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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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
Our very own Write Linker, Jacqui Halpin, has just released her second picture book, 'Where's Lucky?' with Little Pink Dog Books, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini. Lucy McGinley was delighted to interview Jacqui about her inspiration for the story.
How did you get involved with Our Haven Wildlife Shelter?
I saw a video someone shared on Facebook of Tony from Our Haven bottle-feeding about 10 joeys all at once in what looked like an ordinary suburban kitchen. I thought, there has to be a picture book here somewhere. So, I followed them on Facebook to learn more about them. Then I contacted my publishers at Little Pink Dog Books and asked if they would be interested in a story based on Our Haven Wildlife Shelter, and they said yes! So, I contacted Theresa from Our Haven and got the ball rolling.
What came first the story idea or the desire to help the charity?
At first I just thought it would make a beautiful picture book, but as I discovered more about what Our Haven Wildlife Shelter actually did, and saw how hard they worked for the animals in their care, I realised it could be a lot more than just a lovely story. It could bring recognition for Our Haven and wildlife carers everywhere. I also wanted this book to be a way that children and adults could learn how to help care for our native animals. The final page has a list of tips on how the general public can help save our wildlife.
I’m blessed in that my publishers, Peter and Kathy Creamer from Little Pink Dog Books, are animal lovers and were happy to donate a percentage of the income from Where’s Lucky to Our Haven. Sandra and I both personally make donations to Our Haven as well.
Are all your stories about animals?
Actually, now that I think about it, a lot of my picture books are.
In your last book, you gave a percentage to help retired racehorses. I sense a theme! Does a ‘cause’ motivate you to write?
Sometimes. I’m of the opinion that good stories should do good. So, if I’m writing a story and it can benefit a worthy cause in some way, I’m happy to do it.
Mostly, the stories find me and they don’t always have a good cause in mind but that doesn’t mean they can’t do good in other ways.
Jacqui’s passion for children’s literature started when reading bedtime stories to her children. They outgrew their childhood books but Jacqui never did. Jacqui writes junior fiction, picture books, and short stories (for adults and children). Her short stories appear in anthologies by Stringybark Publishing and Creative Kids Tales.
Find out more about Jacqui and her books by following the links below.
This weekend I held the book launch of my latest two children’s novels, Daniel Barker By Power or Blight, and, Amy and Phoenix.
I have planned and implemented a few book launches with my five titles. I find a book launch is like a wedding but on a smaller scale. It needs preparation, can be stressful and overwhelming, and you’ll have a sore mouth from smiling for all those photos!
I congratulate you if you are coming up to your book launch, because already you’ve put in a mountain of work to have your book published, whether traditionally or independently.
Here are five tips to help you hold a successful book launch:
1) Decide on the date
If you are traditionally published you will be given a date that the book will be released. If you are independently published you will have an approximate date you think your book will be printed and ready to go. Even if you are traditionally published, you will most likely have to organise your own launch.
When making the date there are some things to think about:
* What other activities are on at the same time? Will your friends and loved ones be able to come or are there a lot of other conflicting events on the same day?
* If you would like your book launch put in your local council’s newsletter you will probably need to get that date to them six months in advance.
* If you need to book a venue, you will need to allow time to be able to negotiate this with them. They may not be able to do your first date.
* Make the book launch at least a month away (many say three months is better) so you can advertise and promote your book.
2) Book the venue
Where do you want to hold your book launch? There is no prescribed place. Many people hold their launches in bookshops or libraries, but you do not have to. I have held my book launches in two different parks and the local art gallery. I’ve had other friends hold their launches at sports clubs and in community halls. Do what you want to do.
Some things to think about before you book your venue:
* The cost of the venue. If you are hiring a room in a library or a community hall, sports club venue etc. you will need to pay.
* The weather. If you are outside, what will you do if the weather is inclement?
* Is the venue near public transport? You need to consider people who are unable to drive. All of my book launches have been near the train line.
* What facilities does the venue have? If you are at a park, are there toilets? Also, if you are at the park, what do you do for hot water etc.? If you are at the park you will also have the added furniture - gazebo, tables and chairs.
3) Send out invitations
If your venue has a limit of the number of people it can hold, you will need a guest list or a ticketed event. Invite people from all the different areas of your life. On Saturday I had family, and friends from my three writing groups, school, church, my childhood and my community. If you don’t have a limit, invite everyone who you think might be interested in attending.
After saying this, if you invite a large number of people, expect a large number of apologies. People are crazy busy and some people will just not want to attend. I had 70 apologies, and 40 people attended, and others who did not RSVP. Keep positive when all of those ‘I’m sorry I can’t make it…’ start coming in. Look at the people who do come and enjoy your celebration with them.
4) Market the launch
You may need a press release
A book launch is really a part of your marketing plan. Put your book launch on all of your social media platforms. Add snippets from your planning process, glimpses of your book and what it is about, and if you are able, make a promo video. It is a great idea to contact your local newspaper and ask if they would be interested in doing a story on you. In some instances, you may need to write a press release to send to media.
5) Plan your day
Like a wedding, you will need to have a To Do list, and a program for the day. Think about everything you will need depending on what you want to do in your book launch. Some people like to do a book reading, have art and craft activities, dress-ups for the children, prizes, pantomimes, or have puppets. Think about yourself, the book you are launching, and how you can make it unique in some way. Don’t try and replicate someone else’s but by all means take ideas from others you have seen and like.
* A banner
* Flyers, business cards, bookmarks
* Books (pre-sign to save time) and a pen
* A float/credit card facility (organise a person to handle the money for you on the day so you are free to just sign the books and chat)
* A cake & knife, tablecloth
* Food & drinks (plates, cups etc)
* Your speech
* Public liability insurance (check with venue)
You must have some type of speech. Your guests will be in awe of you. Many people would love to write a book but will never. You have! Make sure you explain a little about your book, or read some of it (if it is a picture book then read it all) so they know what it is about, and say anything else that you think would interest your guests. You can have someone interview you, or you can tell a story and then relate it to your book, act out a play… whatever you are comfortable doing. Write a list of who you would like to thank in case you forget someone. Even though writing is a solidary activity, there will be people who helped or supported you, encouraged you or have influenced you in your journey. And if you forget someone who is present, go to them and apologise (I did this on Saturday!) I also suggest that if you suffer from anxiety, practise your speech beforehand.
6) Post about it afterwards.
You’ll be exhausted afterwards, but this is not the end. You need to post on social media photos from the event and tell your followers how they can support you – by purchasing your books, posting reviews and telling people about you.
Then it’s time to get on with more writing!
Jenny Woolsey is an educator, author and speaker, on difference, diversity and difference. She is passionate about advocacy for facial differences, mental illness and inclusive education. Jenny has published five children’s/YA novels on her theme. Through her work, Jenny presents three messages: 1) Just be yourself 2) Embrace your differences 3) Be a victor not a victim. She ultimately wants everyone to feel valued and be accepted for who they are.