Posts Tagged ‘novel’

CYA Later, Alligator Conference

September 22, 2009

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

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.

Clem is Almost Covered

January 31, 2009

The publisher’s artist/book designer has given us some samples for the cover.


Nice work, I reckon. Now we are deciding which one to use. The publisher and I have been emailing everyone we know with teenagers in their family. It’s very low level market research, but it’s interesting that two covers get most of the votes. Next week the publisher will make the decision.

Want a look? The samples are here, for a little while. If the link doesn’t take you there, sorry about that, they are gone.

Clem Is Coming

October 15, 2008

Clem is the teenage narrator of the young adult novel that I have just contracted to a publisher.

Late one sleepless night when I was on holidays, January 2006, Clem walked into my mind and told me his story. OK, it wasn’t quite that simple. But the experience of the book building itself in my head while I lay there in the dark was not my normal expectation.

I got up in the morning, wrote a two page outline, and started typing. That old laptop ran hot for five days and I had 55,000 words and the story finished itself in a most unexpected manner. I had to get through the feeling that it was perfect as it was, that took a few months, then came the work of knocking the whole thing into shape.

A friend is an editor with teenage kids. She read it and pointed out some storyline inconsistencies. She also let me know how teenagers think these days, something that I have left behind. It was good to see the book improve as I followed her notes.

Another friend edits a national journal of childrens and young adult literature. I sent a copy. He liked it, reading it was a good experience, he thought it was worth publishing. He thought it needed work. He noted that it will have to find its way in some very hot competition in the YA world. I took his suggestions and the text cleared a little more.

At a writer’s festival mid 2007 I met an extraordinary woman named Hazel Edwards. Hazel is one of Australia’s most prolific authors for young people. Over 150 works published. Her first book is still in print after 29 years and is found on shelves everywhere.

Hazel read the manuscript overnight, filled it with notes, and we spent an hour talking the next day while I took more pages of notes. I did everything Hazel suggested and could see the wisdom of her comments as the book matured. Hazel mentored me in this work over the next couple of months, what a wonderful blessing from a very sharply focused teacher.

I started querying publishers. I entered a writers competition. There were a few rejections from publishers and I took each one as the stepping stone to the next query. Then along came the present invitation to send the manuscript. Then the offer of a contract.

I will continue the story in a future blog. Until then, Clem says “Hello world”.

Call for Full

August 14, 2008

Bit of writer’s jargon there. This morning I had a publisher request the full manuscript of my YA novel. Any writers out there will know that this is the big ask, and something that does not come often.

Is this the beginning of the end?