Saturday, 23 June 2012

Guest blogger: Marjory Gardner, illustrator

Our guest blogger today is Marjory Gardner. Marjory talks about the benefits of taking in as much as you can when you go to a SCBWI conference.

I'm already looking forward to this year's SCBWI conference. The program looks really varied and interesting, and I like that there are concurrent sessions so I can choose the sessions I prefer. Having said that, sometimes making those choices will be difficult. 

At a previous conference, I chose to skip a session to be given by a visiting American YA author. I don't write YA fiction and the lure of the nearby shops and a bit of time to myself was too tempting to resist. However when I got back after an happy hour of window shopping everybody was abuzz about how wonderful Ellen Hopkins' presentation had been. I still regret missing it.

We illustrators are outnumbered by authors at the conference, but I'm on a personal campaign to get more illustrators to attend. I've already convinced one Victorian friend and colleague to come, and I'm on the hunt for more. I find the conferences (and I've been to all of the them) rewarding in so many ways.

I've always come home motivated and refreshed, and keener than ever to hang in there and keep doing what I love doing. I've made new friends as well as professional contacts, compared notes, learned so much from the presenters and from networking with colleagues and Publishers, had 'moments of clarity' during folio assessments, and been spurred on to be more professional and pro-active.

It's also been lovely to meet many yet-to-be-published authors/illustrators and encourage them in their quest. It's great to have met people like Sarah Davis, who at the first conference was right at the start of her career...and look at her now! 

The SCWBI 'family' has always been a very warm, welcoming and helpful group, and over the days of the conference it's great to see so many new books launched as well as ideas exchanged in the breaks between sessions, on morning walks, lunch and over dinner. I always come home with a notebook brimming with 'things to do and follow up', a suitcase bulging with books I've bought, and an optimistic attitude that good things will happen.

I'm also looking forward to the Illustrator's Portfolio Showcase. It's a great opportunity to see what everyone else is doing ...and let everyone else see what I'm doing too! This year I'll have a couple of new books just out, so it will be exciting to share them.

Thanks to Suzanne and Chris, and all the hard work done behind the scenes by the regional advisors and assistant regional advisors, the conference is always brilliantly planned, and goes seamlessly and smoothly. As a bonus, The Hughenden is such a gorgeous venue, the staff and facilities wonderful, and the food is fantastic. I'll see you there in June!

ABOUT ME: I'm a freelance illustrator living in Melbourne.
I've worked for over twenty years for trade and educational books, and for magazines. I also have a range of greeting cards.
I work in pencil, markers and ink, and am tentatively beginning to explore digital alternatives.
You can see more of my work at:

Guest blogger: Wendy Fitzgerald, author

Author, Wendy Fitzgerald is behind the scenes at this very moment filling the conference sample bag with lots of info and freebies from publishers, authors and others. Here's her guest post.

I am really looking forward to the SCBWI conference. If you haven’t been before, you are in for a treat. You can immerse yourself in lots of interesting people, discussions and ideas.

In your conference bag you’ll find a pile of treasures, one of which is a copy of my book, ‘Bollywood Dreams.’  I decided to publish Bollywood Dreams myself with the help of A & A Book Publishing.

To be honest I was scared to send my work to any ‘real or traditional’ publishers as I know how hard it is to get published and I am allergic to rejection.

But I was surprised and delighted at the positive reaction I got when Bollywood Dreams came out.
I was interviewed on SBS Hindi Radio, and on FM 99.3 and on TVS community television. I had an article in my local paper and I was reviewed very favourably in the newspaper ‘Indian Link’. Also, I was invited to be a judge at the Miss Bollywood Australia Beauty Pageant at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta.

I got a commended certificate in the Society of Women Writers Biennial Book Award and have been encouraged by the children’s literature community through the Children’s Book Council, the Society of Women Writers and, of course, SCBWI.

Because of this book, I was an extra in a Bollywood movie. The producer showed some interest and I even wrote a script. Mind you, the script hasn’t come to anything, but I’m glad I took the leap and I’m still out there having a go.

Who would have thought that all these things could happen from one book?

But I did make a few mistakes. One was that I had too many books printed. That is why I can be so generous and offer free copies for the conference bags. Hah!

So please enjoy your free copy of Bollywood Dreams and I hope you can make your own dreams come true as well.
Wendy Fitzgerald

Friday, 22 June 2012

Guest Blogger: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Teena Raffa-Mulligan, a West Australian authorbooked at the last minute to attend the conference and she's written a post about why she decided to come. Here it is:

I’m a West Australian children’s author who has figured out some unusual remedies for wrinkles, the fuel to launch an Aussie grandpa into outer space and a trick to help young elephants remember not to go with strangers.

Many of my short stories and poems for children and adults have appeared in magazines and anthologies and my eighth children’s book has just been released. It’s a picture book called Who Dresses God? which was written many years ago in response to a question from my then four-year-old daughter who now has children of her own. I’ve also recently had my first novel for adults accepted for publication as an e-book.

When my first picture book – a stranger danger story called You Don’t Know Me? A Cautionary Tale for Children - was released in 1981 it brought me five minutes of fame and introduced me to the joys of sharing my passion for writing with people of all ages.
I retired in 2010 after a long career in journalism to concentrate on my own writing projects.

 I am looking forward to attending the conference and being able to completely immerse myself in the world of children’s books. It will be a wonderful opportunity to meet others who share my passion and keep abreast of changes in the industry. Essentially I am seeing it as a concentrated dose of inspiration and I’m expecting to return home brimming with enthusiasm and fresh ideas.
Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Author to finally receive her Crystal Kite Award 2011

Because the SCBWI Australia/New Zealand conference is bi-annual and didn't occur last year, author Claire Saxby will finally receive her 2011 Crystal Kite Award for her picture book, There was an Old Sailor at this year's conference.

Congratulations again, Claire. Now you'll be able to celebrate twice! 
There Was an Old Sailor gives the old rhyme a jaunty nautical theme.

Guest blogger: Toni Brisland, childen's author

Today's guest blogger is children's author, Toni Brisland. Toni is on the 4th International Australia and New Zealand 2012 SCBWI Conference Committee looking after delegate Conference bags, and is active in the CBCA as Secretary of the Northern Sydney Sub-branch. 


Toni Brisland
People often ask me the difference between SCBWI and the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA). 

Both have annual membership fees and both are volunteer and not-for-profit organisations. There is a similarity between the two in mission statements and philosophies, composition of membership, awards, publications, support resources available to members and they both hold Conferences and Writing Festivals.

There is the obvious difference - one is an Australian organisation established in 1945 with State and Sub-branch Regions (CBCA) and the other is an international organisation established in 1971 with over 70 regional chapters worldwide and over 22,000 members (SCBWI). Their management structure is different and their method of operating is different.

However, the main difference for me is that the CBCA offers me the opportunity to connect to others in the Australian community who share a love of Young Australian’s Literature and are fascinated by it and who want to engage others in the same passion, whereas SCBWI allows me as a writer to connect to other writers and illustrators for networking support all over the world.

When I go to a SCBWI meeting or conference other attendees are mainly authors and illustrators and those aspiring to be. We talk about the industry and what we are doing in our professional lives.

When I go to a CBCA meeting in Sydney other attendees are teacher librarians, pubic librarians, editors, booksellers, authors, illustrators and parents. Publishers are interested in what we’re doing and a representative of all the major publishers are on my email distribution list. We talk about CBCA authors and illustrators involvement in schools and at libraries, author activities and launches and events, and writing festivals and workshops and courses for young Australians.

And, the CBCA totally supports SCBWI. In the SCWBI Conference bags on 29th June this year, delegates will find CBCA stickers, promotional material and probably an Application Form!

I’m looking forward to the SCBWI Conference and meeting other delegates and would like to take this opportunity to thank the many authors, illustrators and organisations that have donated material to be included in the Conference bags.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Guest Blogger: Katrina Germein on Taking Every Opportunity

Sometimes people ask about the benefits of joining SCBWI and the benefits of the conference as well. This is author, Katrina Germein's response.....  

Katrina Germein
To be honest, I'm not especially looking forward to this year’s conference.  I’m feeling a little panicked and wondering why I agreed to speak on a panel instead of swanning around with a notebook for the weekend. No one said I had to speak. I could have said no. I can only blame myself and as my 2012 self seems firmly against the idea of a panel debut I'm blaming my 2006 self instead.

In 2006 I promised, or possibly challenged, myself to take every opportunity available to me as a children’s writer. With my four year old twins starting kindy I was emerging from the haze of never-ending nappies, vomit and conjunctivitis. 

I had a plan to re-focus and write something publishable. It was six years (the age of my eldest son) since my last picture book had been published and I was receiving regular visits from that whiny inner voice. I can’t write anymore. The other books were a fluke. My writing is rubbish. I’ll never be published again. I knew that I had to stop the whining and take action. I had to start to take every opportunity. 

That year I was invited to a publisher’s Christmas party. I had been corresponding with Jane Covernton at Working Title Press about a submission for The Little Big Book Club’s reading pack. We had developed a relationship through the rejection letters Jane had been sending me and knew each other through email only. I was touched to be invited but, a Christmas party where I wouldn’t know anyone? I hadn’t even met the host in person. Could I take somebody? Would that be weird? What would I wear?  Who would I talk to? It was all sounding a bit too scary. Plus, it was years since I’d had a book published. I wasn’t even a real author anymore.  I considered skipping the party altogether but remembered I was supposed to be taking every opportunity.

Alone and friendless I arrived at the Christmas party. I stood at the gate clutching my bottle of champagne, took two steps forward and stopped. I didn’t know anybody. Not anyone. Jane spotted me. (I was probably easy to spot, standing stock still like a frozen lizard only a metre from the gate.) I was introduced to a few people and then I met a few more people and then a few more. 

I still felt like a fraud (these were real authors!) but from that party I began to form relationships with other kids’ writers. And guess what comforting things I learnt then? Other writers sometimes feel like frauds too. Other writers often doubt themselves too. Other writers have their work rejected too. 

What are the benefits of SCBWI? 

Getting together with likeminded people - sharing the frustrations and pleasures of writing for children. When you make even the smallest effort to be involved in the children’s writing community, the children’s writing community is quick to respond with friendship, support and humour.

And what are the other benefits of the conference? If you’re serious about a career as a children’s author it’s definitely worth taking every opportunity.

Post Script:  The text I was working on was Baby Gets Dressed. It was published for the trade nationally in 2008 and a free copy was given to every baby born in South Australia that year. It was re-printed again at the beginning of 2012.

From Katrina  ... see you at the conference!

Parking arrangements near the Hughenden Hotel

Thought this probably needed a post on its own - information for those wanting to park at the Conference. 
There is all day parking along Oxford Street (on both sides of Oxford Street – alongside Centennial parklands and on the other side of the Road where The Hughenden is located) from 7 p.m. on Friday night until Monday morning.  This is a minute or so around the corner.

On Queen Street there is generally 2 hour parking, which translate that from 5 p.m. on Friday there is all night parking until 10 am the next day)

On Lang Road across the road from The Hughenden there is all day and night parking.

In Centennial Parklands there is all day parking, but the Parklands closes at sunset. Please watch out as there a few areas with 3 hour parking restrictions – not many, but near the gates off Oxford Street – it’s otherwise all day and free.

Last resort is at Fox studios Entertainment quarter where there is a multi level car parking facility. If a delegate uses this, then I will organise a pick up and drop off to the parking carpark, as it is a few minutes drive. However just need to be advised.

The charges are available online – with weekend flat rates.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Previous winners of the Crystal Kite Awards

The Crystal Kite Awards (also known as Crystal Kite Members Choice Awards) are given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) each year to recognize great books from the seventy SCBWI regions around the world.

Along with the SCBWI Gold Kite Awards, the Crystal Kite Awards are chosen by other children’s book writers and illustrators. It makes these the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers.

Each SCBWI member votes for their favourite book from a nominated author in their region that was published in the previous calendar year.

In Australia, author, Glenda Millard won the inaugural Crystal Kite Award in 2010 with her wonderful, award-winning book A Small Free Kiss in the Dark.

Glenda Millard
Claire Saxby

And in 2011, author, Claire Saxby won the award with her rollicky, humourous picture-book, There Was an Old Sailor. (Illustrator: Cassandra Allen)