#illo52weeks – August’s illustrations

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. ūüėČ But I did look for a Shakespeare quote to help me with my idea.

Week 31- Shakespeare
© Ramona Davey 2015


Week 32: Fabric

I am still keen to keep improving my digital skills and The Princess & The Pea came to mind.

Week 32- Fabric
© Ramona Davey 2015


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.

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015


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.

© Ramona Davey 2015
© Ramona Davey 2015


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.

So here are my results:

Category 1 РPicture Books РPreschool ~ Suzanne O’Sullivan, Lothian Books, Hachette Рmy manuscript TEN LITTLE RANGERS came 9th out of 107 entries.

Category 2 РPicture Books РPrimary ~ Suzanne O’Sullivan, Lothian Books, Hachette Рmy manuscript THREE GREEDY PIGS came 7th out of 147 entries.

Category 4a – Chapter Books¬†~¬†Suzanne O‚ÄôSullivan, Lothian Books, Hachette.¬†– my manuscript THE WOODLINGS came 1st out of 16 entries. ūüôā

Category 4b – Chapter Books¬†~¬†Suzanne O‚ÄôSullivan, Lothian Books, Hachette.¬†– my manuscript SIRONA”S SECRET came 3rd out of 36 entries.

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.

This weeks’ illustration is Week 35: Botany.

ReviMo – Revise More Picture Books Week – Day 1

A new year comes with new challenges.

I have already mentioned how I have started a new illustration challenge here:

52 week illustration challenge

My next challenge is by Meg Miller:

ReviMo РRevise More Picture Books Week Рfrom January 12-18, 2014. 



So today I sat down and looked back at an oldie but a goodie. I like to look at manuscripts that have been put to the side for a while as it helps me look back at them with fresh eyes. This particular manuscript was started in May 2012 and was received well by my critique group but it is a hard sell to publishers.

  • It is around 700 words (which is deemed as too long for picture books nowadays)
  • It is historical fiction (which I love and want to write more of for the younger age)
  • It is a sequence of letters back and forth between a 6 year old girl and her father in 1929
  • it possibly has a niche or small target market (Jersey folk – as in Old Jersey – and Australians)

It may be that I will have to self-publish it one day or it may really appeal to a publisher from a traditional house – who know’s in this tricky world of books.

It was good to go over it again and get it closer to the submitting stage which is what ReviMo is all about!


PiBoIdMo 2012 Complete

My lovely notebook now filled with a whole months worth of new ideas!
My lovely notebook now filled with a whole months worth of new ideas!

Yesterday I completed a writing challenge Рthe PiBoIdMo 2012 Рwhich stands for Picture Book Ideas Month. This is the second year that I have participated in this PiBoIdMo writing challenge. I have written previously about it here, PiBoIdMo 2012 and here, PiBoIdMo 2011.

The great thing about this challenge is that I now have 30 new picture book concepts that I can work on over the next year. Last year 2 out of the 30 ideas have turned into complete manuscripts. 2 others have potential and 1 has been turned into a middle grade chapter book. The challenge is great for encouraging you to brainstorm for new ideas. Some will never amount to anything, but that doesn’t matter.

This year I am quite excited about 2 of my ideas, 6 more have potential and I have even managed to come up with a couple of history themed picture books which of course is an area I really enjoy reading and writing about.

So, If you have also completed the challenge this year, don’t forget to sign the pledge over at Tara lazar’s website here: Take The PiBoIdMo 2012 Winner’s Pledge!

I'm a winner are you?
I’m a winner are you?

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 Рit 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 РNew 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!

World Read Aloud Day 2012

Today is ‘World Read Aloud Day’. To fing out more about this event click here.

So tonight I am reading a new book that arrived in the postbox today РMiss Brooks Loves Books by Barbara Bottner and brilliant illustrations by Michael Emberley.  Thank you Mr. Postman, such great timing!

This isn’t a book I have just chosen out of the blue, oh no, there was a perfectly good reason. Sometimes (and apparently more frequently) when you are submitting a manuscript, you can be asked to compare your story/concept to other books already out there. Mary Lindsey from QueryTracker.net also mentions this in her post: Query Letters: Constants and Not so Constants.

I have written a manuscript about a Librarian and have not read many books with this theme before, not even in my teaching years. Therefore I had to go on a hunt for books with Librarians in them. This led me to Miss Brooks Loves Books, which I found online eventually. I loved the synopsis and therefore decided to order it.

It is not always easy to find books that you can compare your own to. What happens if you can’t say my book is ? meets ?. Mary Lindsey says:

“This doesn’t work if you use little known or obscure references.”

Searching for similar themes and concepts to your own is a good lesson. Maybe there are hundreds out there already like your story idea. What then? Can you find a new angle to make it better? Give it a twist? These are challenges worth thinking about and even taking on!

And the bonus is you get to discover new authors and illustrators like I have with Miss Brook Loves Books! (and I don’t)


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!