Write Links acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work and live, and recognise their continuous connection to land, water and community. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging leaders. We pay respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Authors and Illustrators.
As NAIDOC week draws to a conclusion, Write Links member, Barbara Sheehy, shares her Magabala Scholarship experience with us. The theme of NAIDOC week 2019 is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Barbara talks about Truth Telling and shares how important this is to first nations people.
Barbara Sheehy, a proud Burri Gubba woman, working on her Magabala Scholarship.
Since being awarded the Magabala Scholarship for Writing in 2018, it has been six months of learning, challenge and growth. My scholarship comprises of two elements, a 10 on-line Module ‘Create A Kids Book’ Workshop and Assessment program and 1:1 mentoring with Dr Virginia Lowe, Children’s Book Council Judge (Book and Illustrator), University Lecturer, Author and Advocate based in Melbourne. Barbara undertook the modules with her assigned mentor (June Colbert, published Australian author).This assessment will determine a DRAFT Letter of Recommendatory for publication or feedback to continue development of the manuscript.
My Scholarship Experience 2018
What I discovered during the ‘Create A Kids Book’ on-line module program is the ability to imagine and expand on the creative boundaries of writing for children. The technical and structural components of writing for children and picture books genre, grammar, syllables, syntax, rhyming to construct of submissions and publishing has strengthened a deeper appreciation to the mindfulness and importance each element brings within the process of writing.
In addition, the program enabled exposure to historical and relevant range of literacy and professional discussion papers, research, reviews and readings from Australian and International Children’s writers. These compliment the dynamics of the learning process throughout each module.
The encouragement to explore and absorb various Children’s books (award winners and other noted Australian and International authors) connected me to this genre. It confirmed, for me, the excitement to create for young audiences and tell stories that connect. Connection can be as simple as ‘Dog In – Cat Out by G.Rubenstein and A.James (1988) to complex stories of truth telling ‘The Rabbits’ by J.Marsden and S.Tan (2000) – my daughter Natashya still talks about this book having read it during my course. She found it confronting, sad and engaged conversations on how truth telling has impacted on our first nations people. We also spoke about how the story can help raise awareness in our communities on the sadness it still brings to memory for many people, including our own family.
Modules like Fantasy (4) and Characters (5) gave me opportunities to delve further into my craft and bring fresh approaches to my writing. It encouraged flexibility and openness to changes in my final manuscript submission. I was open minded to a process of change and adaption of ideas. I didn’t want to dilute the connection of my original plot and roller coaster of experiences developed through the support characters and the protagonist. These modules and feedback from June my mentor give me confidence to the evolution of the manuscript.
The types of protagonists and characters based on fantasy, imaginary or realism was a highlight for me in the program. The ability to take a simple thought, a past childhood memory and explore the concept of Anthropomorphism through storytelling was thoroughly exciting and allowed for growth in my craft.
What it taught me was the ability to think laterally around characterisation and enjoyment of connecting a young audience to a story using this style of protagonist. My exercise submission was titled ‘Robert The Undercover Ant ‘. Natashya my 9 year old daughter, (and writing soundboard/critic) connected with the story, got inspired and created illustrations. Anthropomorphism is not a method of character I was familiar with nor would have considered as a developing writer. However, the program has opened my knowledge and learnings to the possibilities of developing stories for young audiences this way.
Throughout the submission and assessment process, it has been a continued journey of application, evaluation, feedback and evolution. It allowed creative thinking and challenges – how great was it to submit a short paragraph piece that describes the beach, without using the letter ‘a’..here is an example of a submission and feedback received for this exercise:
Barbara working on Module One - Create A Children's Book
Looking down into the blue liquid reflecting my picture. Hypnotic pounding sounds fill my senses. It surprises me how remote I feel. Witnessing birdlife strolling on pebbles. They dip their feet in frothy shore lines, finding gems to fill their bellies. Dogs run smiling with owners in close pursuit. Fine bubbles unveil secret hideouts of ground dwellers. I could live here to explore this world it is so inviting.
Feedback from mentor
I look (you need a subject – I – and a complete verb – look- to make this a grammatically complete sentence) down into the blue liquid reflecting my picture. Hypnotic pounding sounds fill my senses. It surprises me how remote I feel. I’m witnessing birdlife strolling on pebbles great line!. They dip their feet in frothy shore lines gorgeous, finding gems to fill their bellies. Dogs run smiling with owners in close pursuit. Fine bubbles unveil secret hideouts of ground dwellers wonderful and intriguing. I could live here to explore this world; (semi-colon to join main clauses to avoid using and or because) it is so inviting.
This work commenced in June 2018 and my goal was to provide Dr Virignia Lowe with a final manuscript submission for DRAFT recommendatory letter or feedback by December 2018. I am pleased to share my goal was achieved and now it is an anxious wait on outcomes and getting on with my 1:1 mentoring with Dr Virginia Lowe.
I’m continuously grateful to Magabala Books for this opportunity and experience. It has been an incredible journey to further my love of writing, especially children’s books. I can’t wait to share the next phase of my scholarship and highlight the milestones that are shaping and evolving me towards my goal of being a published Birri Gubba author!
Burri Gubba (Giya/Juru)
Photo with Gregg Dreise
‘In Conversation With’ – Indigenous Author and Illustrator Gregg Dreise – StoryArts Festival Program – September 2017.
Barbara Sheehy, a proud Birri Gubba woman, is an aspiring children’s author based in Brisbane Queensland. She is inspired to teach children about connection to the environment, creative problem solving and diversity of positive friendships. As a child she was always fascinated by the elements of Wind, Earth, Fire and Water. Barbara is an active member of Book Links QLD (Inc), WriteLinks, SCBWI and Children’s Book Council of Australia. She has been a blog contributor for WriteLinks, creative contributor to ‘The Big Draw’ QLD in 2016 and presenter at StoryArts Ipswish Festival in 2017. In 2018 she was a recipient of Magabala Books Indigenous Creators Scholarships; mentoring with Dr Virginia Lowe. She has written blogs on the recruitment industry focusing on career advice and professional development. Her writing has featured on Origin Energy’s ‘Origin Foundation’ supporting Indigenous children and youth through corporate partnerships via their internal and external communication channels.
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
One stormy Sunday afternoon, eager writers trudged into the Queensland State Library to exercise their minds and be brightened up by the art of words.
On Sunday 16th June 2019, Kathryn Apel shared her insights into "Poetry Verses Prose: Learning how writing in verse develops writing muscle and sparks creativity." and her journey to becoming a published author.
Kathryn began writing verse novels when she found a gap in the market for engaging books for boys. They were enjoying the short sharp scripts of verse novels, yet the topics were more female oriented. So, Kathryn wrote books for boys in mind to reengage the reluctant readers.
Also, writing in verse allows words to be physically manipulated on the page as the location of the words add action to the poem and aids the flow of the narrative. Words can also be used to create a physical shape on the page to become artistic within themselves. Kathryn demonstrated how she used these within her own books "Bully on the Bus", "On Track" and "Too Many Friends".
"Words are powerful - but so is silence. White space gives your words strength." ~ Kathryn Apel.
The traditional poetic tools (e.g. onomatopoeia, rhyme, alliteration, etc.) can be incorporated into a verse novel and the author can have more flexibility in their writing, bending the traditional rules often found with poetry.
When shaping a poem, Kathryn described her process in three stages. First, she's a body builder: toning and tautening the words. Second, she's a gardener: pruning and shaping the words. Third, she's a clumsy clown: releasing the colourful balloons of relaxed fun and play throughout her work.
Then Kathryn put our writing muscles to the test! She demonstrated a range of different poetic styles, how she used them, how to write them, then gave us challenges for us to use our creativity and a lot of muscle power to write in each style. We explored Didactic Cinquians (only 11 words long!); Haikus (only 3 lines with less than 17 syllables); Solages (for a joke) and Zentangle Poems as a form of Erasure Poetry (using a pre-existing text, finding a free verse poem within, then creating zentangle designs to emphasize the poem by disguising the unused text).
The two hour workshop culminated with the exploration of how www.storybird.com can be used to inspire writing through artworks. This tool can be used by writers alike, not just the poets at heart, by utilizing the stored illustrations and writing prompts to create new inspirations.
Once the sun had set and apparel had dried, the eager writers departed smiling with sparked inspirations and more tools of the trade in their kit to exercise their ever developing writing muscles.
On behalf of all 21 poets-to-be in attendance, I would like to express appreciation to Kathryn Apel for sharing her time and knowledge with fellow authors and to BookLinks and The Queensland Writers Centre for coordinating and hosting a creative escape in which we got to further develop our professional writing skills.
For more information about Kathryn Apel and her collection of books, check out: https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/
For more information about BookLinks for future workshops and events, explore: https://booklinks.org.au/
For more information about The Queensland Writers Centre, see: https://qldwriters.org.au/
Photography by Maria Parenti-Baldey and KRC Photography.
Author Bio of KR Clarry:
KR Clarry is an OP1 graduate of Logan and a Teacher of 14 years’ experience with a strong passion for life long learning. She has taught in State, Catholic and Independent schools as well as having roles with a University and an International Education Company delivering ICT professional development to school administrators, staff and students.
KR loves to read, write and bring stories alive through modelled and shared reading and writing experiences. She is currently working on many exciting projects.
When she isn’t lost in a world of creative imagination, KR likes to do ballroom dancing, bush walking and photography, as well as volunteering for a range of different community charities.
KR’s ultimate goal is to make a positive difference in the world and works to inspire children to aim high to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.
Photograph by Special Memories Photography.
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
We had a fun session playing with Story Sparkers created by Yvonne Mes. Yvonne was inspired by Rory's Story Cubes and decided to make some especially designed for writing for children. You can read Yvonne's blog about her Story Sparkers here.
It was fascinating how, with the same Sparks eg bear, fish, island, challenge authority, within 10 minutes we had a room full of different stories, some of them finished and read to rapturous applause!
Here are some of the 10 minute stories written by our members that day.
East bank of the river:
Saturday morning, Bryon the bear woke with a dream. Winter was on its way and he needed the perfect hibernation hut. The island in the middle of the river was the perfect spot. He had logs, mud, and wifi all ready to go.
West bank of the river:
Saturday morning, Florence the fish woke with a daring idea. The island in the middle of the river was the perfect place for her 15 metre diving board. Florence could do a double half-pike backwards somersault and not even make a splash. She had logs, mud and sunscreen all ready to go.
To the island they went.
On the east side of the island, the bear started to build.
On the west side of the island the fish started to build.
‘This is going to be the most comfortable hibernation spot ever,’ said Byron while he worked.
‘This is going to be the tallest diving board in the country,’ said Florence while she worked.
They were both so buy building, hammering, drilling and designing, that they didn’t even notice one another.
They didn’t even notice Charles the cat from the City Council, standing right between them, holding a very legal looking piece of paper and shaking his head.
‘Do you have a permit?’ he asked the bear and the fish.
‘I don’t need a permit to hibernate,’ said Byron.
‘I don’t need a permit to dive,’ said Florence.
‘Unless you have a permit to build,’ said Charles, ‘I’m afraid you are going to have to tear all of this down.’
Florence looked at Byron.
Byron looked at Florence.
‘Did you know?’ said Byron… ‘That cats can’t swim?’ said Florence.
The island in the middle of the river, is now home to one Olympic quality diving board, a sleeping bear – and excellent wifi.
JM Wisbey writes funny things for children, and for her own amusement. She doesn’t want to die one day with all of these ideas still stuck in her head.
Bear was sick of living on the island.
"I am destined to be on Broadway," he declared, "not stuck here with only you for company. Fish: do something amazing."
Fish leapt out of the water—as high as Bear's knees.
"Meh," said Bear. "That wasn't very high. Nobody would want to see 'Bear and the not-very-high-jumping fish' on Broadway."
Fish leapt out of the water again—as high as Bear's chest.
"Better," said Bear, "but still not very impressive. Nobody would want to see 'Bear and the somewhat-high-jumping-fish' on Broadway."
Fish leapt out of the water again—as high as Bear's nose.
And before Fish could fall back into the water, Bear opened his mouth and swallowed Fish whole.
"It was a silly idea to take a fish on Broadway, anyway," he said.
Annaleise Byrd is an aspiring children's author who talks all things bookish at The Byrd and the Bookworms.
Science Report Following the Crash of Bear’s Boat on Fish’s Island
Prior Knowledge: Bear is an idiot. Who else would sail their boat directly into a storm?
Aim: Build an aeroplane to fly Bear off island.
Prediction: Bear will weigh us down unless we can create enough lift.
Observation: Searched the island and could not locate pieces to make an engine or wings. Bear laughed at me.
Result: Unsuccessful. Wrong pieces.
Aim: Build a raft using bamboo and parts from the wreckage from Bear’s boat.
Prediction: Bear will weigh us down and probably sink the raft.
Observation: Located bamboo and a sharp rock. Successfully cut down bamboo into raft size pieces. Used rope from the boat to tie the bamboo together. Raft looks good.
Result: Unsuccessful. Bear too heavy.
Prediction: I am a fish. I can swim. I will get off the island in no time.
Observation: Bear cried when I said my plan, but then he walked with me to the shore.
Result: Unsuccessful. Couldn’t leave Bear behind.
Sophia is a multi-tasking ninja by day and an author in the early hours of the morning. She has one published book (so far) with 3 more on the way in 2019.
Follow Sophia on Instagram @sophia_evans_author or Facebook @SophiaEvansAuthor for updates, written words and random thoughts.
Illustrations by Justine Lawson
Justine wrote and illustrated her first picture books for Children's Book Week when she was in primary school, and she's been writing and drawing ever since. Justine lives in Brisbane near a lovely creek where you will often find her communing with nature. Justine's picture books express her keen observation of life and her delight in understanding who and what and where and when and how and why! While her creative interests stretch far and wide, melding words and pictures into a story has Justine captivated.
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
Meet the Publishers at Book Links StoryArts Brisbane Festival 19-20 October 2019.
Join TOP publishers, authors and illustrators. Pitch to a publisher or a literary agent. Learn how to write and illustrate a children’s book. #BSAB19 festival presented by Book Links Brisbane.
As an excited committee member, I’m thrilled to announce a two-day festival for writers, illustrators, teachers and librarians that promotes excellence in children’s literature.
#BSAB19 offers quality, affordable workshops and master classes and the opportunity to obtain face-face feedback on pitches, manuscripts and portfolios. Learn from key panel sessions with editors, agents, authors and illustrators including focused sessions with book creators.
Book Links offers a Mentorship to Book Links members with the well-renowned Robyn Sheahan Bright… Applicants are invited to submit a synopsis and the first two chapters or first 6000 words. $10 Only
Pitch to a Publisher: Saturday 15 mins OR Sunday 20 mins
BOOK one-on-one feedback with publishers Clair Hume (Affirm Press), Susannah Chambers (Allen & Unwin), Rowena Beresford (Yellow Brick Books), Emily Lighezzolo (Wombat Books, Rhiza Edge), Sarah Davis (Walker Books) or literary agent, Justine Barker (Mayfair Literary Agency)
For feedback sessions, you MUST be booked into either Saturday OR Sunday program.
All pitch sessions are filling up fast! I’m already booked in! I can’t wait to pitch to my chosen publisher.
Go to the page … Scroll down to choose your publisher or agent …
Saturday 19 October Program
Come to Saturday’s program, consisting of panel sessions with creators, publishers and agents and choices of sessions with authors and illustrators.
Feedback sessions for writers and illustrators can be booked separately.
MEET publishers Allen & Unwin, Affirm Books, Wombat Books, Yellow Brick Books and MORE.
MEET authors: Lisa Shanahan, Frané Lessac, Mark Greenwood
MEET illustrators: Sarah Davis and Heath McKenzie
Check the FULL program here on the Book Links website. The registration desk opens at 8am outside Auditorium 2, Brisbane State Library. Tickets include morning tea and lunch on Saturday only.
$95 members (Book Links and CBCA Qld Branch members)
Sunday 20 October MASTER CLASSES
Sarah Davis – Masterclass – Sunday
StoryArts Brisbane presents Sarah Davis ‘Illustration Toolbox’: An intensive day designed to give you the essential tools for illustration; Beginning with a shared prompt, participants will work individually to create a finished illustration and in the process learn how to brainstorm and develop a concept, design a character, and explore basic principles of form, colour, line, composition and personal style. $60 – $90
Lisa Shanahan – Masterclass – Sunday SAB19 10:00 am
As part of StoryArts Brisbane we are offering this masterclass in the art and craft of writing chapter books and middle grade fiction with award winning author Lisa Shanahan.
Fierce, Funny, True: The Art of Writing for Children
Where do captivating ideas for children’s books really come from?
What does it take to write a novel that lingers and lasts?
Join award-winning writer Lisa Shanahan for an engaging and interactive writing workshop. Explore the essential narrative requirements for writing junior novels and middle grade fiction, including the key differences. Discover how to create convincing, believable characters and how to develop a strong, dynamic voice. Study the important fundamentals of structure, setting, plot, dialogue and emotional resonance.
Participant requirements: Bring your favourite children’s book
Limited spaces available. $60 – $90
Full day festival with panels and break-out sessions.
State Library of Queensland
South Brisbane, Qld 4101
Contact Details: Jenny Stubbs email@example.com MOB 0409 266 78
Karen Tyrrell Author
Karen Tyrrell author won 3 awards, 4 grants, 3 sponsorships and a mentorship from Society of Editors QLD.. Karen’s kids books, Bailey Beats the Blah and STOP the Bully, are endorsed by Kids Helpline. Harry Helps Grandpa Remember won a RADF grant and is endorsed by Alzheimer’s Australia.. Recently, Karen won an Arts Queensland grant for picture book, Ready Set Discover Logan.
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
I attended the 'Write a Picture Book for Charity' workshop with Library for All and Michelle Worthington in March 2019. Participants were given fantastic writing advice and prompts, and by the end of the day I had written a story I was happy to donate. It was an idea that had already been percolating, but I just hadn't taken the time to write it yet. I'm looking forward to seeing my words brought to life by an illustrator and seeing my name in print. Helping such a worthwhile cause is the cherry on top!
Annaleise Byrd is an aspiring children's author who talks all things bookish at The Byrd and the Bookworms.
Jocelyn Hawes - My recent writing Journey
This particular journey began with a visit to our WriteLinks group by Lara Cain Gray from Library for All as our guest speaker. She presented our group with a new challenge to write picture books for children living in Third World nations- in this case Papua New Guinea. This challenge sparked some historical memories for me. My father-in-law Pat Hawes was one of the pioneers of PNG aviation. I had also visited in Port Moresby in 1960s. So I remembered a country of sunshine, blue seas, tropical jungles and little children diving into fast flowing rivers.
My manuscript Kate’s Kite had been sitting in my computer for some time. I gave it a polishing edit and sent it off one Monday morning to Library for All. That afternoon it was accepted. An amazing boost to my ego after many rejections from other publishers.
Kate’s Kite has now been published and sent to PNG schools in printed and ebook form. Copies can be downloaded through their free digital library for Android devices from Google Play store.
My second picture book is Look! Can you see? It was created from my love of trees and birds. The illustrations by Romulo Reyes lll capture the colourful nature of the environment.
I would like to encourage other writers to support Library for All by donating the copyright of their story to this not for profit organization. Their web site libraryforall.org.au Lara’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org
My chapter book The Happy Letter has also been accepted and will be published soon. For me it’s been an exciting new journey and one I am pleased to contribute to.
Jocelyn Hawes lives near a forest where possums pound over her roof at night and kookaburras wake her with their laughter each day. She writes for children and for adults in varying genres. She is a member of Booklinks Qld, Australian Society of Authors and Queensland Writers Centre.
She is currently writing her life story. Looking back she wonders how she ever fitted it all in as well as mothering four daughters and a bevy of grandchildren while her husband worked 24/7.
Photograph by Special Memories Photography.
I was first introduced to Library For All when Lara came to present at a WriteLinks meeting in October 2018. She offered us the chance to donate stories to be published to help the Papua New Guinea teachers and students with learning reading skills.
I went home that night and wrote three stories especially for the charity, slept on them and then edited before sending them to Lara. With major excitement, I received notice in the week of my birthday that the three stories would be accepted!! From there the writing bug grew. I continue writing for Library For All with new ideas that just keep coming.
Lara and the team are very helpful and supportive. My writing addiction has increased with each new contract. I am excited to now be signed for 19 stories!! I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Library For All as I get to use my hobby of writing combined with my teaching background to produce quality materials to assist a charity deliver literacy resources to other countries in both printed and digital formats.
Since working with Library For All I have championed their cause wherever I go by spreading the word for the Library For All digital e-library app. As it is free for anyone in the world to download, I have let as many teachers and parents know; as who doesn't love free stuff especially when it's educational!? The app can be used for in class learning through guided and silent reading and it can be used at home for home learning, partner reading with siblings or simply on holidays when you can't carry library books with you, you'll have over 200 at your fingertips.
I am extremely excited and proud to be a published author, especially for a great cause. I have read my books to kids and have first hand feedback through their smiles and laughter that they really enjoy them. I can highly recommend for any authors or illustrators to get in contact with the Library For All team to donate their work, as you know it will make a positive difference in the lives of children around the world.
Books below by KR Clarry.
I’ve been writing for Library for All since October 2018, and love being one of their authors. Every time I see one of their posts on Instagram, showing the books they’re sending out to PNG, I get a happy little feeling - some of my books might be in there. I’m helping someone to read, be literate. And the more they expand, the happier I am to be part of something so big!
Plus, Greg and the Egg was my first children’s book, with many more on the way now, including my first board book and a pair of non-fiction pieces for a Disaster series focussing on education on fire, earthquakes, floods and volcanoes.
Seeing my words in print illustrated by a local artist from PNG gave me the confidence to launch into my writing.
You can read more about Jo Seysener at Four Quills
Read Maria Parenti-Baldey's post for hints on what Library For All are looking for
Mirror stories reflected, enabling children to see themselves in the story. And windows allowed kids to learn and see through to other parts of the world, both being relatable".
Big Sister Blog
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
Library For All is an Australian not for profit. We’ve developed and launched a globally available free digital library to provide books to communities where history, poverty or remoteness are everyday barriers to accessing knowledge. Our library serves a unique, curated collection of engaging content created by an international publishing team. We work tirelessly to publish children’s books that are high quality, age appropriate and culturally relevant for the communities that we serve.
The majority of the books in our library are written for communities, by communities. We source stories through writers’ workshops we run in countries like PNG and Laos, ensuring people get a chance to share the special stories from their own regions with kids who are learning to read. But to grow a large and varied library, we also thrive on donated stories from authors around the world. Many generous and talented Write Links members have supported our mission!
Authors tell us they enjoy being able to make a concrete contribution to a charity - as opposed to donating money with no guarantee of how it will be used, for example. They like the fact that the stories we publish are going straight into the hands of eager and grateful readers. Having recently visited schools in PNG myself, I can assure our authors that these kids are blown away by our books!
We are not driven by the ‘marketability’ of books, which means we can accept stories that might not make it out of the slush pile in a commercial publisher. But every story still undergoes structural editing and, importantly, ‘cultural editing’ to ensure it is suitable for our collection. Authors can be confident that publishing with LFA is a credible opportunity and a worthy addition to their writing portfolio.
When we’ve accepted and edited a manuscript, we match it with an illustrator and it progresses quite quickly to publication in our app; usually within 3 months. For the author, there won’t be a lot of collaboration with the illustrator, but we will share ‘sneak peeks’ of draft illustrations. Every author receives a complimentary hard copy of their book.
Right now, we’ve reached our limit for new manuscripts for this financial year, but there will be more publishing opportunities in future. As a general rule, we look for fiction and factual books, picture book manuscripts and early reader chapter books for children 4-10 years old. All our stories must be culturally acceptable to our predominantly Asia-Pacific reader base, but editors can help with this.
Authors and illustrators who might be interested can subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on social media or join our new Library For All Bookclub closed Facebook group for updates.
Happy to answer questions at any time!
Dr Lara Cain Gray
Specialist Librarian (Content Strategy and Publishing)
Library For All
How does the interaction between pictures and words work to create something special in a picture book? Carolyn generously shared the process that she used as an author/illustrator when creating her latest book Maya and Cat.
Caroline loves individuality in a picture book and while it can be seen as a weakness by some editors, Caroline assured us that if your quirky story is something that you desperately want to do then it is important to keep on with it.
Caroline described writing a picture book as being like a two legged sack race between writing and illustrating. Each has their own mode of telling. Behind every image is an idea and emotion. Behind every word is an idea and emotion, a successful picture book the marriage of the two.
Painting of Caroline by Inda Ahmad Zabri
It was exciting to hear the story that was the genesis of Maya and Cat and to be shown examples of the multitude of rough charcoal sketches that Caroline used to help her coalesce and refine the story in her head into something that would work as a picture book. She demonstrated the flexibility and possibilities of a charcoal sketch when working out how to fit the theatre of your story into the standard 32 page format.
Once Caroline has the book mapped out visually then she often finds that the words just come by themselves. For her the visual literacy comes before the verbal story. Caroline urged us to read our stories out loud, to talk them through with trusted others so that we are aware of where the reader will pause and where they will build the theatre of the story.
Caroline loves to work with watercolour. She has an affinity for it and demonstrated to us how to use the two techniques wet on wet and wet on dry. She talked about the importance of colour theory and how to create a palette. Then it was time for us to play with watercolour while we experimented with the techniques that she had demonstrated. I found this part of the workshop relaxing and challenging as I attempted to paint something recognisable while using the techniques we had learnt. It was fun and Caroline kindly came around to everyone of us to share her feedback and ideas.
As a struggling picture book author I felt enormously encouraged when Caroline concluded the workshop with her assurances “You can teach yourself anything. Don’t doubt yourself. I got here from a standing start. Anyone can make their creative dreams come true through hard work and effort.”
Thank you Caroline for conducting an inspiring and informative workshop. I have learnt so much from you today.
Kate Shapcott is an Early Childhood Teacher who plays around with words and ideas and hopes one day to publish a picture book herself.
Photography: Maria Parenti-Baldey
Photography: Ian Morrison
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
What inspires an author to write and how do they translate this passion into a story that interests others? Who better to share some insight than Karen Tyrrell who weaves her passion for the environment through her Song Bird series.
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
WHY Great Barrier Reef Rescue?
I created my eco adventure mystery, Great Barrier Reef Rescue from my life experiences as an amateur snorkeller, environmentalist, biology major at teacher’s college, teacher and science co-ordinator at my primary school.
As author of the Song Bird eco series, I pondered which environment should feature in Song Bird 4 after its prequel Rainforest Rescue.
I settled on the ocean and the reef as my family and I had spent many tropical holidays swimming with giant green turtles, giant Maori wrasse and stingrays off the Great Barrier Reef. At school, I loved teaching about the ocean as a science subject to my Year 2 students. I took my class to King Island for a science excursion.
I’m an avid fan of Blue Planet, Sir David Attenborough’s TV series. When David proclaimed …
‘The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. It’s time to step up.’
— Sir David Attenborough
I was compelled to write Great Barrier Reef Rescue.
What’s Great Barrier Reef Rescue about?
Song Bird Superhero and her friends arrive on Green Turtle Island, discovering the reef and marine animals are dying. Before long, her friends disappear. Rosie (Song Bird) travels through a time portal to rescue her friends and solve a mystery.
Can Song Bird rescue the Great Barrier Reef before it’s too late?
How did you connect the story to children?
I wanted Great Barrier Reef Rescue to engage children with a thrilling action-packed adventure, superhero characters, marine animals and mysteries to solve. At the same time, I planted an eco-subplot to educate children on climate change and sustainability, encouraging children to take action. My mission was to educate, engage and empower children on how to care for the reef.
How did you write with co-author Steve Tyrrell?
Steve and I share a love of superheroes, fantasy, adventure and the environment. Steve wrote the Destructo chapters and dialogue (the evil environmental villain), the dream chapters and some of the action scenes. I wrote chapters from Song Birds point of view. We both critiqued and beta read each other’s chapters, so the story and dialogue flowed.
How did you get Brisbane City Libraries and a sponsor to support you?
I contacted Brisbane City Libraries and a sponsor, sharing my eco vision and goals with them. Brisbane City Libraries offered me a launch venue and Australian Marine Conservation Society offered resources to share at my events.
Great Barrier Reef Rescue evolved as the story I was compelled to write. As if all my prior life experiences had led me to this point.
5 Tips on Writing your WHY Book
1. Write what you’re passionate about, write what you care about.
2. Ask yourself: what are you most qualified to write?
3. What have you experienced first-hand?
4. If interviewed, how could you explain why you created that particular book to adults as well as to children?
5. Write THAT book.
FREE Great Barrier Reef Rescue Resources here
Find out more about Karen Tyrrell and Great Barrier Reef Rescue …
On April 14th I took my daughter Belinda (nine years old) along to Dave Lowe’s workshop for children, ‘How to be a writer.’ He knows how to entertain and inspire a group of 9 to 12 year old writers (and some older ones too!) Within the first minute there were chuckles throughout the room. We were immediately engaged when he told us some of the funniest questions he’s ever been asked by children, including ‘Why do you look nothing like your photograph?’
Dave Lowe then shared where his story ideas come from. He likes to ask himself the question, ‘What if?’ ‘What if a genius hamster could do your maths homework?’ From that question, came one of Belinda’s favourite books from Dave, My Hamster is a genius.
He then described the first three things writers need to think about before writing a story:
Know every detail about your character, right down to what do they like for breakfast.
3. Where to start. The first paragraph could:
· Introduce the character
· Introduce the setting
· Start with a conversation
· Have a chat with the reader
· Plunge into action
When writing the story, he advised to show and not tell. For example, ‘Jack was surprised’ could be changed to ‘Jack’s mouth dropped open and his eyes widened’. Also, text is less boring if the sentence length is varied throughout a paragraph.
Dave Lowe then talked about using wow words to add interest to the text. For example, ‘devoured’ rather than ‘eat’.
The children loved it when Dave shared some of his humour secrets. One of them is using the ‘rule of three’. For example, My Dad loves toast…Beans on toast, eggs on toast, toast on toast. Hee hee!
Belinda thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and thinks it was ‘the best writing workshop I’ve ever been to.’ At the end of the afternoon, we both came away with some writing gems, in addition to one of his new books The Incredible Dadventure. Belinda thinks it’s hilarious and highly recommends it!
Wenda grew up in the beautiful county of Norfolk in England and now resides in Brisbane, with her supportive husband, cheeky daughter and two rescue dogs. Wenda loves to write children’s stories with heart; whether it involves diversity, science or the magical world of the imagination.
Eva’s Imagination https://www.newfrontier.com.au/books/evas-imagination
Sheepy-Bear (Share Your Story anthology - It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas) https://www.lillypillypublishing.com/product-page/it-s-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-christmas-an-anthology-share-your-story )
The Tail of Sizzle the Sausage (CKT anthology –Wings, Superheroes and Determination) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/760744
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
Karen Foxlee was a humble presenter at the WriteLinks Middle Grade Workshop on 2 March 2019. This was despite just receiving notification that her latest book, Lenny’s Book of Everything, had been nominated as a Notable Book in the 2019 Children’s Book Council Awards for Younger Readers (update: now Shortlisted).
She started the session by saying that everyone writes in their own way and finds their own way.
Foxlee’s way of writing is very character-driven. She said, “The whole aim of my existence is to make characters that readers care about.” Her tips for creating memorable characters are to try to open yourself up to who is telling the story, and to give yourself time.
This time is essential because while some characters, such as Lenny, arrive fully-formed, “others look like the real deal, but you smell a rat.” This happened with the character of Kitty in A Most Magical Girl, where it took a lot of peeling back the layers to find the real Kitty.
Foxlee finds inspiration for her characters in memories of people she has seen on the street, characters in books and films and family stories. However, she really emphasised looking within your own heart. Many of her characters directly reflect periods of her life and aspects of her personality. Jenny Day is Foxlee as a child; Ophelia is her nursing self, wanting to be organised and sensible; and Rose is her teenage self.
In terms of differentiating characters, Foxlee likes to think in terms of the Big Four Chambers of the Human Heart (but they are not the anatomical metaphors you might think):
1. Memories eg Lenny’s memories of her father’s nicotine-stained fingers
2. Fears eg Lenny fears the outcome if her brother doesn’t stop growing
3. Secrets eg Lenny’s secret shame of her brother
4. Important Things (objects; intangibles; talismans) eg Lenny’s sticker from Wyoming
She feels that identifying one of these for each character is more powerful than describing the character.
Once you have more understanding of your characters’ motivations, the next challenge is conveying this to the reader. This is where literature is different from other art forms, because readers have access to the thoughts and internal dialogue of characters.
And this, according to Foxlee, is where things can go wrong in the writing. If you find yourself stuck or slipping out of character, she suggests getting messy with stream of consciousness writing. Also, staying switched on to thought triggers, for example the hole in Ophelia’s pocket reminds her of her mother. Foxlee recommends being consistent and staying centred in the heart of the character, describing how they feel and think, not just describing things. And utilising the five senses while doing all of this.
As usual in an audience of writers, we asked all the process questions of Foxlee. She answered very graciously, basically saying that she is a pantser, starting with characters and then finding the plot. If she gets stuck she often uses the “cracked mirror” approach, where she writes things that might happen in the story, for example Lenny and her brother might want to run away; something about a doctor’s visit, and then puts the pieces together. By three months in to the writing process she knows how these will all fit together.
In terms of her writing life, Foxlee is still juggling her writing with casual nursing and motherhood. She gets up between 4:30 and 5am and writes until 7am; then again 9-11am on her writing days.
Ideally she likes to write daily for three to four months. She was very grateful to be awarded a Fellowship grant from the State Library of Queensland to facilitate her writing.
Karen Foxlee’s latest book is Lenny’s Book of Everything. Her first picture book is being released in May 2019.
Painting by Inda Ahmad Zabri
Zewlan Moor is a writer, GP and bibliotherapist, @byronbiblio www.byronbibliotherapy.com
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley