PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month
I was pretty new to everything to do with writing for children this time last year.
One of the first things I came across was Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo and I joined straight away. It was free, easy to use, inspiring and you could even win prizes just by commenting!
Joining PiBoIdMo was the inksplot that spread and filled my empty notebook.
I read all the posts, I noted down my ideas AND I met some awesome kidlit people and became part of an amazing online kidlit community. I read and absorbed and wrote down over 50 ideas! I created my own 'Ideas spreadsheet' and now whenever I am stuck for an idea I have my own growing database of inspiration.
About the blog hop.
Each children's writer who is tagged (and wants to participate) answers four questions about writing, spreads the word about the PiBoIdMo challenge and tags three other children's writers.
I was tagged by Teresa Robeson, who is one of the most versatile children's writers I know and I am honored to share a critique group with her. She writes for children as well as writing Science Fiction, she is an awesome science nerd, she home schools her children and tries to live of the land, if you want to find out more about this inspiring superwoman check out this blog.
1. What am I currently working on?
I work on several manuscripts at a time though they are all for children. Several PB (fiction and biography), 1 MG, PB dummy, short story – I swap and change as I am inspired or need a break from one or the other, and I power through on the one project when I have a (usually self imposed) deadline.
2. How does it differ from other works in the genre?
Some of my stories for children are a bit darker. Most stories differ from each other. I really enjoy writing, I have an idea and follow it, see where it takes me. I like writing for a variety of ages and forms, short story, PB, junior novel. They all have their own challenges. I am totally intimidated by writing poetry for children but would love to learn more about that down the track.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I can’t help it! Maybe to stay in touch with the child inside of me.
I used to love being read to as a child and then reading as I got older. Then later when I worked with children and had my own, reading stories to children was and is my favourite part of the day. To one day have children read or hear my stories, would complete a perfect circle for me.
4. What is the hardest part about writing?
Finding the time to sit down and write uninterrupted. Waking up really early before the kids get up. Typing with a toddler on my lap (or two). Second guessing every story. Playing by the rules. Understanding the industry. Getting a good handle on English grammar (English is not my first language). Striking a balance between writing and social media. Yep, that will do. I could add more ... but, I really love being a writer and illustrator and no matter how hard it feels at times, I will keep on going.
I tagged 4 people (told you I find it hard to play by the rules). Remember these names, they are going to be part of a new wave of children’s writers. I feel privileged to have met (online or in person) each of these inspiring women.
I met Caylie Jeffery during a Brisbane Write Link meeting. I look forward to one day swapping YA stories in one of our critique groups and I have fallen in love with her blog, (including the title) Distractions of a Busy Mother
Caylie started out life as a Nurse and Counsellor, but after a close call with London terrorists, she took a fresh view of the world and sailed around it for two years with her husband. She now lives in Brisbane with her family who keep her on her toes but give her lots to write about! Caylie's many adventures and experiences have made her into a strong, observant and interested woman and she uses Familial Essays on her Blog, Distractions of a Busy Mother, to connect with the greater community. Caylie also works as a freelance writer for a number of publications, and is an emerging author of YA literary fiction. When she's not writing, Caylie can be found in renovating clothes, painting pictures and caring for her family. She has a wonderful circle of extraordinary friends who encourage and support her relentlessly and a growing number of followers to whom she is eternally grateful to for their readership and insight.
I met Sam Sochacka at the Brisbane Write Links group as well. She wowed me with her knowledge when presenting several sessions on social media for authors. She also covered the StoryArt Festival Ipswich AND she writes picture books, what’s not to like!
Sam Sochacka grew up in a world full of adventure - from the books she read, to the farms she lived on, and the beaches where she spent countless days riding the waves and clambering over rocks and sand dunes. She loves cooking, photography and still plays 'I spy with my little eye' when she travels. Sam began working in the world of children's literature in 2011. She loves all that it entails including imaginary worlds, quirky characters, great books, promoting children's literature and reading, amazing people and working with/for children. Sam admits that she is to illustrating as a BBQ skewer is to a blow up castle at a school fete, so she is very much looking forward to collaborating with illustrators who are far more capable than she is.
I met Dani Duck at the 12x12 online community, and we are part of several online illustration groups, it is easy to fall in love with Dani's illustrations.
Dani is a writer/illustrator. She lives with her husband Peter and son David in the outer, outer reaches of the greater Vancouver area. She loves painting in watercolor with ink outlines. Most of her paintings are of anthropomorphic animals. She also loves painting whimsical and fantasy paintings. She recently started selling her artwork on Etsy.
Katrina Stewart is another amazing Brisbane children’s writer and busy mother, we also met up at a Write Links meeting and at the Story Arts Festival Ipswich.
Katrina Stewart is an aspiring children’s author. A former Development Editor at Oxford University Press, Melbourne, she has recently completed Dr Virginia Lowe’s Create a Kids’ Book e-course, receiving a letter of recommendation for her work. Growing up in a small rural town, she has first hand experience of the challenges and joys rural living holds and seeks to share these through her stories, while exploring themes of community, belonging and social awareness.
In September I attended the StoryArts Festival Ipswich. It was amazing, inspiring, at times intimidating, exhilarating, informative, fun, overwhelming and exhausting. And I am rather sad I have to wait two years to experience it all again.
Many thanks to Jenny Stubs and her team from the the Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian Network for pulling it all together.
I almost filled an A5 notebook with notes on all the sessions, but I'll try to keep this post brief.
About the festival:
The festival began in 1995 as the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature and has been held every two years since then. The festival offers free sessions for children and low cost sessions for adults and young adults with an interest in children’s literature such as teachers, librarians, and emerging writers and illustrators. The festival aims to increase an awareness of the value of the arts in relation to writing and illustration and help build and maintain increased audiences for children’s literature. We plan to inspire young people to buy and read more books and gain an appreciation of the processes involved in writing and illustrating. We also aim to enthuse teachers and parents about the value of stories and encourage them to promote literature to young people. (from the website)
If you want to read more in depth coverage of the festival check out the excellent blog by roving reporter Sam Sochacka. I was honored to write the blog posts for the Sunday adult program, check them out here.
It wasn't easy picking my favorites but here they are:
My personal highlights
I met many inspiring writers, illustrators and editors and learned something from each; Margaret Hamilton,Leila Rudge, Briony Stewart, Mike Spoor, Leila Rudge, Alison Lloyd, Carole Wilkinson, Meg McKinlay and the awesome Meredith Costain.
One of my favorite moments on Friday was when I got to meet Alison Lester.
Alison gave a great presentation on her CBCA honour book 'Sophie Scott Goes South' and her several trips to Antarctica. During the panel session she shared some of the stories she worked on with Indigenous children in remote communities.
Read more about her presentation here.
Sarah Davis - Illustrator - Sounds Spooky Exhibition
I sat in on two sessions with Sarah Davis. She is a prolific illustrator with a huge range of styles and is amazing to listen to engaging, informative, supportive (though I admit to being a tiny bit intimidated by her intelligence and talent), and a whole lot of fun.
For more information on the Sunday session with Sarah Davis, read more on the StoryArts Festival blog here.
The Ipswich Central Library also had a 'Sounds Spooky' Exhibition showcasing the models of her characters and the models. Sounds Spooky was written by Christopher Cheng and illustrated by Sarah in 3 months!
More about that here.
Meeting Gus Gordon
As soon as I borrowed 'Herman and Rosie' (written and illustrated by Gus Gordon) from the Library, I wanted to get my own copy and I am glad I did.
Gus signed it when we sat at the same table for lunch!
During his session on 'Herman and Rosie', he talked about how he tries to capture the naivety of children's drawings and how people tend to lose touch with this naive story telling ability as they grow up. He discussed other illustrators who have kept in touch with this childlike way of storytelling and how they inspired him.
Read more here.
Gala Dinner at the Mangy Hound Jazz Club
inspired by “Herman & Rosie” by Gus Gordon
What was not to love!
Dinner with a bunch of writers, illustrators and editors in a setting inspired by the Mangy Hound Jazz Club from 'Herman and Rosie'.
Great conversation, crazy dancing, wine flowing, all accompanied by a lovely jazz band.
Read more about the night here.
Sue Whiting from Walker Books and Helen Chamberlan from Windy Hollow Books were on this panel chaired by Mia Macrossan
For a detailed account of this session and some inside information on pitching to editors read my guest blog on the StoryArts Festival blog.
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Children's Writer and Illustrator