback sheets
  • competitions are good practice for following submission guidelines, eg: target age range, genre, word count, font size/type, etc.
  • and finally competitions give you a deadline to work to.

Above is a certificate I recently received for the KBR Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award 2013. I didn’t win but I did receive something just as important – a reason to carry on with writing – a sign that I am on the right track! I had earned a certificate of Highly Commended! The feedback was that my story had humour, a lovely character and scope for wonderful images.

The feedback also had some hints at how I can make it even stronger and this has given me some direction.

 

Here are some of the writing competitions that I have entered throughout the year:

KBR’S Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award 2013

CYA Conference Unpublished Competition 2013

Sutherland Shire’s Writers Festival Picture Book manuscript Competition 2013

 

Why don’t you give it a go, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

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Chapter Book Challenge 2013

Finally, here is my first post for 2013 and it starts with a new challenge. You can read about it here: Chapter Book Challenge 2013. Have you entered? Here is what it is about:

‘The Chapter Book Challenge is an informal challenge, and it is self-directed. At the end of the challenge, you let me know if you have completed the challenge, and I trust that you will be honest. The challenge itself is to write the first draft of an early reader, HiLo book, chapter book, middle grade book or even a YA book, and to write the book from start to finish, during the month of March, from March 1st through March 31st.’

(Quote from Rebecca at  Chapter Book Challenge Blog)

 

This will indeed be a huge challenge for me as I have not written a complete chapter book before. So in between waiting for feedback from manuscripts I have already sent ‘out there’ to editors, publishing houses and magazines, I will be working towards these other writing challenges.  Including:

I will also be working on all my manuscripts that are works  in progress. Rewriting, revising, polishing, editing, etc. On top of that I will be keeping a close eye on other deadlines and opening dates, such as:

  • New Frontier Publishing – who are looking for submissions to their Little Rocket Series (I don’t have one ready for this, but you might have)
  • Penguin – they have an incredibly useful calendar of the types of submission they are looking for each month

Fingers crossed I am getting closer to having a manuscript accepted in 2013 and goodluck to whatever project you are working on too! 😉