Quite a few Write Link Members had an amazing weekend at the CYA dinner and conference where three of the six writers on the CYA Success Panel were also Write Links members. Congratulations to Caylie Jeffrey, Karen Tyrrell and Samantha Wheeler!
And while we are talking about success stories, here are a few more!
Sharing Write Links successes will now be a regular feature on our blog. I know of several other Write Links members with new and upcoming successes to share in the very near future.
We finish this post with some great tips and insights, including highs and lows, from each featured author from their road to publication.
Melanie Hill as Melanie Bird
18 is an Anthology of short stories for Young Adults collated by Vision Writers. Melanie’s short story is titled ‘The Black Queen'.
Road to Publication:
In September of 1996, a collection of speculative fiction authors founded Vision Writers. Now, in celebration of eighteen years bleeding on the page, we present 18, a collection of stories showcasing our best emerging talents.
Featuring cave crocodiles and spell absorbing beards, a seance with soul, a night in a gypsy caravan to make all your wishes come true and a journey through hell that will make you swear to be good. Come with us to rebuild the world clock, face the dragon queen and hide from the thing under the bed.
18 is self published anthology using the editing and self-publishing expertise of some of the Vision members. The stories are aimed at young adult to adult readers.
The e-book version can be purchased from Amazon for $1.07. Print on Demand hard copies can be ordered through the authors for about $9 a copy. Purchase your copy here.
Publication: Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers
Road to Publication:
After trying my hand at children's picture book writing, I found that my words appealed more to adults than children, so I started a blog with weekly essays about life matters and imperfect parenting and haven't stopped writing since, for myself and several other publications.
A friend suggested I self-publish a collection of essays from my blog, and hey presto! the idea for Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers was created! I researched how to self-publish, found a printer I liked in Brisbane, a cover illustrator and an editor to help me with the work I'd done. I asked several close writer friends to critique the final draft, and after a lot of hard work by many people, the book was successfully launched before Mothers Day 2014.
The target audience is women between 25 and 125, mainly mothers, but plenty of men have been enjoying it as well, and non-parents, so it has something for everyone in it.
You can purchase your copy here.
Publication: STOP the Bully
This is a children’s book for 8 to 12 year olds, teachers, parents and school counsellors.
Road to Publication:
I’m a survivor of childhood bullying and parent-teacher bullying. I’m passionate about empowering children with an uplifting story with bully prevention skills. I wanted to show all perspectives of the bullying problem including the victim and the bully.
The ending of the story came to me first. Then I wrote the story backwards over 18 months. STOP the Bully was Beta read by members of my Genre Writers group plus Charmaine, Jacqui and Leslee from Write Links.
I independently published with the help from editor, Sally Odgers, Book Cover Cafée and illustrator Trevor Salter who designed the cover characters.
STOP the Bully is supported by Kids Helpline & Logan Mayor Pam Parker, aligned with Kids Matter, Education Queensland
Available at Amazon Black Cat Books Riverbend Books and Book Shops here.
Publication: Undertow (Anthology)
Road to Publication:
Jocelyn's story ‘Dear Sam’ was published by Prana Writers, a Gold Coast writing group in May 2014. This is one of 20 stories in an anthology titled ‘Undertow. - Tales from Outside the Flags. ‘ - a unique publishing venture.
Prana Writers received funding from The Regional Arts Development Fund, Queensland Government and the City of the Gold Coast. Each chosen story features a historical photograph which shows some aspect of the Gold Coast environment from the sea to the hinterland. ‘Dear Sam’ is set in the Numinbah Valley in 1942 and my chosen picture was the Natural Arch. This place was of particular interest to me as I had discovered its magic as a child and later this was a special place to which we often returned over the years.
Undertow is available from Amazon for $17.95 plus postage. Purchase your copy here.
Tips for emerging writers from our featured authors:
Join a writing group or two. Camaraderie and shoulders to cry on are essential in your journey as a writer.
Set yourself realistic and achievable goals. Review your progress regularly and you will be surprised at how much you achieve.
Don't be afraid to self-publish. There are plenty of people to help you on your way, and in the time it takes to be 'discovered', you could have published your own book. Never scrimp on quality and make sure you have trusted people to edit your work who will be absolutely straight with you. Be prepared to hear bad news about your craft! You don't need to spend a million dollars for a great product- it's possible to work smart within a budget.
Enlist key supporters prior to publishing for possible logos and endorsements.
To acknowledge that this is not an easy road at times, what has been the most frustrating experience on the road to publication?
Trying to re-write and edit two drafts of my story over Christmas while we were driving to Tasmania and back with a car full of kids and limited internet coverage.
Having to sell my own products to strangers is really hard work- firstly, it's difficult for most people to blow their own horn, talk to strangers and become a centre of attention in the public arena. Start off small, practice with people you know at book launches and small events if you're frightened to promote. Go to other book events and launches to see what's involved. To sell books, published traditionally or by yourself, you will still need to self-promote.
Smooth sailing but a few hiccups with the printer forgetting to list, Stop The Bully, on world-wide distributing channels. All fixed now.
And lastly, what has been the most rewarding experience since publication?
Downloading the book onto my own Kindle and reading the final versions of everyone's stories.
Having strangers write to me to tell me how much they've enjoyed the book and how they connected with me through my writing! Oh, and being asked to be a speaker at the Brisbane Writers' Festival in September 2014!
Taking STOP the Bully to CYA Conference, Gold Coast Writer’s Festival, to schools & libraries.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the successes of these Write Link members, we look forward to sharing many more of these stories in the future!
By Caylie Jeffery
We children’s writers and illustrators love it when a Conference like CYA (Children's and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators Conference) comes up. For so many reasons:
1. Networking: this is the place where you can meet other writers and illustrators, a few agents and perhaps a publisher or two. It’s where you can hand your freshly printed business cards around and perhaps, if you’ve already successfully published your own work, show your books to your peers. You might casually mention that you need help with your rhyming couplets to the winner of last year’s poetry competition and find yourself in an impromptu lesson about word play. You might have your art portfolio with you and a budding writer decides you are the person to do beautiful pictures for their next book.
2. Socialising: As writers and illustrators, we spend an awful lot of time by ourselves in front of a screen, a drawing board or a book. Despite hours and hours writing about and drawing people, we rarely see them. The conference is a time to meet, greet, embrace and get to know old and new friends in the field we’re all so passionate about. Social networking has certainly helped, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the joy of seeing a familiar face and sharing a laugh or a tear in person. There are dinners and lunches and tea/coffee opportunities to hang and chat, and I guarantee that you’ll come away richer for the people you’ve met.
3. Learning: To sit and listen to your peers sharing their processes, their work-life balance, their publishing successes (or how they pick themselves up from their non-successes!), how to present work to children and the public, how to market their products and where to go to get assistance, is more valuable to writers and illustrators than days surfing the internet. Real information coming from real people who’ve been there and done that, will give you so many tools for your kit.
4. Motivation: After a day of learning, socialising and networking, every single volunteer, organiser, speaker and attendee is exhausted! But that shattered feeling is juxtaposed with a euphoria and elation about your own writing and illustrating process. After a good nights’ sleep, you’ll wake up after the conference and your previously laborious job of editing your last book or inking your last picture becomes a joy and a thrill as you inject all of your new-found knowledge into the process. Conferences like CYA fill your wings with air and your eyes with light again, to motivate you forward in your endeavours.
5. Publisher meetings: These elusive people are on hand to sit down and tell you what they think of your manuscript or portfolio. Having sent it in to the organisers a few months before the conference, your selected publisher will have had time to read (yes, READ) or view your work before your meeting. They’ll critique it, they’ll talk with you about it and they’ll let you know where to go from here. Whether or not they love it is not the biggest draw card. It’s the feedback, and the steps towards publishing success that really give you value for the money you pay for that meeting. Be prepared with your spiel, know your work intimately, and set your expectations for ‘a learning opportunity’ because you will never be disappointed with the results.
6. Thrills: yes, you’ve entered several pieces into the competitions, and that’s the biggest reason you’re at this conference. You want to know how your stories fit in amongst those of your peers. You want to know whether you are way off the mark with what you’ve been writing/drawing or whether you have exactly what it takes to be a children’s writer or illustrator. We all want our babies to win in the competition. We all want our story and art work to be put in front of respected publishing houses. We all want to sit at the top of someone’s slush pile. But I’ll warn you now... we can’t all win and the majority of the people attending don’t! As you’ll remember from your childhood, “It’s not about winning, it’s how you play the game that counts”. The most valuable thing I get from entering these competitions is the feedback sheet I receive from the adjudicators after the conference for each story I submit. At least two respected authors or publishers will have read your stories, and they’ll tell you exactly where you went well and what you need to do to get better. Similarly to the publisher meetings, the words you hear will either push you faster along a path you’re already on or direct you towards a different path, one that may suit you better.
Every cent you spend towards the CYA conference will be worth it, for any of the above reasons. We all need people, we all need feedback and we all need encouragement. Very few of us are looking to become millionaires. We write and draw because we are passionate about what we do. We might make a living out of it one day, and of course, that’s what we’d all like, but that’s not the driving force behind why we’re here. We have a skill that needs to be honed and shared.
So, get those stories written and those drawings drawn. Review them, edit them, give them to trusted colleagues to proof and critique and then get those entries in! Book your publisher meeting and be prepared with your self-promotion.
And don’t forget...
· Bring your business cards and hand them out to people you meet
· Bring your portfolio... you never know who might want to have a look
· Bring copies of your books to show off
· Bring your preferred method of recording new information... laptop or paper/pen
· Wear a smile!
And I’ll see ya at CYA on the 4th and 5th of July!
Caylie Jeffery (Write Links member)
To find out more about Caylie and her new release 'Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers' check out her website: http://www.cayliejeffery.com.au/