What Publishers are Asking for

sacramentocapitol (1)

You may remember that I was going to KidLit2017 on the 20th of May. Among other things I got to hear some really interesting panel discussion with people in the publishing industry – specifically children and young adult publishing.

A recurring theme during these discussions was the idea of diverse voices. Unsurprisingly authors for children and young adults mostly come from white, middle-class, backgrounds. You only had to look around the auditorium to see that. Publishers were saying that they would like to see stories from other groups of writers.

If you are white and middle-class (that’s me) then your first reaction might be to get defensive. Let’s all take a breath. Of course you can write any story you want and from any perspective you want. That is part of the joy of writing. But you should ask yourself, is that story truly yours to tell? Is it best served by you telling it? Is that community best served by you telling their story? Are you appropriating someone else’s story and culture? This may be hard to hear but here’s the truth – it’s not about you.

Encouraging writers from different backgrounds to tell their own stories is a win for everyone. Those writer’s and their communities win because they’re represented in authentic ways. Readers win because they get great stories told from a real perspective. And writers who fall into the ‘white and middle-class’ category win because we get to support other writers and still tell our own stories. And that’s what we, and all writers, do best.

Why the World is a Dark and Dreary Place (Sometimes)

As a writer you have the opportunity to make the world, any world, and it can be as filled with rainbows or as dark and depressing as you want – so long as your characters see it that way. Scene setting is a big part of writing. Without it your readers can be lost as to where your story (or even just a scene) is taking place and without this context they may find your story difficult to follow. But setting isn’t just influenced by the time and place in which your story takes place but by the emotions of your POV character. Continue reading

KidLitVic1016

Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending the first KidLitVic writers’ conference. It was incredible! I have never been to a writers’ conference before and it exceeded all my expectations. For the first time I referred to myself as a ‘writer’ in public. The audacity of it! To actually say to someone that I am a writer!

It was wonderful to meet so many like minded people, all striving for the same thing, in such an encouraging atmosphere. I felt like I really belonged and that I was part of a ‘tribe’. I’m hoping to keep in touch with some of these people and I’m so excited to see how their writing journeys continue.

I feel that my journey has taken a real step forward. I had a meeting with Marisa Pintado for Hardie Grant Egmont and she liked the initial pages of my book and asked to see more. To. See. More. Of my work! Can you believe that. I know it’s just a first step and that she might not be interested in the completed novel but…Oh my God! It really encourages me to keep on going. This isn’t the end of the journey, it’s not even the middle, but it’s a real step in the right direction.

If you’re a writer (confirmed or otherwise) and you have the opportunity to attend a writers conference then I highly recommend it. I had the most wonderful time and I’m sure you will too.

I Must Get Back to Work

Did you know it’s February? February! Already! And I must, must, must get back to work. I’ve got excuses. Of course I do. B1 has just started school, it’s summer and the weather is beautiful, my husband and I are thinking of buying a new house and the real estate sites keep distracting me.

But I MUST get back to work. Right now my main character is stuck in limbo, waiting for me to end is plight. His dad is dead, his little brother is in hospital, his older brother is lost and confused, his mum is heartbroken. He’s discovered that his dad had a secret family and his just discovered half-brother is missing.

And I’m enjoying the sunshine!

So I must get back to work!

Hunting for an Agent

I’m hunting for an agent –

I’ve looked once or twice before –

I’ve read all the guidelines,

I’m sure I know the score.

 

Sure, I’ve known rejection,

I’ve felt it’s acid sting,

But this time might be different.

Who knows what time will bring?

 

God knows that I am patient,

I’ve been tapping away for years.

I’m giving it my all,

And with hardly any tears.

 

So I’m looking for an agent,

I’m on this path again.

Because you can’t appreciate success

Unless you’ve known the pain.

 

What’s in a Name? – Picking Character Names

We have a furry addition to our family – a female black cat that we adopted yesterday from the local animal shelter. We’ve had a bad run with pets over the last few years but, ever hopeful, we’re giving cat ownership another go. Which leads us todays post, because of course our new furry friend needs a name.

In this case we decided on Blackie. I know it doesn’t win awards for originality. Thank goodness animals are the only ones to get names based on their appearance, other wise both my boys would be named Scrawny Pink Thing.

Names are a funny thing. When I was teaching I came to associate a certain type of kid with their name, thus I’ve never met a Lewis who wasn’t lovely while I have a weird aversion to boys with J names (thank you, all you Jakes, Jordans, Jacksons and Joshs). Of course some of the ‘J’ brigade were lovely, but it’s the little…well, you know, that stand out.

As far as characters go, I struggle to name them. My protagonist in Child of War is Jedda, a name that I hoped was strong and not too main stream – but not too out there. It’s a j-name obviously but he and I get along pretty well.

And while they may seem superficial, the names characters have help to form a picture in our mind, they both draw on and add to our previous experience to create meaning. After all, would we picture Shakespeare’s Juliet the same if she were called Ursula? Romeo and Ursula? Or would we now imagine all girls called Ursula differently? I knew a couple who named their new baby daughter Ursula – my immediate mental image was not flattering.

If you were being set up on a blind date with a man called Homer, would you picture a distinguished Greek poet or a jaundiced over-weight family man?

Do you have any favourite character names? How important are names to you?