Nurture Your Creative Dreams

When I was seven years-old I decided to become a writer.

I had written a poem for arbor day (tree planting day) that I was asked to read at school assembly.

Little oak tree by the mill
standing there so quiet and still
stretch your branches up to the sky
up to the birds flying by.

And when the wind oh how it blows
It blows the leaves down to my toes
With little acorns yellow and brown
“Folks gather them all over town.

Oak tree I like you when you’re small
and I like you when you’re tall
But I like it best of all
When the coloured leaves fall from the trees
Look at the things that the butterfly sees.

Not a literary masterpiece and that last stanza is pretty random I know, but I was only seven 🙂

Reading my poem out at assembly and seeing how people reacted to it was amazing, I think it was the first time I realised the power of written words, that what we write can have an impact on people.

Of course I didn’t realise at that time what being a writer actually meant. All I knew was that I loved to write.

English and writing were the only subjects where I shone,  but there was nobody at high school to advise me  how you become a writer.

So I wrote. I thought that seemed the best way to follow my passion. Then I went to Vic Uni and did their Professional Writing and Editing Diploma, and I wrote some more. I wrote because it’s who I am … a writer.

I battled self doubt often … and the judgements of friends and family who didn’t think that writing was a ‘proper job’.

And after a while I started to see things their way. What other profession would you face constant rejection … constant letters/emails from people saying that your work was not what they wanted? What other profession would you devote hundreds of hours to a project with no guarantee of any financial reward?

I took a job in insurance because it enabled me to eat, but still I wrote. It was a compulsion with me. It was who I was … a writer.

Eventually I went from insurance to marketing to advertising to copywriting … and finally I was a writer.

From there, it was a short step to being an author … or so I thought.

But getting a novel published isn’t easy. You have to find someone that loves your book, loves the story idea and the writing so much that they are willing to publish it.

So began the long road of rejections.

As the years went by, the rejection letters got better … if you can use such a word for rejection. I started receiving letters that weren’t the standard rejection. Editors and agents began to offer feedback on my work … offered suggestions on how to make it more ‘publication ready’, and I embraced all their suggestions.

But still I wasn’t published. And I have to say I became more desperate. I submitted to publishers I might not normally have sent work to. If I’d had the money I think I would have been open to all kinds of publishers offering to publish my work for a ‘not so small’ fee.

The reason I’m sharing this is because writing is hard. No matter how patient we are, how hard we work, sometimes it feels like it’s never going to happen.

My new book out this year with Scholastic Australia

But if you have talent and dedication and lots of ideas i firmly believe that you will find someone who will love and believe in your work as much as you do.

So take heart, don’t give up, but don’t sell yourself short either. Don’t fall victim to scammers and companies seeking to make a lot of money from your desire to be published.

Have faith in yourself and wait for the right opportunity, wait for the publisher who wants to pay to publish your work rather than the company who wants you to pay hundreds or thousands to see your work in print,

Out 1st September with EK books. Loved working with illustrator Tracie Grimwood on this one 🙂

Be patient (although I know how hard that can be). Keep writing, take courses and get better at your craft.

Anyone who values your writing as much as you do will be prepared to pay for it.

Feed and nurture your creative dreams until they bear fruit.

Good luck, keep going and happy writing 🙂

Dee

Here’s a link to a page I’ve set up about some of the traps you can face as an author: https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/authors-beware/

 

    

 

 

Advertisements

The Fix It Man – The Writer’s Journey

I’m so thrilled to welcome Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston, and their beautiful new book The Fix It Man to my blog today.

Nicky and Dimity are both dear friends and amazingly talented people, and I’ve been lucky enough to share the journey of their wonderful picture book from initial idea to publication.fullsizerender

First, congratulations Dimity and Nicky on such a beautiful book.

Now … About The Fix It Man.

ex_fixitman_cvr_300THE JOURNEY

Back in early 2013, Dimity sent me her draft manuscript, The Fix It Man, and asked if I would help her get it ready to submit for publication. It was already a truly beautiful manuscript. The moving storyline was there and the language was lyrical, but I did have a couple of suggestions.

The Beginning

This is how the story originally started:

My Dad can fix anything.
No job is too difficult. No repair is too big. Or too small. Sticky tape is his preferred tool of trade and Super Dooper Dad Glue.
When butterfly bead bracelets break, Dad’s there. When mermaid kite tails tear, Dad’s there. When skipping ropes unravel and rip, Dad’s there.

Burst bulbs, cracked cups, and fractured furniture. Dad never knocks back a challenge.
Because that’s what daddies do.

fixing-dog-house_nickyjohnstonMy suggestion

Dimity’s beginning was already beautifully evocative, but I suggested that the story problem … Mum’s illness … could be introduced into the story earlier and that way readers would connect with the character straight away. I said …

Bringing the story problem in earlier would allow you to take more time in the story with Mum’s illness and eventual passing – and show Dad’s increasingly desperate attempts to fix her. It would create more tension and allow the reader more of an emotional connection.

Language and Tense

Dimity’s language was already beautiful, but I felt it could be strengthened by using consistent forms of words for example, Dad and Mum, rather than switching to Daddy or Mummy and back again.

Sometimes when you get caught in the emotion of the story, it’s easy to slip in a different tense … and this was something else we worked on in The Fix It Man.

But overall, this was such a strong story, that there really wasn’t a whole lot of work to do … and Nicky Johnston’s gorgeous illustrations have strengthened and enhanced it even more.kitchen_nicky_johnston

The Story

In The Fix It Man a young girl believes her father is the king of fixing things, but following the death of her mother, she discovers that broken hearts are not as easy to repair as damaged toys and cracked teapots. Together, she and her father find a way to glue back the pieces of their lives.

The Fix It Man is a poignant picture book that explores how a child can cope with the loss of a parent (in this case, the young girl’s mother). Grief affects all members of a family, with each responding in their own way to the loss. By sticking with her father, the young girl is able to strengthen her resilience and ability to cope with one of life’s harshest experiences. The author was encouraged to seek publication for this story after receiving the endorsement of several grief counsellors who work with children and who recognised the need for a book such as this.

In The Fix It Man grief is handled in such a gentle sensitive way, and despite the subject matter, readers are left with feelings of hope.

There are not many characters in this story, but each one has been well crafted with an authenticity that makes them so relatable.

To hold The Fix It Man in my hand has filled me with so much happiness for these creators. There’s such symmetry between Dimity’s text and Nicky’s evocative illustrations which take the story to a whole new level.

They truly capture the emotion and poignancy of the subject matter and the beautiful relationship between father and daughter.

I can see The Fix It Man providing a wonderful conversation book in homes and schools, not just for gently introducing children to the concept of loss, but for building empathy for others.

MORE ABOUT THE FIX IT MAN …

To celebrate the launch of The Fix It Man, Dimity and Nicky’s blog burst is taking them to many other wonderful places in cyberspace.

You can check them out here:

blog-burst-poster

 

Smile Cry – A Beginner’s Book of Feelings

Smile Cry written by Tania McCartney and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft is a wonderful book to introduce  discussions about feelings.

smilecryfullcover-smallYoung children find that a cry can quickly turn into a smile and vice versa so it’s an ideal blend to have these two feelings showcased in the same book.

Our society often has a negative response to tears so it’s refreshing to see this emotion presented to children as a ‘normal and acceptable’ way to feel.

The way these emotions have been introduced allow the reader to empathise with others and learn that everyone has feelings.

Smile Cry presents the concept that we feel things for a reason.

The simple and powerful text and emotive illustrations make this book relatable and relevant for young children.

The gorgeous pictures represent feelings in a fun, non-threatening way – providing reassurance to young readers.

piglet bunny cat double picFeaturing a very cute pig, rabbit and cat, the emotions of the characters are simply yet strikingly depicted in the illustrations.

Smile Cry is a ‘flip about’ book, symbolic of how emotions and feelings can flip. ‘Smile’ starts from one end and ‘Cry’ from the other, and the feelings meet in the middle.

Smile Cry is an important book, introducing young readers to the complicated world of feelings in a compassionate and memorable way.

Published by EK Books, Smile Cry is currently available in Australia, the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada.

If you’re looking for the ideal Christmas present for the youngest readers in your life, this could be it.

Life in Other States – A Texas Year and A New York Year

It’s clear that meticulous research and care have gone into Tania McCartney‘s and Tina Snerling‘s colourful fun books, A Texas Year and A New York Year.

These well produced picture books cover a year in the life of kids living in Texas and New York.

One of the things I love most about them is their theme of diversity – the way they reflect the lives and cultures of the people living in these states.

A texas yearA Texas Year and A New York Year feature ethnically and culturally diverse characters and diverse experiences.

The lively text and illustrations make these books a fun read for anyone with an interest in finding out about Texas or New York.

A Texas Year and A New York Year are full of information about the lifestyles and aspirations of kids living in these locations.

Readers will enjoy poring over the text and illustrations, taking in the fascinating detail.

They will be taken through a month by month account of what it means to be a kid living in New York or Texas, learning about special occasions and customs.

There’s everything from food, sport and school, to dancing, language, holidays and special occasions.

A New York Year - Front coverA Texas Year and A New York Year present great opportunities for discussions in the classroom or home about cultural diversity.

Each book has a location map with information about the state including its nickname, state flower, song, animals, and popular foods found there.

The content in both books has been produced in consultation with native advisors from the state including teachers and children.

A Texas Year and A New York Year offer young readers a fun and entertaining way to explore their own environment and the world around them.