The Essentials for being an Author

Republished from Sheryl Gwyther‘s writers’ blog … 

vermeer-lady-writing

When I run writing classes, people often ask for hints on how to become better writers (and so do children – thankfully, for a future of great stories still to come!)

These are the essentials I pass on…..

  • Have an active imagination. Always ask, WHAT IF?

  • Be an acute observer of people, nature, places and things. Learn how to develop an ‘artist eye and ear’. Be aware of all your senses, totally.

  • Read voraciously (like a foraging seagull) with a hunger for story.

  • Learn by osmosis, and from the wise advice of the experienced and the successful; to glean more information on how to do it better from books and the web, and also from workshops run by those who have been ‘through the mill’ themselves, and who’ve gained much knowledge from their wide experience.

  • You will face manuscript rejections – regard them as your apprenticeship. Even experienced writers get manuscripts rejected. We are a small market in Australia. Unfortunately, a fact of life.

  • Never give up. If you are truly meant to be a writer, perseverance and toughness is essential at those most vulnerable moments of painful rejection or ‘so-so’ reviews. But you will pick yourself up, learn from the experience and start editing and re-writing to make your story even better.

  • Join a small writers’ group you can trust in – everyone there will understand the mountains we travail in this job; they will support, just like you would do in return.
  • Join a support network like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators … a global network. We have an excellent regional group here in Australia and New Zealand.

ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

Image: Johannes Vermeer’s portrait of a writing woman in 1670-71. One of his beautiful studies of women in the sublime light of his studio. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Writing_a_Letter_with_her_Maid

ANGELA SUNDE’S … ‘Snap Magic’ book launch coming soon

SCBWI member, Angela Sunde talks about the publishing journey of her new book for young people, Snap Magic.
Notes.to.Editor-Feature.SnapMagic.docx-5******************

SNAP MAGIC – EDITED BY CATHERINE McCREADIE, former senior editor of children’s books, Penguin Australia (now working freelance at Penguin and Allen & Unwin).

Snap.Magic.Invite.BCat2

 

SCBWI Queensland’s Gold Coast meet a great success

Inaugural SCBWI Queensland Gold Coast Regional Meeting 

Report: Sheryl Gwyther, SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor

Another SCBWI Queensland regional members’ meeting was held on Saturday 24th August – time time, at Tallebudgera Valley on the Gold Coast. It was splendid to see authors and illustrators traveling from as far away as north of Brisbane to south of the Queensland/NSW’s border.

Twenty-five writers, illustrators and librarians, SCBWI members and non-members talked, listened, shared morning tea, lunch and then afternoon tea, networked, shared recent successes and other news, and generally had an excellent time at the home of Angela Sunde, SCBWI support team member.gold coast gig9Our guest speaker, Judith Rossell presented a powerpoint of her work, especially her recently published picture book, Oliver.judith r 2 Of great interest was her journal of drawings she worked on at her May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Residency in Brisbane. The story is set in Victorian England and her pen and ink drawings are sublime.

SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor, Sheryl Gwyther also presented a slide show, Dinosaurs, Research and Writing … turning a trip through time into a novel, talking about the journey of her children’s novel, Secrets of Eromangasheryl_presentationThank you to Angela Sunde and husband, Rob Brown for their generous hospitality, and to Judith Rossell who generously donated her fee back to SCBWI Qld. And thank you to our wonderful members who once again proved that they are the best bunch of people this side of the Black Stump. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

HITTING THE HIGH NOTES AT THE SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE, NEW YORK

Better late than never! Here’s a guest post from SCBWI West’s Reporter-at-Large and Regional Advisor, Frané Lessac, illustrator, and Susanne Gervay, SCBWI Australia/NZ RA and author. Thank you, FranéSCBWI_2013_NY_blog headerHave to admit, I was a wee bit anxious leaving an Australian summer for sub zero temperatures of the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. I need not have worried. The Conference hotel was conveniently located smack bang above Grand Central Station with gazillions of restaurants, shops and public transport right downstairs.

The bonus of attending SCBWI New York is that many of the top US children’s book editors, agents, publishers and art directors get involved. With 999 attendees, 17 countries represented, and 45 US states, it was a constant thrill in the elevators to find out who was from where. When they realized WA wasn’t an abbreviation for the state of Washington, West Australia always got the biggest wow. 🙂 new-york-new-york_Frane-

Meg Rosoff gave the first keynote entitled “So When Are You Going to Write a Real Book, You Know, For Adults?” She was hysterical when she translated that into a list of people she wanted to punch in the face for asking. Most celebrity authors were targets. Jay Leno’s book, IF ROAST BEEF COULD FLY had a roasting for sure.

I must have heard Shaun Tan speak over a dozen times. He never ceases to amaze me. Every time his talk is different – even if he’s talking about the same piece of art. He received a standing ovation, not only from me, but by the other 998 attendees too!

Another keynote was by NY Times bestselling mother and daughter writing team, Julie Andrews and Emma Walton. Although their presentation was heavily scripted, it was a highlight seeing Mary Poppins in person.

Mo Willems gave the closing keynote – inspiration and infotainment at its best.

A major US children’s bookseller had some good news to share. In her opinion: The library and school markets are healthy. Schools have money to buy books, although mostly paperbacks. They’re looking for short stories, fairy tales and folktales relating to the curriculum, and narrative non-fiction. Also the go: action packed novels, bullying, movie tie-ins, war, survival and diversity.

There are funds for author school visits with Skype visits on the increase. Bookstores are coming back and the balance is changing. In the future, stores may be used as showrooms, as people buy an ebook after viewing the print version. The balance will never be equal again, but children still want a book to hug.

Frane in America1
Frané keeping company with pumpkins.

If anyone would like more information about attending the New York or Los Angeles SCBWI Conferences, please feel free to contact Frané Lessac.

Conference blog link: http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com.au/

SCBWI Queensland members’ get together

It’s always fun getting together with our members. Here’s an image of our last meeting held at The Collectors’ Cafe, at Queensland Museum in Brisbane.

Angela Sunde, Sheryl Gwyther, Julie Nickerson, Anil Tortop, Betty Collarson, Jacki Halpin and Jennifer Poulter on the other side of the lens.
Angela Sunde, Sheryl Gwyther, Julie Nickerson, Anil Tortop, Betty Collarson, Jacki Halpin and Jennifer Poulter on the other side of the lens.

Our guest speaker, Jessica Miller spoke about her short-listing in the Text Prize with her work-in-progress, Elizabeth and Zenobia, a junior fiction novel. It sounds like a fascinating read and we can’t wait for it to be published one day, for surely it will. 🙂

Members also shared some of the work they’re doing at the moment, and discussion ranged from e-book publishing contract pros and cons; Angela’s new picture book draft :); Betty’s story for kids set in her home country of Brazil, and a whole heap more. The coffee was good and the muffins even better.

Sorry to those members unable to make it on a weekday – promise the next one will be on the usual Sunday.