Sunday, October 11, 2020

How I thought it would be vs. How it really was ...

Recently I have been looking back on when I got started and thinking about what I thought it would be like. And thinking about the reality now I am over a dozen books in. My past beliefs and current understanding are not the highly overlapping circles of a venn diagram. This is my experience - results may vary across different authors.

My first book Clever Moo (illustrated by Malcolm Evans and published by Scholastic) came out in 2006. So, what did I imagine would happen?

1) My first published book would fling open doors to publication of further work

2) People out in the world (also known as the general public) would come to know my name

3) My book published here in New Zealand would also get picked up overseas.

4) I had written a book that everyone would want to buy

5) I was on my way

Ahhh, how fresh faced and innocent I was ... And what do I know now I am 13+ books in, in 2020?

1) Each book must cut the mustard and stand on its own merits (which is as it should be really). I have been more rejected than accepted if I consider all the work I have written, and submitted. However I do acknowledge that the door that has been opened is the one where publishers do know who I am and they know that the bookie community knows me too which is an advantage. It helps that I have a history and I have done what I can to make it a good history and I am still hard at work doing what I can to keep it growing. 

2) Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha - lol - gasp - no. This is an uphill journey, for which I have not yet found the right crampons. There is a distant peak, which may or may not be a mirage, that I am aiming for. Who knows if I will ever reach it ...

3) It is not the norm to have your book picked up overseas and if it does happen it does not always mean instant riches (or gradual riches either). 

4) I am still praying I will someday write this book. Tis the holy grail all authors yearn for ... Please note that even if it does happen, 'bestseller' status does not automatically confer riches, or any kind of notoriety or longevity.

5) I wasn't 'on my way' in terms of fame and fortune, but I guess I was on my way in terms of having a writing career. The clash of reality vs expectations has resulted in some disappointments but I am still holding on like a very determined limpet. Maybe those things aren't unrelated.

Friday, October 2, 2020

The 4.45pm news from the desk of Melinda Szymanik ...

Yay!!! Finally an occasion when judginess is desirable 😃 accompanied by glorious access to a mountain of the best local kidlit. Yes folks, it's time to put your hat in the ring to be a judge for the 2021 NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. The call has gone out and applications close 5pm Friday 30 October. You can check out the application details HERE.

It's been a busy old time over the last fortnight, what with giving a workshop on writing children's picture books to an adult audience at Selwyn Community Education and then running a week long creative writing camp for children on the north shore. It was especially challenging last Tuesday when the harbour bridge was closed due to high winds (first time ever in the history of the bridge!!) and my 30 minute drive turned into a two hour long one as all the bridge commuters joined me on my usual route. I was super lucky that my teacher sister had agreed to help out for the day as I ended up being late and she stepped in and got the class started - thanks Halina, you were a life saver. And I have discovered that driving long distances in first gear is very boring. Oh for some audio books stashed in the car - I will have to invest in some.

There are just a few events I am involved in over the rest of this month and what remains of the year is looking pretty quiet. I have a few writing projects I am noodling away on, and I have some planning to do for next year. This all feels rather nice. Despite the fact that covid has put paid to around half the gigs I had lined up for 2020, working from home is my ultimate happy place as I get to focus on my core practice - writing new books.

Last week I had an email from the publisher with final proofs for one of the picture books coming out next year. Its heading off to the printers and I am thrilled with how it all looks. It is gorgeous. Here is the front cover art by illustrator Malene Laugesen.

It is called Moon and Sun, and is due to be released by Upstart Press in March 2021. I can't wait to have it in my hands and show you how wonderful it looks inside. There have been a few delays with this title, partly covid based, and I am so happy it is now on its way.

Finally I hope you are all busy polishing your manuscripts for the Storylines manuscript awards - Joy Cowley for picture books, and the Tom Fitzgibbon for junior fiction - submissions close October 31st. The Tessa Duder Award for YA fiction is biennial and will be open to submissions next year. With Scholastic currently closed to regular submissions, don't miss this great opportunity to have your story read by them. Good luck peoples!!