CYA Later, Alligator Conference

That CYA bit up there, it stands for Children and Young Adult. It’s part of the Brisbane Writer’s Festival. I was there, had a great time. Check it out here http://www.cyaconference.com

I’d been invited as my new book had been part of their manuscript competition a couple of years ago. It didn’t do well in the competition. In fact, it did so badly that I asked for the title to be removed from the listings. But there was an up side. They sent me the judge’s score sheets.

The competition is based on the first thousand words of the manuscript. That sounds like a lot, but even a short novel will be over 50,000 words. That means that no matter how good it is in the main part of the novel, if it doesn’t catch the judge at first bite it is going nowhere.

I knew that I had a good story. The judge’s notes told me that I didn’t have a good beginning. So I fixed it. Worked it up a bit. Put some heat in it. Added an exploding helicopter or two. The result was that my teenage narrator changed from being an effervescent character to a simmering character. And with the opening of the book simmering away, I then had to carry the heat further into the story. The difference improved the whole novel to the point where it was picked up by a publisher.

And it was being published that brought about the invitation to take part in a couple of sessions at the CYA Later Alligator Conference. I was there with two other authors recently published, and who had come from the CYA competition. One was Dee White and her YA novel, Letters to Leonardo. The other was Kathryn Apel and her children’s picture book, This Is The Mud.

Gotta love a story with a happy ending.

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