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The Beast of Moogill
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Date:2011-11-07 12:34
Subject:QWC/Allen & Unwin Manuscript Development Program
Security:Public

This is what a Queensland Writers Centre/Allen & Unwin Manuscript Development Program looks like:

More or less, but usually not with pizza.


This is who was there:

Sophie Overett, Felicity Carter, Terri Green, Cathy McLennan, Sally Rippin, Erica Wagner, Pippa Masson, Frank Leggett, Jessica Miller, Vicki Stanton, and Robyn Osborne, all of whom are in the photo, also Sarah Brennan, Aimee Lindorf, Kate Eltham, Meg and Sarah and Imogen and... you can bet I've left someone out.


It was held mostly at the QWC offices in the state library in Brisbane and went like this:

Meet, chat, meet mentor and editors, chat, orientation, chat, eat, chat, sleep, chat, eat, chat, overview, chat, eat, consultation with editor, mentor consultation, debrief, chat, spa, chat, eat, chat, readings, chat, sleep, chat, coffee, chat, seminar, eat, chat, seminar, debrief, chat. So... mostly it was a great chance to chat about the industry of creating books for children.


But it was MORE than that. Just quietly, I've been kicking about a while, but this was the most I'd delved beneath the surface of what it is publishers, editors and agents actually do and how they work together with writers, the nuts and bolts, the nitty and the gritty. This was insight into their decision-making processes and the factors that they are governed by. I thought I knew a lot, but now I feel like I know almost everything.


But it was MORE than that. Because the editors at Allen & Unwin had chosen the eight manuscripts they wanted to see developed themselves, we were assured up-front that this was no mistake, our manuscripts were on track. We each had personal feedback on our manuscript from an Allen & Unwin editor and a request to see them once reworked. What an opportunity!


I don't think it's easy for an editor to give feedback on a manuscript to a fairly new writer. If they hit you with the good stuff upfront, you'll be overly excited and forget to listen to the negatives, the things that need changing, or, if they start with the things that need changing, a new writer could fall into a pit of despair, and never hear the good stuff. The editor is in a no win situation. Particularly with me. My editor started with the good stuff, and I was just thinking "yeah, yeah, get all that praise rubbish out of the way, where's the punchline? What's the kicker? Hit me with it. Tell me it's beautiful but there's no place in the market for it and get it over with!" But, I didn't get told that... Allen & Unwin are interested in publishing a novel like mine, if I can accomplish what they hope I can in the rewrite.


Being told that, is in itself quite paralysing. The technical difficulty of the rewrite at first seems daunting. Sorting out in your head what needs to be done is incredibly difficult when a little voice is crying, "you don't understand what needs to be done/you're not capable of that/you'll let this opportunity slide because you're just not smart enough!" Where did that ridiculous voice come from? Do all writers have unhelpful thoughts? I think it would be a very long search if I were to look for one person who thought I wasn't capable of this. If the past has taught me anything, it taught me the best way to silence a stupid thought is to press on and do the thing that it says you can't. Point by point, I addressed the things that need to be addressed, however daunting. The voice was silenced. I could breathe again, I stopped the furious back-peddling, pressed forwards and fully appreciated the opportunity.


You know the saying: "A fish must be ready to breathe before he can fly." I think that applies to new writers. And I don't mean the ridiculously new self-published writers pumping their fins furiously and coughing their gills out into the world screaming "Look at me! Look at me!" I mean writers who've been writing and learning and writing and having minor successes and learning and writing some more, growing lungs. Publishing today is tough. You have to be sufficiently equipped, you have to know what you're doing, and you have to be brave. You'll need lungs and you'll need wings, if you want to fly.

If you're reading this because you're hoping to do a manuscript development program through QWC and you're wondering what it's all about, it's basically an opportunity to make new friends (children's writers are ALWAYS awesome caring people), an opportunity to learn more about the industry, and refine a manuscript a publisher has shown genuine interest in. If you only get one of those things out of it, it's a worthy pursuit. If you've been priming your lungs and you're brave enough, it might also be an opportunity to try your wings.



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Date:2011-09-07 21:56
Subject:Great News!
Security:Public
Mood: cheerful

This is a fairweather blog and the sun is shining again.


I was lucky enough to be given a spot in the Allen & Unwin/QWC Manuscript Development program to work on my children's novel "Rocket". It involves a long weekend in Brisbane working with editors and publishers along with seven other children's writers.


More about it here:

Queensland Writers Centre/Allen & Unwin Manuscript Development program

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Date:2010-05-14 20:23
Subject:Do You Have Young Speculative Fiction Readers?
Security:Public

If so, I encourage you all to buy this collection of short stories: Worlds Next Door

It's not very often you'll come across a collection of speculative short stories aimed at primary school children, and just look at the list of contributing authors! You can tell it's special before you even open the cover. Okay, I'm in there... but I'm impressed by the company and you should be too!

Worlds Next Door



Right now, there is a prepublication special price you can take advantage of. Buy a copy for yourself and don't forget to show it to teachers at your child's school. A supporting website with lesson plans is in the making. Teachers often flounder when teaching genre writing to children unless they are fans themselves, and this book could be just what they're looking for.



ALSO...

Blake Ed have been updating their website and if you'd like to look inside the books I've had published in the last few months or (hint, hint) recommend them to your child's school, click the covers below:







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Date:2010-04-09 14:41
Subject:They're at the Printers!
Security:Public

And this is what the covers will look like...

There's No Such Thing:


The Adventures of Zip Velocity:

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Date:2010-03-23 08:03
Subject:Spiney Poetry
Security:Public

Loving this blog post by Kat Apel introducing us to Spiney Poetry.



Some people are so creative!

While we are on the subject. I also like this interview with Janeen Brian an Australian children's writer, artist and poet who really knows where her towel is with regards to producing wonderful work for children.

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Date:2010-02-08 22:09
Subject:Artwork for "No Such Thing"
Security:Public
Mood: happy

I'm extremely lucky to have Ritva Voutila illustrating my next story. Not only is her style wacky and fun but she's brought the scenes alive. The skin tones, the movement, the colour, the sneaky alien tentacles that seem to be exploring everything tell their own story.

I've arranged for a sneak preview:




Pop over to www.ritvavoutila.com and have a look at Ritva's work.

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Date:2010-01-06 12:27
Subject:Here they are!
Security:Public

At least here are the covers they'll be wearing!




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Date:2010-01-02 15:18
Subject:Welcome to 2010!
Security:Public

Please go on in and have a great decade, because if we all survive 2012, 2020 is just around the corner!

I found this little gift for writers:




Have a great year!

Bren

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Date:2009-11-01 17:00
Subject:Go Little Gecko, Go!
Security:Public

A couple more roughs of pages from Jan D'Silva for Go Go Gecko and your previewing pleasure:

(Removed as book is now published)

If you want to see more of what Jan D'Silva is doing head over to the studio at Moving Ideas Animation

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Date:2009-10-30 21:57
Subject:Anchovy Circus... on its Way to a Field Near You!
Security:Public

Anchovy Circus is on the move! This is Connah's rough of anchovies mashed together to make an elephant. Love this elephant!

(Removed as book is now published)

Remember, you can find Connah at www.connahbrecon.com and www.GetDead.Etsy.com

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Date:2009-10-12 17:14
Subject:Anchovy Circus... Roll Up, Roll Up!
Security:Public

Who in their right mind would think up a circus made of dried anchovies?

Anchovy Circus... it's the kind of story a mad person might dream up if they were sitting around one day putting random unrelated words together just to see if it would spark story ideas... oh, while we're on the subject, do you have any thing for Cosmic Lobster? No?

Anyway, some odd person made up a story called Anchovy Circus, and some extremely farsighted publisher thought it was a good idea and challenged a very talented illustrator to make the story come alive.

Connah Brecon is doing sensational things with anchovies and characters and I hope he's not cursing the storyline too much. It's about a boy who doesn't like anchovies and hides them under his bed, then he notices that as they dry out, they twist and stick together into strange shapes, strange animal shapes... so he makes a circus out of them... after that, things really get wacky.

Connah has very kindly lent me a few roughs to show you:

(Removed as book is now published)

If you like his funky style as much as I do, check out www.connahbrecon.com
and you can buy some of his artwork at www.GetDead.Etsy.com.

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Date:2009-10-11 12:10
Subject:Go Go Gecko Comes Alive!
Security:Public
Mood: happy

The books I signed contracts for a few months ago with Blake Education are having life breathed into them courtesy of some very fine illustrators.

Jan D'Silva is doing wonderful stuff with Go Go Gecko and is one half of a partnership that runs an animation studio called Moving Ideas Animation.

I know you all want to see the dancing gecko so here is a sneak peak:


(Removed as book is now published)

Gorgeous aren't they?

Thanks Jan!

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Date:2009-10-05 22:52
Subject:Honourable Mentions for Best Horror
Security:Public

I received an online honourable mention from Ellen Datlow as part of her search for her Best of Horror 2009 collection for my short YA story "Being Bella Wang".

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Date:2009-09-17 08:21
Subject:Flash Fiction - New Scientist
Security:Public

I spend most of my time writing novels that never sell BUT I'm a lover of the short form and most of my short science fiction does find homes. The shortest of the shorts is flash fiction which is usually anywhere from 50 words to 500 words, and perfect for online reading.

Antipodean SF is a downunder online mag that specialises in flash fiction and can be found at antisf.com. Five of my flash publications were with them and are now archived at the National Library of Australia as part of their Pandora project.

Kim Stanley Robinson recently challenged 8 science fiction writers to write some flash set 100 years into the future. Now, while not all the novelists grasped the concept of flash, Geoff Ryman clearly didn't attempt it and just posted a mini essay (and that is fine, novel writing is a far cry from flash fiction and not everyone is talented in every area), there are still some fun quick reads here, and a contest if you want to have a go yourself. You have less than a month to come up with 350 words: New Scientist.

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Date:2009-07-31 22:49
Subject:And two more...
Security:Public
Mood: exhausted

I signed two more contracts for Sparklers with Blake Ed this month. Up two four children's books with Blake for this year so far.

Only just got around to posting it here because it's been such a busy month. Been working full time to cover for someone who was away at the company that I contract to as well as very busy at home and in my self-employed projects. I hate working all day, coming home, cooking, cleaning, and working all night... super suckky... it makes Bren a very dull girl... but it is the lot of the self-employed, I guess. It's not all perks.

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Date:2009-06-04 17:16
Subject:Success!
Security:Public
Mood: cheerful

Signed two contracts today for children's educational fiction with Blake Ed. They are part of the 'Sparklers' fiction series.

I already have three 'Gigglers' with Blake Ed. They are a sensational company to work with and the 'Gigglers' were top class books. Can't wait to see the finished product.

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Date:2008-12-16 13:53
Subject:Reviews for "Being Bella Wang"
Security:Public

I'm getting great reviews for "Being Bella Wang" in SHiNY mag I'd like to share:

The Fix

As If

Last Short Story. Tansy already had Being Bella Wang on her list of favs for 2008.

The Elephant Forgets - go down to 9 Dec.

That's 4 positives from 4 reviews. A new record for me.

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Date:2008-11-10 16:30
Subject:Tell All Your Friends
Security:Public

What happens when the marketing machine breaks down?

This is what. Blogs and emails go out to let you know about a great new book by a local author who is not only extremely talented, funny, and hardworking, but extaordinarily generous. Sherryl's given help to every other author she's ever met. So who could let a chance to pay back that kindness slip by.

Not only do you get a great story by one of the best children's writers in the country, it is beautifully illustrated by Tom Jellet. His illustrations are practically synonymous with fun Aussie books.

See Sherryl's email below:

From: Sherryl Clark
Date: 9 November 2008


Subject: The Littlest Pirate and me


Dear family and friends,
I'm trying out something new (well, it's new for me!) and would really appreciate your help. My new picture book, The Littlest Pirate, is out in time for Christmas gift buying, which is great. What's not so great is that nobody knows about it! No publicity that I can see.


So I thought I'd attempt something of my own. If you could forward this email to anyone you know who might be interested (e.g. people with kids and grandkids), that would be an enormous help. And if you have received this email from a friend, if you could forward it on as well, that would be fantastic. I guess I'm trying my own version of "internet marketing"! And hoping you will all help me.


The picture book is wonderful - full colour and in a hardback edition with a jacket. What's even better is that Penguin have priced it for the gift buyers at $19.95. (The average price of a hardback picture book these days is around $28.) It's a longer story, suitable for ages 3 up to 7.
I'm attaching a picture of the cover - it's pretty eye-catching!
I've been told by friends that it's in plenty of bookshops so hope you will consider it as a present for someone, or at least pass this on.
Many thanks.
Sherryl


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Date:2008-11-01 22:39
Subject:SHINY and New
Security:Public

SHINY a YA SF mag is out now and one of its stories is mine.

Being Bella Wang is a short story where I got to combine a bit of Asian myth with a bit of science fiction and Australian values.

It was a case of writing what I wanted to write (I'd been thinking about writing stories set in SE Asia for years) and editors actually liking it.

Thinking about doing more of that, ignoring the market and writing what I want stuff. It's a lot more fun that way.

Get your copy here:
http://shinymag.blogspot.com/

Or here:
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/1142391.html


In sad news Sputnik 57 is no more. They had two of my stories there, the Clarion one about the Luggage Carousel, and that old odd slapstick SF, Delicacy. All rights revert to me... but what do I do with them?

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Date:2008-06-10 08:51
Subject:Financial Year End in Sight
Security:Public

Reminder: Time for all you self-employed writer types to top up your super with your contribution so the government will match it because self-employed writer types are all low-income earners. Don't leave it till the last day like I usually do.

Pay your BAS for this quarter, start getting all those 07/08 invoices and receipts in a pile and wait for those little yellow slips to roll in from all your part-time jobs and the final BAS sheet to rock up and then you'll only have to put all the amounts into columns the night before you head off to the accountant to get all your tax back. Yes, you're a writer, you didn't make enough money this year, you should get all your tax back. If you don't, look at your record-keeping and ask your accountant what else you should be claiming.

I wandered into the movie room at MacDibble Hotel last night and a movie had already started. I waited till someone got up and stole a comfy chair and settled down to watch. Within five minutes I sat bolt upright and exclaimed: "I recognise that dialogue!" It wasn't a book I'd read, although it was a book I'd attempted to buy without success, so for me to recognise the dialogue was merely me recognising the writer's style. A quick crawl around the floor hunting for the remote in the dark, which cost me my comfy chair and caused a wail of protests as the blue info window partially obscured the movie, proved that the movie was Stardust by Neil Gaiman.

Until that moment, I hadn't registered that Gaiman's style was so distinguishable from other great writers. It felt very English in the movie, so that narrowed it down I suppose, and it was clearly a fantasy mix so that narrowed it down even further but it wasn't until I heard a bit of dialogue that the brain went "PING!"

Of course, in a movie, all that's left of the writer's words IS the dialogue, unless there is a narrator. Anyway, fun movie, great dialogue, watch it and pay attention to that Gaiman style and think about your own style.

I've just completed a webdesign course through Chisholm Institute (92% on the final exam!), in the hope that making webpages for people will provide me with a little more income, and I'm back teaching science fiction in schools around Melbourne. I was teaching SF a few years ago and quickly got through all the children interested in science fiction, so I got a part-time job doing office work instead, but since I've been away, there seems to be a surge in interest in science fiction and other teachers have stepped in and picked up topics like space travel and alien creature building which were some of the things that I did with the kids. I was surprised, but the new interest of the children and other teachers reflected the publishers' interest at the CBC Con recently. Obviously science fiction appeals more people than it used to. I spent years thinking I was some kind of genre geek, when I was clearly just ahead of my time.

This is an argument for following your muse no matter how geeky it may seem at the time.

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