Back in the Writing Seat

Logo_no_lamp_text_sampleThis blog has been sadly neglected In the last few months, but being involved in the organising of the KidLitVic2016 Meet The Publishers conference has taken up a huge slice of my time.

It was an inspiring event at which I got to connect with so many wonderful writers and illustrators and publishing professionals.

So here’s what happened. Alison Reynolds, Nicky Johnston, Jacquelyn Muller and I organised an event at the State Library of Victoria that was attended by 11 amazing publishers and one fabulous literary agent, and 160 wonderful authors and illustrators. Michael Wagner was our warm, funny and thoughtful panel moderator, Ian Robinson kept us entertained and informed as MC, and Coral Vass was a dynamic, very competent and welcome addition to our team on the day.

Thanks to our amazing faculty including:

Elise Jones Allen & Unwin
Maryann Ballantyne Black Dog Books/Walker
Suzanne O’Sullivan Hachette
Lisa Berryman HarperCollins
Marisa Pintado Hardie Grant Egmont
Jacinta di Mase Literary Agent
Michelle Madden Penguin
Kimberley Bennett Random House
Clare Hallifax Scholastic
Miriam Rosenbloom Scribble/Scribe
Jane Pearson Text Publishing
Melissa Keil The Five Mile Press

With writerly friends, Christina Booth and Sheryl Gwyther

To be honest the whole day was a whirl. There were four panels at which publishing professionals discussed picture books, illustrations, chapter and middle grade books and YA.

A highlight for me was meeting Clare Halifax, the wonderful publisher of my new book for kids aged 9+ due out next year.

I also loved hearing about what publishers were looking for and what authors and illustrators need to do in order to get noticed/published.

Thanks to my writerly friends, Bren MacDibble, Candice Lemon-Scott, Sheryl Gwyther and Kelly McDonald who took notes for me. So here are some tips from the conference:

Wonderful to finally meet Kelly McDonald.

Wonderful to finally meet Kelly McDonald.


  1. Humour, weird off-centre.
  2. Picture books with girl characters.
  3. Stories that tell a child something about themselves.
  4. Authors should find out what publishers are publishing and target those who best suit your work. This information can be found by looking at the books on a publisher’s website, in libraries and bookstores.
  5. 5-7 year old characters need to simply overcome an obstacle, but they must get more complex as character and readership get older.
  6. Be specific about the role of each character and what they are trying to achieve.
  7. Books where the author is in touch with their inner child.
  8. Always room for a good book, no matter what the trends.
  9. Voice is what hooks publishers and readers in.
  10. The story that you had to write … that comes from the heart. Not written to meet a ‘trend’.

Now that the conference is over, I’m right back into writing, and I’ll be posting regularly again.

If you were at the KidLitVIc2016 conference, feel free to share your tips and experiences in the comments section of this blog.

See you back here soon.

Happy writing 🙂






This is Captain Cook

I’m fascinated by the past so when I see a picture book like This is Captain Cook that encourages a love of history in the very young, I can’t help but be excited about it.

Cover Capt Cook FINALThis is Captain Cook is the creation of the very talented Tania McCartney (author) and amazing illustrator, Christina Booth. It’s not just a recount of history, it takes us into the world of Captain Cook and brings him alive to the reader as a person we might be interested to know.

This is Captain Cook tells about the life and times of Captain James Cook through a school play performed by Miss Batt’s Class.

This is such a unique and innovative idea that ensures this book works on a number of different levels. It can be read, or even acted out.

imagesThe text is full of facts, but it’s lively and fun. James loved running amok on the family farm with his brothers and sisters and goats and chickens.

images-1The illustrations are beautiful, full of little gems to enthral young book enthusiasts, and make adult readers smile.

The text and illustrations are rich with threads that weave throughout the book making it something that kids can pore over for hours. It’s also a book that’s great in the classroom to appeal to different learning styles.

images-2I have never seen history presented for young children in such an entertaining and appealing way.

The is Captain Cook is published by the National Library of Australia for readers aged 3+


Sea-themed chocolates

Last week I talked about one of the downsides of being an author, the waiting. But today I wanted to talk about the up side, celebrating the successes.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s your success or not. It can be just as much fun being at a book launch for a writer or illustrator friend. Publishing successes are meant to be shared.

Last weekend, I launched Claire Saxby and Christina Booth’s new picture book, The Carrum Sailing Club.

Author, Claire Saxby and me

It was so exciting for me to launch this wonderful book into the world of children’s literature. But it also had personal significance. By coincidence, I spent my early childhood in Carrum, and walked across the ‘troll bridge’, played in the sand and watched the boats, just like Claire and Christina depicted in their book.

It was also great to be at a launch where both author and illustrator were present. It’s not often that you get both sides of the story, particularly when the creators come from different states and there’s an ocean between them.

There really is nothing quite like a book launch to remind you why you love books and being involved in their creation.

When I looked at the evocative, playful language Claire had used and Christina’s beach scenes I was transported back to that wonderful time when I was a carefree kid at the beach again – before I grew up and started worrying about things like world peace, the environment…and whether my manuscript would land on the right editor or agent’s desk.

That’s what a good book does, it draws you into its world and reminds you that anything can happen in your imagination.

The Carrum Sailing Club

If you’re feeling a bit despondent about your own work, why not go to someone else’s launch and help them celebrate their success…enjoy the fact that great books are being published, and remind yourself that publishing success is possible with a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.

And no matter how large or small your success, celebrate what you’ve achieved. You’ve worked hard. You’ve earned it.

Illustrator, Christina Booth

Stay focussed and positive. You never know, the next book launch (or even the one after) could be yours.

Good luck:)