PASS IT ON · Writing

Meet the writer – Heather Gallagher

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

The illustrators’ interviews, once they have been featured in the ezine, are uploaded onto this blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

Heather Gallagher

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Tuesday 26th April 2016 – issue 582

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

From the time I was about 8.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I was in Grade 4 and I’d written a whacky story about being trapped in a lift with a group of people. At the time I used to keep all sorts of weird stuff in my pockets. So in my story – I was the star, of course – I was able to throw stones at the window (of course lifts have windows – that’s a thing, right?) and smash it. Everyone was able to safely get out and I saved the day. My teacher Mrs Cunningham read this story out to the class and it was a big moment for me – it was when I decided to become a writer.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

My first book acceptance was in 2012. We’d just got back from a family holiday and I was checking my emails. I remember seeing the title of my manuscript Ferret on the Loose in the header and thinking ‘here we go, another rejection.’ It took me a few seconds to realise that the email actually said ‘we’d love to publish your story’. I started screaming and running around the house. My family thought there was something seriously wrong. I could barely speak – I was ecstatic!

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I love writing crazy animal stories particularly for the 8 to 12 year old market.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I began professionally writing as a journalist in the late 90s. But prior to that I’d written diaries, stories and poems. I wrote for the (now defunct) school magazines put out by Pearson Education. My first short story was published in Challenge magazine. Since then I have had a short story published in blackdog books Short & Scary anthology, Ferret (as mentioned above) and the picture book Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so sad? 

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

I have a soft-spot for Ferret because it had such a long genesis and was my first proper book. But I’m also loving The Great Ape Escape which is my current work-in-progress.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I love middle grade novels because anything is possible.  That said, I also love reading YA because like the protagonists, I guess I’m still figuring out my place in the world.

Do you have a favourite author?

Road Dahl and currently, David Walliams. I also love Kate Di Camillo and Rebecca Stead.

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

Hazel Edwards mentored me during the Maurice Saxby mentorship. I have also received informal mentoring from some of the people I met through that mentorship, namely Helen Chamberlin and Kevin Burgemesetre. Claire Saxby and many members of the First Tuesday Book Group have also been very supportive and encouraging.

How do they encourage you?

Hazel gave me some great nuts and bolts advice on improving my picture book manuscripts. Helen and Kevin advised me during a tricky time with one of my manuscripts, just before it went to print. Claire is a great role model and has really encouraged me to persevere.

Do you write full time?

Yes.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so sad? was a recommended title in the Australian Family Therapists literature awards.
In 2009, I was awarded a special judge’s prize in the FAW Nairda Lyn Short Story awards.

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I am a member of Writers Victoria and the Australian Society of Authors. Mostly, they help me to feel ‘in the loop’ in terms of industry news and opportunities.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

I did a large part of the Diploma of Screenwriting at RMIT which has helped a lot with structuring my work. It also helps me to ‘see in pictures’ which I think helps with picture book writing. I have also done lots of short courses with Writers Victoria, a particularly good one I did recently was on Pitching with Melanie Ostell.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

The best way to contact me is by email at heather.gallagher@bigpond.com

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Glue your bum to your desk chair and just write. Remember CRAP IS GOOD – everyone has to write something not-so-great before they can write something brilliant J

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

http://heathergallagher.com.au/HeatherGallagher/
https://www.facebook.com/heathergallagherkidswriter/

Also I have just started a Mother-Daughter blog with my teenager. You can find us at https://likemotherlikedaughter2016.wordpress.com/

PASS IT ON · Writing

Meet the writer – Deborah Kelly

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

The illustrators’ interviews, once they have been featured in the ezine, are uploaded onto this blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

Deborah Kelly

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Tuesday 15th March 2016 – issue 577

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I grew up on a farm in New Zealand where my family grew green beans and garlic. I moved to Australia when I was sixteen but have also lived in Scotland and Japan. I have a degree in Marine Biology. I love to swim and I practice yoga every day.
I live in NSW with my husband, two children and a very mischievous dog.

When did you know that you were a writer?

I can’t recall ever not being a writer! I remember writing poems, stories and letters from a very young age. And I always kept diaries-when I was at school, while I travelled and when I became a mother for the first time. I’ve done all sorts of jobs but whatever I have done and wherever I have been, writing has always been there in the background-like a reliable friend.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

When I was seven I wrote my first series of ‘picture books’ about a prince called Puku (I grew up in New Zealand and the word ‘puku’ is Maori for belly!). On the back of each book I drew two columns: Name and Comment. Friends and family were allowed to read each story and write a comment but I insisted it be in pencil ONLY (just in case someone wrote a bad review)! Just as well the comments were all nice-otherwise I might not have kept writing!

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

In 2012 I participated in a ‘pitch to the publishers’ session at the NSW Writers’ Centre. I had precisely two minutes (they had a timer!) to pitch my story to a panel of publishers. I pitched a story I’d written about my Nana, who was a Hungarian refugee. An editor from Random House contacted me a day or two later wanting to meet in Sydney to discuss the manuscript. Random House decided to publish Jam for Nana. They also took another picture book text I had written which became The Bouncing Ball. I was on cloud nine for weeks!

You write stories in a range of formats-which do you prefer and why?

I have written short stories, picture books, chapter books and educational readers for kids.
I love all of these forms and enjoy switching back and forth between them as each offer their own challenges and rewards.
I am enjoying writing the Ruby Wishfingers series because the longer format has enabled me to explore my characters in more depth-both within each book and across the series.

 

What have you written?

My picture books include The Bouncing Ball (Random House 2013), Jam for Nana (Random House 2014) Dinosaur Disco(Random House 2015). I have two more picture books due out next year; Me and You (Penguin 2017) and an untitled picture book with EK Books (2017).

 

 

 

I have written short stories for Random House’s Stories for Boys and Stories for Girls collections. I also have a story in Hunter Anthologies’ Sproutlings collection which is released in April this year.

I have also written books for the educational market: Sam’s Great Invention (Macmillan Education 2013) and Don’t Sweat It (Macmillan Education 2013)

I recently completed the first three books in a junior fiction series called Ruby Wishfingers for Wombat Books.  Ruby Wishfingers: Skydancer’s Escape was released on March 1st this year. Ruby Wishfingers 2: Toad-ally Magic and the third book in the Ruby Wishfingers series will both come out this year.

In addition to writing for children, I write Haiku poetry which has been published in various forms from magazines to anthologies to interactive maps. My own collection Haiku Journey was published in 2015. I wrote it during the two years I spent living and working in Japan.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

All of them are special to me but my favourite tends to be the one I’m currently working on because that is where my heart is at that time.

What are you currently working on?      

I have almost finished writing the third book in the Ruby Wishfingers series for Wombat Books. I plan to work on a couple of picture book texts next and after that I would like to explore an idea I have for a middle grade novel.

Do you have a favourite children’s book?

There are so many fantastic children’s books out there that I find it impossible to pick just one favourite.

My favourite chapter book as a child was Maurice Gee’s ‘The World Around the Corner’. I loved the idea that a whole other world existed right in the middle of suburban New Zealand.

More recently, Morris Gleitzman’s Once, Then, Now, After series left a lasting impact on me.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

Jeanette Winterson, Jhumpa Lahiri, Khaled Hosseini and Markus Zsusak are some of my favourite authors of books for adults.

My favourite children’s authors include Morris Gleitzman, Aaron Blabey, Margaret Wild, Jackie French, Maurice Gee and of course Roald Dahl.

Who has helped you along your writing journey?

So many people have helped me along my writing journey.
Teachers, librarians, friends and family members, my agent, fellow authors and illustrators. The editors and publishers who believed in my work and have taught me so much. Not to mention all the parents, grandparents and kids who come along to my events, buy or borrow my books and take the time to let me know they enjoyed them. It means so much to a writer, especially on days when they are plagued with self-doubt!
Some people say it takes a whole village to raise a child. I believe that it takes a whole community to support an author!

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

I work as a mentor for the Hunter Writers’ Centre in Newcastle. I enjoy meeting other writers and helping where I can. I run Haiku poetry workshops for kids. I love to encourage creativity in children through my workshops- it comes so naturally to them and its such an important thing to hold onto.

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I am an active member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Newcastle Sub-branch. The CBCA provides a wonderful opportunity to mix with other local authors, illustrators, librarians and teachers-or anyone else interested in children’s books. The CBCA also provides plenty of opportunities for authors to promote their work and also to give back to the community. I have found it to be a great source of encouragement and support in what can be quite a tough industry. I have also made some wonderful friends through the CBCA.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

I have attended many writing workshops and am always on the lookout for more.
The first one I attended was run by Margaret Hamilton at Pinerolo, her picture book cottage in the Blue Mountains. We sat around the fire eating a beautiful Italian lunch Margaret had made, talked about picture books and listened to Dee Huxley give us a fascinating insight into the illustrator’s world. It was a wonderful introduction to the world of picture books!
I have attended many courses at the NSW Writers’ Centre in Rozelle including a wonderful workshop by Jacqueline Harvey who talked about her bestselling Alice Miranda books. I have also attended workshops at the Hunter Writers’ Centre here in Newcastle. Kerri Lane’s workshop ‘Writing for the Educational Market’ introduced me to a completely different part of the publishing industry.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

I run a fun-filled, hands on Haiku Poetry writing workshop for primary school aged students which includes a Japanese morning or afternoon tea!

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

I frequently visit schools, literary festivals and libraries to talk about writing and to share my books.
Please visit my website http://www.deborahkelly.com.au
Or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahKellyChildrensAuthor/
And be sure to check out Ruby Wishfingers’ own website, full of fun activities and resources relating to the books, as well as teachers notes and information for parents.
http://www.rubywishfingers.com.au

 

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Learn how to take constructive criticism from those in the know. Attend as many writers’ festivals and author run workshops as you can. And join your local CBCA branch-it’s a fabulous source of information and support!

PASS IT ON · Writing

Meet the writer – Lynn Ward

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

 

Lynn Ward

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 29th February 2016 – issue 575

 

 

When did you know that you were a writer? 

I still have doubts when calling myself a writer but I think I knew I wanted to write from a very early age, however it took me until I was forty to decide to pursue publication.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

My family have always been the go-to critics, although I have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Everything is ‘lovely’ and ‘great’. It is a good morale booster, but as an editing tool – it’s totally worthless J
When I first decided to write for children I was quite sure my manuscript was ‘lovely’ and ‘great’ so I asked a teacher friend to read it for me. Her reaction was underwhelming. She pointed out that it was much like many others she had read. I got a similar comment when I won a picture book writing competition run by Di Bates. Di said that I could obviously write well but that my subject matter was letting me down. Both of those comments disappointed me at the time but it was the best feedback I could have had, because over the years I have learnt to write well, but I know that unless I find something to make my manuscript stand out from the rest, I may very well stay in the slush pile an awfully long time (sometimes my fingers turn into prunes I am in there so long!)

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

My first acceptance was a story in The NSW School Magazine. It felt amazing. To have validation that someone who didn’t know me still liked my work was incredible.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I adore writing picture books and I particularly enjoy writing in rhyme. I try sometimes to write in prose, but more often than not, it still comes to me in rhyme.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I have been writing with the aim of publication for about fifteen years. I started off with stories in the NSW School Magazine, and some short works with online magazines before having my first picture books published. The Big Beet was published in 2013 by Omnibus Books (Scholastic) and Sally Snickers’ Knickers was published in 2014 by Walker Books Australia. A Perfect Place for Wombat (tentative title) will be published by Omnibus Books in 2016.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Probably one of my unpublished manuscripts is my favourite and that is because it includes all my grandchildren’s names. I think it is still a good story, despite the sentimentality of my character name choices. It’s called Benji the Bare-Bottom Dragon, and it recently placed First in the Writers Unleashed Picture Book Writing Competition.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

As well as devouring picture books I also do read books for adults. I enjoy crime/thrillers and a bit of chick lit.

Do you have a favourite author?

I love children’s authors Julia Donaldson, Bob Graham, Mem Fox, Dr Suess… the list could go on. As far as chick lit goes my favourites are Marian Keyes and Cathy Kelly. I find I enjoy most crime/thriller authors.

Do you write full time?

No. I have an office job. If writing paid well enough I would do it full-time though.

What are your other jobs?

I work in a small school (13 students in total!) in the office and as a teacher’s assistant. It is a great job, except that I’d rather be writing.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

Sally Snickers’ Knickers was shortlisted in the 2015 Speech Pathology of Australia awards which was very exciting.

I have also placed in a number of competitions, including a few Firsts.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

I participated in a two-day workshop with Jeni Mawter many moons ago when I was starting out and I found that inspiring. I have done online courses with Libby Gleeson and with Thomson Direct where Jill McDougall was my tutor. I also attended the Ballarat Writers’ Conference a few years ago. I would dearly love to attend more festivals and workshops but I find that having to work full-time and living in central western NSW restricts my options somewhat.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

I have just started an online proofreading/editing service for picture book texts. I hope I will be able to help other keen writers who might be just starting out, or established writers who simply need another set of eyes over their manuscript.
Find me on polishyourpicturebook.blogspot.com
That’s Polish Your Picture Book – remember the name.

I don’t run workshops although I have delivered addresses to both CWA and Rotary groups, as well as doing readings at schools. I will usually have a bit of fun with the readings by including the audience as characters. This works particularly well with Sally Snickers’ Knickers when it comes time for the teacher to wear her knickers on her head.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

My email address is lynnward1@bigpond.com

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

With picture books less is more. Remember that half your book belongs to the illustrator. Allow them room to do their job. When editing a picture book you are more likely to be removing superfluous words than adding any extra.

Don’t be too quick to finish your manuscript and send it off. Let it simmer quietly for awhile, come back to it, taste it, perhaps give it a stir. Then simmer some more. When you’re really sure it doesn’t need anything added or taken away – only then should you send it off.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

My webpage is: www.lynnwardauthor.blogspot.com

My Editing Service can be found at: www.polishyourpicturebook.blogspot.com

and  I am on Facebook, look for Lynn Ward – Author

PASS IT ON · Picturebooks · Writing

Meet the Writer – Karen Hendriks

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog. This takes time and I’m often running behind but from now on I’m hoping to keep this up to date.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go please meet….

Karen Hendriks

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 18th January 2016 – issue 569

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

This year when I decided to follow my dream and write.  I have always wanted to write but you are not a writer until you commit.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I have been reading my stories each week to children  from Kindergarten to Year six at school which has been extremely rewarding and I have even received author letters from them and some are now wanting to be writer’s themselves.   The snowball effect.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

None yet just writing getting ready for my first submissions. Yeeks.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

Children’s picture books yay

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

This year .  Some of my stories are called Wombat Cuddles, Happy, A very Clever Plan, Scaredy Pants or It is Only the Night, Clever Sneaky, Mr Brown, my favs are Wombat Cuddles  and It is only the Night.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Wombat Cuddles and It is only the Night and the students at school love them and want them as books. They have drawn pictures and written me letters as and author and also about the characters.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

Children’s Picture books and self help books

Do you have a favourite author?

Mem Fox, Lynley Dodd, Libby Gleeson, Joy Cowley

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

No not yet but Mem Fox is my hero and Joy Cowley sent me her book writing for children such a creative, gorgeous lady.

How do they encourage you?

I met Mem and she was amazing and Joy wrote to me.

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

Yes last term I have been teaching Creative Writing to Stage two and Three Students.  I had no idea that my actions would ripple through the school it has really shown me that I am a writer.

Do you write full time?

No

What are your other jobs?

Casual teacher

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?
No

Have you ever been awarded a grant? How did it help you?

No

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

ASA
Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

Yes I have been to Cathy Tasker’s writing picture books course and one other course in Beecroft.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

For the school students we have been looking at techniques in picture books and doing fun little activities based on this.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

Via email, mobile or Facebook.  I would love to do this immensely . I was going to visit local schools to gauge their responses to my stories.

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Yes writing and reading go hand in hand together.  I am Reading Recovery Trained, L3trained, learning difficult and ESL trained, behavioural difficulty trained and no matter what Reading and writing go together. Reading seems to takeoff first. A world of possibilities is opened through both.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

Email, Karen Hendriks Facebook

PASS IT ON

PASS IT ON turns 400!

When I adopted PASS IT ON (originally known as CAINON) from Di Bates back in 2004 I must admit that I did it for entirely selfish reasons. As a new writer, a very new writer I was desperate to be in the know.

Di asked for someone to take over CAINON (Children’s and Illustrators Networking Online Newsletter) after she had produced it for twenty weeks and me, being very much a believer in

Jeff Doherty

the Little Red Hen philosophy, put my hand up.

Di asked that I change the name which I did and the rest is history.

Eight years later and we’re still here passing on information, sharing industry news and generally supporting one another week in week out.

This afternoon I’ve been reliving memories, scanning over past issues and loving how generous the PIO subscribers are.

Originally PIO didn’t really look like a e-zine, more a very large email chopped into sections. There were no pictures or illustrations and you couldn’t click on the contents’ links (this little gem appeared in issue 70, thanks to the help of  Bren MacDibble).

If you’re interested in seeing some of the early issues I uploaded them to a blog – the formatting is a bit haywire but it’s interesting to see what we were talking about back in 2005.

In November 2005, thanks to Marg McAlister, I learnt how to create a more professional looking e-zine. This evolved in October 2006 with the inclusion of a PIO logo. Who remembers this?

It was supposed to symbolise the bigger, more experienced writer “passing on” their knowledge to the writer-ling. I was very pleased when I found that in clip art, very pleased indeed. And slowly but surely, book covers began to appear as well as all sorts of other colourful additions.

Then in January of 2008 I thought it might be fun to frighten you all with this ridiculous face, you’ll note, for those of you who      currently  subscribe to PIO, that a small version of this photo, still appears each week, I’m not sure why, I think it’s just that old habits die hard.

After 6 weeks of seeing my very cheery face, an illustrator friend, Teresa Lawrence suggested a brand new segment – Illustration of the Week and so was born PIO, the Children’s Writers’ AND Illustrators’ Networking E-zine.

Since issue 183 with Marjory Gardner’s first illustration, PIO has profiled over 200 very talented illustrators and as you know I am always on the lookout for new ones.

In June of 2009 clip art delivered a new logo. I liked this one because in showed exactly what PIO is all about – connecting through our computers.

This logo still appears in current issues and I think it will probably stay.

So today I sent out issue 400 which equates to about 8 years of weekly e-zines. If you subscribe or if you have every subscribed I’d love for you send in a little comment. There are so many of you now and I know how busy you all are but it would really mean a lot if you could give a little wave to celebrate what has been a wonderful 8 years and hopefully there will be another 8 more.

Thanks everyone – see you next week.

 

 

PASS IT ON

In this week’s PASS IT ON

Each week PASS IT ON profiles a different illustrator.  Along with a chosen illustration, each illustrator then answers the following questions…

  1. What’s this illustration for? 
  2. Do you have to wait for a flash of inspiration – how do you start?
  3. How did you get your start as an illustrator?
  4. Who or what has influenced your work?
  5. What’s your favourite media for creating pictures?
  6. Do you experience illustrator’s block – if so, what do you do about it?
  7. What’s the worst thing about being a freelancer?
  8. And the best?
  9. What are you working on at the moment?
  10. Where can we see more of your work?

In this week’s issue we get up close and personal with Lynn Priestley.

PASS IT ON is always on the look out for illustrators to profile.  Since March 2008 we have profiled in excess of 300 illustrators – the talent around is amazing but we’re always on the look out for more. For a look at past interviews you can visit this blog

Children’s Book Illustrators – A Showcase

If you are an illustrator or you know an illustrator who might be interested in being profiled, please do get in touch jackiehoskingATbigpondDOTcom

Also in this week’s issue we list 5 competitions for children’s writers, book reviews, upcoming events as well as many other opportunities.

Keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry with an easy to read, weekly e-zine, delivered to your inbox every Monday.

Illustration · PASS IT ON · Picturebooks

What you will find in this week’s issue (362) of PASS IT ON

Serena Geddes

 

In this week’s issue of PIO you will find an illustrator profile from Serena Geddes.

Opportunities for picture book writers and short story writers.

Information about upcoming events relevant to the children’s book writing and illustrating industry including an evening of enchantment with Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab and a book launch with Hazel Edwards.

You’ll find useful books, websites and blogs and book reviews from Deb Abela.

If you don’t yet subscribe to PASS IT ON and you’d like to take a look at a recent issue please do get in touch.

Happy Days…see you next week.

Jackie 🙂

 

Illustration · PASS IT ON · Publishing

What will you find in this week’s PASS IT ON?

A wonderful illustration by Kimberly Moon as well as profile where she shares her illustrating secrets.

Many new special events including book launches, writing festivals, author and illustrator talks.

Seven new opportunities for children’s writers and illustrators.

A spooky writing competition is also listed as well as few tips from the Book Trailers session held by Tristan Bancks who appeared at the recent CYA conference in Brisbane.

There are book reviews, useful blogs and websites and also the link to an interview with me at the Kids Book Review site. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it…

http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2011/09/interview-passing-it-on-with-jackie.html

Once again I’d like to thank everyone who contributed this week and I’d also like to post that I am on the hunt for children’s book illustrators to profile. If you’re looking for exposure PIO is the place to hang out. Many Australian children’s book publishers subscribe to PIO and your illustration is the first thing they see on a Monday morning. Please do get in touch or pass on this call to any illustrators that you know.

And if you don’t yet subscribe to PIO, at $38/per year (80 cents/week) – it’s got to be the best valued newsletter around.

What are you waiting for?

 

PASS IT ON · Picturebooks · Publishing · Writing

Tania McCartney’s Blog Tour continues….

Today as promised Tania McCartney, author of the Riley series is visiting my blog. She will be sharing her self-publishing journey with us so sit back and enjoy…

There is a review of the book at the end of Tania’s story and a competition giving you the chance to win a copy of the book.

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Blog Tour

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat

My Self-Publishing Journey

Thursday 8 September

Pass It On

www.jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com

I’ve always written. One of my greatest treasures is my Grade 3 English book with the puppy dog sticker on the front – and a jumble of fantastical stories and glittery stickers inside. The bigger and more glittery your sticker, the better your work – and I still feel the thump of my eight-year-old heart when I run my hand over a particular sticker of some kids riding a 1960s ferris wheel, bespangled with glitz and covering a full half-page.

Hang literary awards – that sticker is one of my greatest literary achievements, ever.

Since my grade-three tales, I’ve spent many years writing in many genre. In 1995 I had my first book published with Hodder Headline (You Name It, a non-fiction adult book) and over the decades have had countless magazine and online articles published, but it was only since having kids that my attention turned to the children’s book genre.

I have a wee bit of an obsession with kids’ books, truth be told. I love the pictures. I love the stories that colour in our kids’ brains like an activity book and a box full of crayons. I love fun children’s books, traditional ones, magical ones, educational and just plain nonsense ones. I even love the smell of them.

But what a dream to actually publish your own children’s picture book. What a dream to see the contents of your head down on paper; flickable. What a dream to entrance and inspire children in any way, shape or form. But how to make this dream a reality?

I’ve received enough publisher rejection slips to pâpier maché the Outback. There’s been a lot of despair, frustration and tears shed in this writer’s lifetime, trust me, but forging ahead despite setbacks is relatively ‘easy’ because I love to write. I need to write.

In 2005, whilst on post in China with my family, I finally found myself in a position to write full time – and in 2008, I finished penning a picture book called Riley and the Sleeping Dragon: A journey around Beijing. I was tempted to send it to Australian publishers but after spending many years watching time slide away – with naught but “we’re considering, we’ll get back to you in 8-12 weeks” slips in the mail, I decided to do something out of the ordinary – I decided to publish myself.

The self-publishing process, at first glance, is most certainly overwhelming. Now that I have four successful self-published books in the bag, the single most frequent question I hear is “but how did you do it?”.

I must admit, when I first passed thought to self-publishing Riley and the Sleeping Dragon, my head was swamped with an enormous ocean and there was that original, ambitious thought, bobbing in the centre of that ocean – a teensy speck amongst the galloping waves.

Where to start? Who what when where how?

So, I took small steps. I’ve written and edited countless articles and manuscripts and I have to say there is not much more valuable than the opinion of someone you respect. I asked some brutally honest people to read my manuscript and the feedback was good.

Shortly afterwards, I took it to the most important critics of all – the kids. The test audience reaction was also excellent. So far, so good.

Next was researching the target market. I needed to understand who the book was for (the English-speaking expat community in China was my initial focus, with Australian children a target for when I returned home), and what ages and what genre the book fell into. Because the project was so large and I was doing it on my own, my main focus was penetrating the expat community in China, and as a well-known family matters columnist and features editor for several English language magazines, I was fortunate to have a high level of exposure and marketing aid, not only in Beijing but other major Chinese cities.

I also needed to seek a niche. As a multi-media book combining scenic photos, graphics, photos of objects and cartoon illustrations, I knew the layout of the book was unusual. I also knew the travelogue style was unique and therefore felt confident it would attract attention in an oversaturated market. I honestly feel that seeking a solid niche is vital for new books to stand out.

Gathering the basics to actually publish the book was very straight forward. I easily sourced ISBNs, barcodes and the info required for my Cataloguing in Publication Entry data. All done by email.

Whilst waiting for these things to arrive, I sourced an illustrator online. I used a Canadian whose work was good but whose time management skills and demands sent me into a flying panic close to book launch time. Finding the right illustrator is absolutely crucial – not only for their talent and style, but for the author/illustrator relationship. I later found a new artist for subsequent books in the Riley series – and Canberra-based Kieron Pratt is an author’s dream (plus, he just happens to make me laugh hysterically on a regular basis).

Once I began working the manuscript into picture form, I found I needed to buy new software (Adobe Illustrator) in order to create print-ready files. Learning how to implement and use this software was vital, and I’m still learning how to use it effectively, four books later.

Whilst working on the book files, I began researching how to list my books with Nielsen Book Data and Global Books in Print, and began contacting both the media and literature organisations such as the Children’s Book Council of Australia, various state writing centres, the Australian School Library Association and others.

During this time, I located a reliable printer (in Beijing). Shopping around for the right one is crucial – and for my second and third Riley books, I sourced a fantastic Australian printer whose prices were highly competitive, without compromising quality.

I was very nervous about bringing Riley and the Sleeping Dragon home to Australia. I spent countless hours researching and implementing how to get my book into the mainstream market here, and was enormously grateful to be taken on by a major book distributor – Dennis Jones & Associates – who now carry all four of my self-published books.

Since releasing Riley and the Dancing Lion: A journey around Hong Kong (2009) and Riley and the Curious Koala: A journey around Sydney (2010), I’ve tirelessly promoted all three of my Riley books at countless schools, libraries, clubs and events – not to mention online. This is vital for self-publishers and it really is full time work.

I began constructing teachers’ notes for my books, and wrote teaching modules on book writing and publishing, to be presented with book readings at schools. I even implemented a successful Writer in Residence programme at a Canberra school that mimicked the production of the book.

I was and still am ceaseless in my efforts to promote my beloved travelogue series. It’s been incredibly hard work, but I’ve always been driven by an insatiable desire to create educational, enchanting and beautiful books for children. When Paul Collins expressed the desire to take on Book Four in the series (Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne), I wondered if perhaps my self-publishing journey was coming to an end.

Letting go of creating, producing and publishing my own books is a bittersweet thought. I’ve loved every moment and have taken great pride in this intense and incredibly overwhelming journey, but I also know if I want to write more books, I need the time (and energy!) to write them. Having Ford Street take on Grumpy Wombat not only takes my work to a whole other level, it affords me greater time to write – and I’m already working on Book Five which will be set in Canberra and involves a very jumpy kangaroo.

Whether you are a published author or a hopeful newbie, the prime consideration in any publishing journey is to be prepared to work tirelessly and passionately to implement the birth of your work. Whether it’s via the traditional publishing route or the self-publishing slog, the dream is possible. Just don’t wake me up.

To see all of Tania’s self-published and published books, see www.taniamccartney.com.

_______________________________________________________

Book Review

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A Journey around Melbourne

Tania McCartney, illustrations by Kieron Pratt, A$22.95, hardcover

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat – A journey around Melbourne was such fun to read being a Melbourne girl. And Riley is such a cute character. Beginning his adventure making mud pies (I loved making mud pies) in his Nanny’s garden, the helpful soul is determined to find out why the resident, fleeing wombat is so grumpy.

Aboard his red plane Riley and co. fly around Melbourne searching for the grumpy wombat.

The book then continues with Riley’s red plane superimposed onto gorgeous black and white photographs of Melbourne and Victoria.

The Great Ocean Road

I was particularly fond of this one as I made the sea change about 12 years ago and adore having this view in my back yard.

Children will thoroughly enjoy gliding around in Riley’s red plane discovering the Victorian treasures not realising that they are absorbing a geography lesson as they do so.

And of course the book ends happily with Riley finding the wombat back in Nanny’s backyard, not grumpy in her burrow but lazing in the lap of luxury, in a brand new mud villa!

Too funny 🙂

Short Author Bio

Tania McCartney is an author, editor, publisher and founder of well-respected children’s literature site, Kids Book Review. She is an experienced speaker, magazine and web writer, photographer and marshmallow gobbler. She is the author of the popular Riley the Little Aviator series of travelogue picture books, and is both published and self-published in children’s fiction and adult non-fiction. Tania lives in Canberra with a husband, two kidlets and a mountain of books.

www.taniamccartney.com

www.kids-bookreview.com


Win a copy of…

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat

Riley has discovered a wombat in his nanny’s garden. But why is this furry creature so grumpy? Join Riley and his friends from books one, two and three, as they zoom around the stunning sights of Melbourne in search of a wombat that simply needs a place to call home.

Featuring gorgeous black and white photos of Melbourne and surrounds, Riley and the Grumpy Wombat combines photos, illustrations, adorable characters, humour and an adventuresome storyline in a travelogue-style book that showcases Melbourne at its very best.

www.fordstreetpubishing.com

What do you need to do?

In the comments section…

.

Write a short poem or limerick about your favourite Melbourne spot.

.

My favourite will win a copy of Tania’s book, the 4th in the Riley the little Aviator series.

.

Good luck!

And thank you Tania for sharing your incredibly inspiring journey.

.

Illustration · PASS IT ON · Picturebooks · Publishing · Writing

Inside this week’s issue of PASS IT ON

Christina Bollenbach

In this week’s PIO we profile illustrator Christina Bollenbach as she showcases an illustration from her picture book A Monster for Lukas.

We highlight the 2012 National Year of Reading ‘soft launch’ at Bialik College, in Melbourne with patron William McInnes,  Reading Ambassadors Alison Lester and Hazel Edwards.

We list 14 special events of interest to children’s writers and illustrators including festivals, books launches, blog tours and talks.

We include a writing opportunity for educational authors, two competitions and a number of workshops.

Dee White writes on whether or not to go to conferences and author Tania McCartney is profiled.

We include 5 new book reviews and list some very useful blogs and websites.

Tomorrow Tania McCartney will be visiting this blog as part of her Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Blog Tour where she will be discussing her self publishing journey.

I will also include a review of her book along with a chance for you to receive a free copy of Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne.

Once again I’d like to thank everyone who contributed industry news to this week’s PIO and if you are not yet a subscriber and would like to see a copy of this week’s issue please do get in touch. At 75cents/week you can’t afford to be without it.

See you tomorrow 🙂