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Be brave and take risks

It all began during one of Jen Storer’s Live Scribbles rounds.

She asked us to consider a mantra for the year ahead.

I had been happily writing each day, posting blogs and enjoying being part of a writing community.

But it was too comfortable. So I decided then and there to be brave and take more risks.

I had masses of Picture Books texts pinned all over the place like lines of white washing, so I was determined to try another genre.

My middle grade story had been shortlisted in the Scribbles Creative Writing Awards so when a number of invitations came to submit stories for older kids to various anthologies, off I went.

* I submitted a story to a Christmas anthology with Share your Story and it was published in late 2018. The proceeds went to purchase bicycles for trainee teachers in Africa. The cover of Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas was created by Di Spediacci.

* Next Georgie Donaghey opened submissions for the second Creative Kids Tales Story Collection and I had two stories selected, to be illustrated by Ruth-Mary Smith.

*I saw an opportunity on line to submit stories to Storm Cloud Publishing and had one story chosen for Short Tales 5, titled Cycles.

*More recently I have had a story chosen for Michelle Worthington’s anthology  Spooktacular Stories: Thrilling Tales for Brave kids, to be distributed to kids in hospital and available elsewhere.

I did have several rejections and not all stories I sent were chosen but on I went.

As a freelance journalist I write for a number of regional magazines and in January this year I pitched a story idea to New England Living Magazine.They agreed and I drove up to Armidale to interview Kathy and Peter Creamer of Little Pink Dog Books. We chatted in the sun over lunch and I learnt a lot about their submission process and their motivation to help aspiring creatives.

The article and photos appeared in the magazine in The Autumn edition 2019.

I ventured into some new territory and wrote book reviews. The first was Caroline Magerl’s picture book Maya and Cat. I created a blog and posted it on Facebook sites. Then a fellow writer and duckie, Tabitha Page asked if anyone could review her latest book Forever Friends , so I did this happily She has just launched the book.

*Next stage was responding to requests for interviews from a number of newsletters. I responded to Georgie Donaghey’s appeal and appeared in the Emerging Author section of the Creative Kids Tales bulletin in June. I also filed answers and bio for Jackie Hosking’s Pass it On publication.

*I managed to get to two conferences this year,  the SCWBI one and later Creative Kids Tales Festival and I plucked up courage to send two stories  beforehand to Clare Halifax at Scholastic. We had a lovely chat about joeys and she gave me useful feedback.

*Then some surprises. I had an email from Romi Sharp (Just Write for Kids) asking if I would like to be part of her blog tour, Books on Tour. Of course I agreed and wrote a review of a Picture Book by Teena Raffa-Mulligan called When the Moon is a Smile.

*Then this week I had a call from Julie Ditrich asking me if I could be a role model for Books in Homes. I had been on the data base quite a few years ago but had fallen off, so I was re-instated. At the end of the month I am off to presentations at Denman Public School and Martindale school. Will blog about that!!!

In amongst all this activity I have been sending out PB submissions to many publishers and have had a few rejections and some have gone down the black silent hole.

But the big surprise was the offer of a contract from Little Pink Dog Books in April this year, a Picture book titled Buster Follows his nose. The long awaited Golden Ticket!! It will be illustrated by Jenny Hale and appear in 2022.

This is joyous news and worthy of breaking out the bottle of Prosecco with family and friends.

So the verk goes on.

I submit every 6 weeks to my magnificent SCWBI Critique Group and I try also to post on the 52 Week Picture Book Challenge, maybe just with a story idea.

I also submitted two stories to each of the publishers who opened their books this June and one of the stories titled The Dry, I have polished up with helpful suggestions and guidance for the indefatigable Susanne Gervay.

Meanwhile back at the ranch….the drought goes on and on. We had our first rain in two years in March….100mls which made the creek run and fired up the pastures. But nothing since, so we spend  a lot of time checking troughs , joiners, and floats as all the dams and waterholes are dry.

This week I have another story published in the New England Magazine, titled One Day Closer to Rain, about a neighbouring farmer, Cassandra Maclaren who set up a Facebook Page to offer support for all those in drought, all over the country. It has over 30,000 followers. I will use the payment for the story to travel to Sydney to attend the CBCA Xmas in July dinner…great fun.

Not sure if this EOFY statement will be enough for the bank manager who came yesterday to try and extend our drought relief package. I told him about my contract and off farm income and hope he can squeeze it into the spread sheet!