It is about time I wrote a blog post in honor of my local writer's group, Write Links.
The group started a little more than a year ago as a collaboration between Book Links and our local SCBWI after they identified a need for a writing group specifically for emerging children's writers. I was there from the start and haven't missed a meeting since.
Our group has grown considerably since that first meeting, our Facebook group has 88 members, and we have around 25 members show up for our meetings each month. I get requests from new members on a weekly basis.
Our members are emerging or established writers, as-of-yet unpublished, traditionally published and self-published.
In addition to the networking and professional development, there are three motivated critique groups; Picture Books, Junior Novels and Young Adult.
Over the last year, the formidable and knowledgeable Sam Sochacka, has educated us, overwhelmed us, or introduced us to all things Social Media for writers. Jenny Stubs from Book Links is our fairy godmother, coaxing us on, and sharing the latest and hottest news and opportunities. Jenny is also a walking encyclopedia on anything related to children's books. Mia Macrossan, CBCA (Qld) Book of the Year Judge is a strong supporter, so is Sheryl Gwyther from our local SCBWI, Peter Taylor, Pamela Rushby and many others. I have slowly grown into the role of coordinator, which I share with Sam Sochacka and it has been a rewarding experience.
The most rewarding aspect of Write Links is the friendships and supportive network this group has created. I now have superhero writing and illustrating friends for life! Why are they superheros? Trying to fit in writing with or without having to look after families, working full-time or part-time in another profession or trying to make a living out of writing or illustrating, is REALLY is not easy to achieve. This group of superheros keeps me focused, inspired and encouraged.
Oh, and I love that my social calendar has filled up with book launches and writing events.
Keep an eye out for our own Write Links logo in the next couple of months, designed by our own members, and check out some of our favourite Write Links blog posts:
Pamela Rushby on writing and her latest novel: The Ratcatcher's Daughter
Getting the most out of a writers' and illustrators' conference
April Write Links Meeting with Stephanie Hogan at Black Cat Books
Write Links meets on a monthly basis as the State Library Qld from 1 to 5pm, for more information please have a look at our website:
And on the topic of interesting blog posts ... Here is the link to a guest post I did for Alayne Kay Christian:
ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS GUEST BLOGGER YVONNE MES: HOW TO SUBMIT WITHOUT FEELING LIKE THROWING UP
And to round it all off, here are some pictures of last Saturday, the 3rd of May, dedicated to children's writing in the company of my Superhero Write Links friends:
11am - 1pm -Book Launch
Kaz Delaney launched her new book 'Almost Dead' at Black Cat Books hosted by the wonderful Angel Sunde.
There was a Q & A session between Angela and Kaz which included the telling of some spine tingling spooky stories.
Kaz is absolutely amazing and will be looking forward to more of her books.
1pm - 5pm - Write Links meeting
Sam's social media presentation at the State Library Qld, followed by our networking and critique sessions.
5.30 pm - till late -Book Celebration
Caylie Jefferey had a book celebration for 'Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers' at the Lethbridge Gallery in Paddington, gearing up for her book launch next Saturday.
As we arrived a little late, the place was so packed, we couldn't even get a glimpse of Caylie until the crowd had thinned out a little!
For more information about 'Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers' read my review here.
Today I have the pleasure of reviewing Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers and interviewing the author, Caylie Jeffery.
I identify more than a little with ‘being one of those mothers, the harassed looking ones that never carry enough band-aids, as Caylie describes herself in the introduction and it can be quite cathartic recognising yourself in someone else life; realizing you are not the only mother that loves her children enormously but worries about not living up to being the perfect mother, struggling with guilt and trying to find a balance between parenting and being a person in your own right.
Caylie urges us ‘to take some time each night to rest, reflect and regroup’ by reading her stories. As an emerging children’s writer and illustrator and a busy mum, I only have so much time to read stories that are not for children, so this book with its short stories for adults was perfect! The stories were just the right length and packed full of goodness. Like taking a multivitamin for busy mums.
This book does not describe the agonies of middle class motherly woe. These are stories that inspire, stories that overwhelm with emotion, stories that frighten and stories that make you laugh.
Caylie and her husband made some life changing decisions after close encounters with tragedy and Caylie chooses to live her life consciously, reflecting on anything from the extraordinaire to the mundane.
My favourites are too many to list, but the opening story particularly has stayed with me (you really need to read it and experience the goosebumps and snotty tissues for yourself). Topics range from puppies to politics, from following your dreams and relationships to ... warts. Midwives, teachers, The Baby Artist, being an imperfect parent, libraries and writing and many more. But what all these stories have in common are heart, soul, humanity, frailty, courage, passion and love, and they made me giggle.
The book left me wanting more; more stories and more insights from a fascinating lady whose words flows on the page like a salve for the weary busy motherly soul.
Caylie’s book is being launched at Black Cat Books on Saturday the 10th of May at 10am.
And if you can't make it to the launch, you can get your copy here.
Interview with Caylie Jeffery author of Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers
Please tell me you have more books like this planned?!
Yes, at the end of each year, I'll publish another Bedtime Story book for grownups, using the best stories I've published from the year before, possibly in e-book format to start with, and maybe one for Dads!
What was your road to getting this book published?
I have always loved to write, and used letters, journals and diaries to debrief about my life experiences. Blogging became another outlet after a Picture Book author suggested I get an audience and a platform before I started to submit stories to publishers. So just over a year ago, I started Distractions of a Busy Mother and realised that debriefing about imperfect parenting and describing positive experiences and inspirational events connected with a lot of people (mainly women between 30 and 60). My stories were read out on the radio and picked up by a few online magazines, and hey presto, I had a platform, an audience and a reason for writing. Now I can't stop.
I see wonder, beauty, pain and choices everywhere I look, and can't wait to get my fingers typing about so many different topics that might resonate with my readers. Because I was frightened off traditional publishing by a publisher who said they received 1000 manuscripts a day, I decided that life is too short to wait for someone to 'discover' me. So, I took the initiative, started my own publishing house (Mindful Matter Publications), found a great editor, printer and started learning everything I could about marketing. And here I am!
Can you share some tips for busy mothers?
Ha! I can offer some but I'd love to receive some in return!
I'm always looking for smarter ways to live and parent! But for what it's worth:
1. Be your true, authentic self. Your kids will know if you're trying to practice a new technique on them that you've read about in a book. If it doesn't come naturally, ask yourself why and then perhaps change the technique to suit your own style and voice
2. Those books next to your bed that tell you how to be a better parent can also sap your self-esteem. Perhaps get a blank journal and keep a record of all the things you do well as a mother, rather than beating yourself up about not being perfect. Just being aware of your developmental areas is a good start, and if you make a mistake, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and do it better next time.
3. Follow all the same advice you give your children!
4. Have your own hobbies that don't involve the kids or your partner and make time for them
5. Don't stop reading for pleasure... even if it's only 15 minutes a day... sit up in bed, don't lie down to read! Else, you're a goner!
6. Allow yourself down-time. Watch a DVD with the kids, or watch one of your own when they're watching theirs! No guilt!
7. My biggest tip: ask for help when you are snowed under. Start with your kids, then your partner, then your extended family, then your friends. They don't know what to do to help you. Be specific, give a time frame and then say thank you without the need to pay them back with gifts. Let them help you, as you will pay it forward when you can, I just know it.
What are you working on now?
Apart from the marketing and promotion planning for this book, I'm continuing to write weekly essays for various online publications. I am also doing the QWC's Year of the Edit to finish off my YA Manuscript, Salt.
This story is based on our real-life experiences in London during the 2005 terrorist attacks and the ensuing sailing adventure. The heroine is a 16 year old Australian teenager called Rosie who finds power at sea after the traumatic past she's had.
Thank you, Caylie. I am looking forward to more stories and hope to one day hold one of your picture books in my hands!
Caylie and I are both members of Write Links, the Brisbane children's writers group. For more information check out the website.
Children's Writer and Illustrator