Writing

Meet the writer – Katrina McKelvey

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….

Katrina McKelvey

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 7th March 2016 – issue 576

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

I started writing for children in early 2011 after I had put primary teaching aside to be a full-time mum. My first child was born in 2008 so over the next 3 years I looked for the perfect job that would mix my teaching experiences with a new, flexible career. I had children’s books all around me and I was very passionate about my children falling in love with books as early as possible. Writing for children made complete sense to me.

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 joined a writing course about a year after I started writing for children. It was facilitated by Libby Gleeson in conjunction with the Centre for Continuing Education at The University of Sydney. I travelled from Newcastle to Sydney once a week for 8 weeks. It was during the 6th visit (I think) I read my first ever manuscript aloud to a room full of strangers. They made some great suggestions for improvement. Looking back now I can see it was dreadful. That manuscript is still in the bottom drawer but I still believe in it. I’ll revive it one day and give it another shot.

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

I was driving to Canberra for the CBCA National Conference in 2014. I just happen to be in the car with Kirrili Lonergan, the hopeful illustrator. We found out together we were being contracted as an author/illustrator team to create ‘Dandelions’. We discovered the news via a text message as our publisher didn’t want us to crash the car – ha! We pulled over and read it on the side of the highway. Later that evening we toasted our success with champagne in the foyer of the  Australian National Library.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I love writing picture books as it is so much fun playing with words and playing with how they fall on the page (that’s as close to illustrating as I will get). But I’m dabbling with writing early chapter books. They give me more freedom as I tend to write too much.

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

I’ve been writing for 5 years now. I’ve written many manuscripts about animals, disasters, farting, and skateboarding. Some are humorous, and some more serious and whimsical.

‘Dandelions’ illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan, published by EK Books in October, 2015 was my second attempt at writing a picture book.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I love reading picture books and funny chapter books. I need the pictures, the fun texts, the humour, and the text in small chunks to keep me interested. I love reading with my children. I absolutely loved reading to my students in the classroom too – anything that hooked them.

Do you have a favourite author?

No, I have many! Stephen Michael King, Libby Gleeson, Sara Acton, Nick Bland, Aaron Blabey, Danny Parker, Glenda Millard, Bob Graham …

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

I facilitate the Hunter Writers Centre Children’s Writing Group. We meet monthly to guide, inspire, critique and offer each other advice and inspiration. I absolutely love meeting with these people. We laugh so much and always go home with a spring in our steps.

Do you write full time?

No. But I wish I could sometimes.

I’m trying to become a master of multi-tasking  and to be more disciplined.  My children are so young and I want to fit their needs in around my writing. At best, I get about 4 hours a day uninterrupted and then some of that time is used to do social media, administration etc. School hours always go faster than any other hours in the day! The rest of the day is full of sporting commitments, preparing meals, homework, managing the family diary, and cleaning up cat vomit.

What are your other jobs?

Mum to two children, wife, Books In Homes Role Model, CBCA (NSW) Newcastle Sub-branch President, Newcastle Writers Festival committee member, P&F President, household manager, counsellor, gardener, first aid officer, cleaner, psychologist, referee, taxi driver, financial manager, secretary, magician, need I go on?

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

I came third in a CYA Conference Picture Book Writing Competition in 2013.

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

CBCA
ASA
SCBWI
NSW Writer’s Centre
Hunter Writers Centre

These organisations offer advice, access to workshops/courses/conferences/services, and help me to keep in touch with the industry. Through these organisations I have been able to meet a lot of my writing and illustrating friends. Support comes in many different forms and from many different places. All of these organisations contribute to my support network in someway.

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

Yes, I go to as many as I can. I have attended conferences and festivals up and down the east coast. I love listening to and learning from fellow colleagues – and as a bonus I get to make new friends along the way.

The first ever workshop I attended was with Jacqueline Harvey through the Sydney Writers Festival in 2011. I still remember sitting in that room listening to her every word. I knew no one. I wrote so many notes. I was a sponge!

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

I plan to do these in the future. At the moment I’m concentrating on school visits. I’m also throwing myself out there to do author talks, panel speaking and chair appointments for festivals and conferences.

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

Website: http://www.katrinamckelvey.com
Email: katrinamckelvey@bigpond.com

I’d love to participate in festivals and conferences as well. Book me!

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

  1. Be patient, persistent, and passionate. But above all – practise!
  2. Listen and observe.
  3. Start building your social media platform immediately.
  4. Get to know your local children’s authors and illustrators – they could become your best friends.
  5. Have fun!

Where you can find me…

Website: www.katrinamckelvey.com
Blog: http://katrinamckelvey.blogspot.com.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katrinamckelveyauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/katrinamckelvey
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/katrinamckelvey/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katrinamckelvey/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgfVHAHyIHP14oeEkGl2jtA

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

Writing

Meet the writer – Goldie Alexander

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….

 

Goldie Alexander

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 22nd February 2016 – issue 574

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

I only became serious about becoming a professional author when I was in my forties. But I was a very serious reader from the age of three. I believe this is what creates the writer, apart from imagination and perseverance.

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 had a cousin who was a famous writer and I gave him one of my short stories. He was totally scathing abut it without being helpful. I might have been totally put off except I decided to ignore him. But it’s wise to keep in mind how vulnerable inexperienced writers can be. The cousin’s attitude never changed, no matter how many of my books were published. He always pretended I was that novice.

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

Tremendously excited. I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to write four ‘Dolly Fictions’ and because the instructions were very precise they taught me a lot about the craft. Back then there were no creative writing classes. I wrote those 4 novels under a pseudonym so when the first book under my own name ‘Mavis Road Medley’ appeared that was a great cause for celebration.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I’m a jack of all trades. I write in almost every genre (except horror, eroticism or film scripts) for both adults and kids of all ages. I like to float between genres, viewing each new take as a challenge.

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

I have written over 85 fictions and non fictions, many short stories, scripts and about a million articles. Just kidding! If anyone is interested most of longer works are on my website. These include 3 collections of short stories amounting to 30 stories condensed from longer work I wrote when the market was down and publishers taking very little. The secret is to be adaptable.

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

The last thing I wrote. Then none of it because I never feel that anything is quite good enough.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I am a voracious reader. However I tend to stick to literary work these days. I’m probably the last of a dying species. I belong to 2 bookclubs, an adult and a children’s and both meet monthly. That means 4 books every month, plus whatever others recommend. I have become lazy about finding hardcopy and read just about everything except picture story books on my kindle. It’s soooo easy to just download!

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

I taught part time Creative Writing at Holmesglen TAFE for fourteen years. I have also over the years mentored young authors for the Australian Society of Authors

Do you write full time?

Most writers write full time even if they don’t sit at their computers. We constantly mull over possibilities and observe our surroundings for inspiration. Does that man on the tram look as if he takes good care of his kids? Does that bunch of schoolboys bully others? Using public transport is an excellent way of creating convincing characters. At my age I have become invisible. If age has its drawbacks it is also very useful for observing people’s idiosyncratic behaviour.

What are your other jobs?

Boring housework. Is that still considered a job? My family are all grown and where my contemporaries are babysitting grandchildren, ours are either grown or live interstate.

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

Yes. Please check my website for details. My awards in 2015 are for the verse novel ‘In Hades’ shortlisted for an Aurealis Award. And a 1st prize for the Rolfe Boldewood short story literary award.

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

These days I only belong to ASA, SCBWI, Writer’s Victoria. They tell me what is going on, provide
legal protection and have me knowing I belong to a fellowship. Writing can be a very lonely game.

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

No, I ran them. I had wonderful students. Some became well known and celebrated authors

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

Yes I do run workshops on all aspects of writing for young readers. In particular, fictionalising history, writing science fiction and fantasy, writing mysteries and creating convincing characters. For adults I run writing memoir workshops that are extremely popular.

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

I do this quite frequently and happy to be asked. I can be emailed on goldie@goldiealexander.comor contacted via my webpage or mobile. 0413408468

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

In one word: perseverance. Don’t let anyone or any situation put you off.

How might people find you? 

www.goldiealexander.com
www.goldiealexander/com/blog
twitter/com goldie alexander
facebook/com: goldie alexander.

Writing

Meet the writer – Cate Whittle

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….

 

Cate Whittle

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 15th February 2016 – issue 573

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

Um… somebody gave me a pencil?

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 that precocious kid who insisted on boring my friends with stories I had written… think rainy days (there were a lot of rainy days) with a torch in a blanket cubby, or perched on a branch half way up a tree (on those not so rainy days)… I suspect they actually did like listening to them, though (they were often about us on Famous Five or Swallows and Amazons type adventures, and, eventually, visiting our own version of Narnia).

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

Do you mean the (dreadful, dark and dingy) poem in the local paper when I was 13?  Or the short story in Stephen Matthew’s Danger anthology?  Magazines?  All were fabulous, validating, and exciting, but my two most epic moments were when I received a call from Transworld in UK, which wasn’t exactly an acceptance but was a defining moment (one of my stories was shortlisted in a major competition – the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award, 2013), and when Omnibus rang to let me know they were going to publish Trouble.  Yay!

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I love the freedom that Fantasy affords to create a world and characters that step beyond the everyday.  Gosh, that sounds a bit dry, doesn’t it?  Actually, I love reading Fantasy, so writing it is natural.

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

I took up the pen again (or recommissioned my keyboard) seriously about 15 years ago when our third child was born… I took what was supposed to be a year off teaching (but turned into a few more) and spent some time honing the craft and entering competitions. This led to publication of a few short stories in anthologies, which gave me the confidence to start submitting to the lovely, but now gone, Pearson magazines, where I had a few stories and articles see the light of day with Challenge, Comet and Explore – and got paid!  And then, eventually, my first very own book, Trouble at Home, found its way out into the wide, wide world… soon to be followed by three more books in the series.

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

Whatever I’m working on at the time is my favourite!

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

Like most of family I grew up in, if there are written words in front of me, I will read them.  I like to read to escape, however, so I don’t like things to get too serious too often.  Thanks to reading CS Lewis’ Narnia books when I was about 8 or 9, however, I have been a confirmed Fantasy fan ever since.  I am still looking for the wardrobe.

I just like reading.

Do you have a favourite author?

I have lots of favourite authors… I can never decide!

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

I have to thank the lovely Aleesah Darlison for the encouragement she gave me as we walked back from lunch to the ACT Writers Centre, that cold and windy winter day, that led to Omnibus accepting the first four books of what has become the Trouble series.  And I have learned a lot from Kate Forsyth, too.

I don’t think they know they are my mentors, though…  I try not to stalk them.

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

I tentatively put my toe in the water and delivered a presentation at the Australian Writers Centre last year… does that count?

Do you write full time?

I wish!

What are your other jobs?

Teacher, Mum, Other Half, General Help and Bottle Wash…

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

I have a goodly list of competitions that I’ve either won or been placed in for writing short stories… Shadows of Annwn is my only full length novel to reach the heights, but, despite Sir Terry loving it, it still lies in wait for the right publisher (I’m actually rewriting it at the moment… tightening up the plot care of some great advice from Kate Forsyth, and renamed as Shades of Winter to avoid the difficult to pronounce Welsh word)!

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

I’m a member of the ACT Writers Centre, where I attend workshops and conferences to learn new skills and meet other writers, and I joined the ACT branch of SCWBI to be part of a group of like-minded people.   I’m also a member of the ASA, which keeps me up to date with the writing world in Australia, and I’m an author member of the ACT CBCA, which is a lot of fun, too!

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

Gosh, yes.  I always feel that there is a lot to learn.  Memorable?  So many to choose from.  I think my biggest ‘aha’ moment, recently, came from Kate Forsyth’s  Building Castles in the Air workshop… and now I desperately want to head over to the Cotswolds with her to keep on learning.  Not just because I love that part of the world.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include?

I’m still on my L plates, but last year I ran Characters that Count at the ACT Writers Centre.  It received some great feedback so I’ve also devised a number of other workshops, but they are still in development at the moment: one on descriptive writing, one on different styles of plotting and planning, and one on world building.  Other than that, I have done a couple of workshops over the years as part of Children’s Book Week, and last year I was part of a great panel with other CBCA author members… best fun!  Oh, and I ran a Creative Writing Club at my school which was amazing fun, too.

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

At the moment the best way to contact me is via email at cate@catewhittlewrites.com .

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

Just do it!  And, to quote the song from Bridge to Terabithia, keep your mind wide open.  Read Stephen King’s On Writing.  Find other like minded people: join writer’s groups, get a tribe, read PIO!

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

I’ve got two websites:

www.catewhittlewrites.com which is mostly for other writers and has my blog attached,

then there is Trouble is Coming at www.catewhittlewrites2.com which at the moment is just a launch page for Trouble at Home, but is more for my young readers and will grow as Trouble grows.

and I have both a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCateWhittle, and a twitter account (that I will learn to use one day!) at @CateWhittle

Writing

Meet the writer – Stephanie Campisi

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….

 

Stephanie Campisi

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 1st February 2016 – issue 571

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

When I was first able to write, I think. That sounds a bit facetious, but I was that kid writing illustrated tomes throughout primary school and handing in novella-length manuscripts as part of English class. A shameless knock-off of a Tin Tin story involving detective dolphins was probably the highlight of my primary school writing efforts. I should probably apologise to Ms Ferguson for that.

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

I actually sold the first short story I ever submitted, and I still have the (very small) uncashed cheque as a memento. I’ve since balanced out that initial success with hundreds of rejections, so that’s kept my ego in check.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

Everything. I have a bit of a Georges Perec bent in that I want to try my hand at every type of writing possible – I’ve written everything from picture books to novels to poetry to interactive fiction. Most things seem to come out with a bit of a fantastic twist and plenty of wordplay, so there’s that. Puns. Can puns be a genre?

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

On the strength of titles alone, Pebble Without a Cause is probably the winner. A pebble in a family of boulders feigns being a moon rock in order to stand out – with disastrous effects. I think you can do a lot working at the intersection of sad and silly, which is where my books tend to land.

Do you write full time?

In a sense. By day I’m a copywriter specialising in branding and identity projects, and with a particular interest in packaging copy. I’ve also worked on a lot of media tie-ins for big Hollywood properties that I’m not allowed to name, which has been a daunting but exciting experience. (If only the stuff with my name on it could sell so well!) It’s forced me to err on the side of brevity and to consider words as part of a larger whole – and of course to write with a particular impact or outcome in mind.

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

Early on in my writing career I was focusing mostly on short fiction for adults, and was shortlisted for a couple of awards – Aurealis and Ditmar best short story short-listings, and a Best New Talent shortlisting. I’ve also judged a couple of awards, including the John Marsden Short Story Award, the My Brother Jack Award and the Small Press Most Underrated Novel Award. A challenging but rewarding experience involving huge stacks of paper and marking rubrics!

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

I’m a member of my local chapter of the SCBWI, and I’ve found it invaluable in keeping on top of industry news and in meeting like-minded authors. It can get lonely being hidden behind a screen all day!

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

I’ve recently moved from my native Melbourne to Portland, Oregon (which is basically Melbourne but half the size and on the other side of the world), so any Aussie visits or workshops are most likely to be conducted via Skype. Getting in touch with Sammy Bosch (Sammy@mightymedia.com) is probably the best way to arrange an in-person visit.

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

Just to be true to yourself as a writer. I think my agent probably cries a little each time I submit a manuscript – each is less marketable than the previous one and unashamedly falls between genres – but a book takes so much time and energy that it doesn’t make sense to work on something that you’re not truly passionate about.

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

Feel free to stop by my website at www.stephaniecampisi.com; if you like photos of coffee and tweets about etymology and Old English, you can follow me on Twitter at @stephcampisi.

Picturebooks · Publishing · Writing

Meet the writer – Spider Lee

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….

 

Spider Lee

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 25th January 2016 – issue 570

When did you know that you were a writer?

Most creative people have been creative their whole lives, it’s something that grows inside you so it is hard to define a starting point. I did not come from a bookish environment and really only opened my eyes to reading when I became a parent myself. When I decided to become a writer, I googled myself and found that I already was a successful writer, or at least someone with the same name as me was. So my first task was deciding on a new name. Spider has been my nick name from a very young age, it’s easy to remember and works well with the primary age readers.

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?

Putting yourself ‘out there’ for others to judge & actively calling yourself ‘a writer’ takes a great deal of courage. I have learned that adults will be polite and encouraging regardless of what they really think but children are gut wrenchingly honest, both with their body language and their comments. When I first read Wobbly Boots to a classroom of children, I learned more in 10 minutes than a week of writing workshops … brutal and inspiring all at once!

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

In retrospect, the publication of my first two picture books, Wobbly Boots and The Hair Ball were bitter sweet. The years of rejection letters and the resulting self-doubt most emerging authors experience can make you vulnerable when it comes to signing your first contract. It’s not always easy to judge the integrity of others in the publishing industry or understand the dynamics of the whole process but I guess like most experiences in life, once bitten twice shy … it’s part of the journey.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I absolutely love writing middle grade fiction, particularly contemporary humour which will engage primary aged boys in the delights of getting lost in the adventure of a book. As a teacher I see so many boys disengaged from reading, you know the ones who just think that if they are holding a book you will be fooled into thinking they are reading! There is nothing more rewarding as a teacher than guiding those children to find books and authors that they grow to love.

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

I have been writing for about 8 years and have published poetry and two picture books so far, Wobbly Boots & The Hair Ball, but I am finding an easy connection to middle grade fiction, possibly because I am one of 12 children and as a teacher I am surrounded by this age group every day.

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

Wobbly Boots is dear to me because it deals with a young child’s emotional journey when the adults they love make poor choices. The concept was born out of witnessing the pain young children find themselves in and if this publication helps even one child make sense of their world and come to a place of healing and forgiveness then it was all worth it.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I would choose a middle grade novel over adult fiction any day. I enjoy the odd well written autobiography but when it comes to fiction, the mindset of a child is so much more fertile and receptive to unpredictable or unconventional plot lines. Maybe I’m just immature!

Do you have a favourite author?

Authors – Tim Winton for his beautifully complex characters, Shaun Tan for his ability to present such a fresh perspective, Julia Donaldson for her delightful rhyme and metre and Andy Griffiths for his wicked humour.

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

There are few ‘real’ modern day heroes these days but Andy Griffiths is definitely one. He is humble in his success and generous with his advice for fellow writers. An inspiration to so many children, Andy is living proof that a super-man needs neither height, muscles, fake tan or perfect hair to succeed in life and make the world a better place.

How do they encourage you?

By being willing to be accessible to fans and writers regardless of age or where you are on your writing journey.

Do you write full time?

I wish! I don’t believe the industry as a whole supports the concept of a full time writer, it’s just a romantic notion … a myth. Most writers have an alternate paid job, be it inside or outside the industry, for financial support or at the very least, a wage earning spouse.

What are your other jobs?

I teach primary aged children which enables me to be immersed on a daily basis in the language, emotions and interactions of children who are the same age as my characters. It provides me with a rich pool of ideas, a sounding board for plot lines and gives me instant feedback chapter by chapter.

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

The Hair Ball was shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards in 2014 and I have several manuscripts which placed very well in the CYA Conference Competition in the last couple of years.

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

The ASA & SCBWI provide me with what I see as a safety net of professional advice and a broad range of opportunities to develop my craft.

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

Workshops run by Sally Rippin, Karen Tayleur and Alison Lester were all memorable for the honest way they shared their writing journey as all of them have worked hard for the success they have achieved.

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

contactspiderlee@gmail.com

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

I keep a reading journal and write down all my thoughts about a book as soon as I finish reading it. Publishing details, what worked and what didn’t, if I related to the characters and felt emotionally invested in the storyline. I reflected back though this when I am editing manuscripts to help me compare the calibre of my work to texts which publishers obviously felt were marketable.

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

www.spiderlee.net.au
www.facebook.com.artbyspiderlee
https://www.facebook.com/kelly.hunter.1253
http://spiderlee.net.au/blog/

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

Publishing

Australian Children’s Book Publishers Currently Accepting Unsolicited Mss @ Feb 2015

Aust Publishers Accepting Unsolicited Mss @ Feb 2015

So you’ve written your children’s story. You’ve polished it until it shines and now comes the daunting task of looking for a publisher.

I’ve tried to take the sting out of this step by scouring the internet to find a list of Australian Children’s Book Publishers currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Now what do I mean by unsolicited manuscripts (or mss for short)? If a publisher solicits a manuscript what that means is that they approach you and ask you to send it to them. An unsolicited manuscript is one that they haven’t specifically asked for.

There are lots of websites out there with lists and lists of publishers however when you sit down and start clicking through you find that links are broken or wrong, that trade publishers are mixed up with vanity publishers or that they only accept manuscripts from agents. It’s a time consuming job and we all know that time is money.

Inside this PDF is a list, in alphabetical order of 18 Australian Publishers of Children’s Books who are actively looking for your mss. The list comes complete with a short summary of what is being sought and a direct (non-broken) link to their guidelines page. For the small price of $5.00 this compilation will save you much frustration and more importantly, time. Time much better spent writing a new story.

So if you wish to purchase this little gem – look to your right, scroll down a bit and find the PayPal button link in the margin. If you’d prefer not to pay with PayPal you can email me – jackiehosking@bigpond.com for my bank details.

Best of luck and happy hunting 🙂

meter · Poetry · rhyme

And the winners are…

Writing

.

So the entries are read, the coffee is drunk and the judging is done but before I announce the winners I would like to say – firstly, huge  congratulations to all entrants, sending your work out into the world is an incredibly brave thing to do and I appreciate you selecting me to be one of your readers.

And secondly I’d like to encourage all non-winners to keep going, never, never, never give up!

Drum roll please – the winners are…

In the Rhyming Poem Category

1st Place – Cocoon by Jenny Erlanger

2nd Place – A Kite’s Tale by Tricia Simmons

3rd Place – My Dad’s Home! by Rae Barclay

 

In the Rhyming Stories in Verse Category

1st Place – Black Dog, Brown Dog by Spider Lee

2nd Place – Red Riding Hood by Meryl Harris

3rd Place – Goodnight Gorgeousaurus by Ramona Davey

 

Winners I will be in touch soon.

 

Once again I’d like to mention that I am unable to give feedback on your poems and stories however if you would like a manuscript edit I would again  like to offer non-winning entrants a discounted rate.

Please contact me if you would like to take advantage of this offer.

Thanks everyone – it was a real pleasure 🙂