By guest blogger Karen Hendriks
Children’s author, lover of travel, coffee, and the sea.
On the KidlitVic2017 Children’s Author learning train there was anticipation and excitement and we were all ready to journey aboard.
Middle Grade Station
The welcome roused a happy chorus and the first stop was at the Middle Grade station. Did you know middle grade is subdivided into age groups? 5-6 years, 7-9 years and 10+ years. So, story develops from being heavily illustrated to a much deeper higher level of characterization. The priority is always and foremost your characters and story. The slightly younger readers like to read about slightly older children. So perhaps the upper level reader in this group is ten years old. Three keywords to remember include heart, smart and fart. Stories need to have a connection to the reader, be told skillfully and with a sense of fun.
Then we all chugged along to the Illustration Panel and those clever passengers alighted to a world of colour and design and passion. I sat in a little and one message was ‘Can you illustrate people in all different sorts of ways?’ The most successful illustrators do not just illustrate words. They bring layers of meaning too.
The next station was Picture Books full steam ahead. Wow! The one everyone thinks is the easiest yet the hardest to do. The play between the text and illustrations is what creates picture book magic. Please don’t patronize a child and do tell your story from a child’s point of view.
Does your story have a uniqueness and an emotional connection? Red flags for picture book authors are submitting manuscripts in fancy fonts and colours. Please check your spelling and grammar. Remember the most successful picture books have layers of meaning that play together with the words and pictures.
Young Adult Panel Station
Back onboard after lunch we headed to the Young Adult Panel station. A little birdie tweeted that adults enjoy these books too although it is listed as 13-15 years old age group. These stories are very narrative driven with a distinctive own voice. YA stories must be authentic.
Last Stop: Question Time Group Panel
The last stop before home was the Question Time Group Panel. It was a power line of power with all those industry editors and agents. Members of the audience had a chance to ask questions and receive feedback. I did like the question about celebrities writing picture books as they do have the door open to them. It was stated that they are in a different category to children’s authors and that they give an illustrator an opportunity. The fact not many questions were asked is a sign of a good conference.
Last but not least after the closing ceremony was the cocktail party to mingle and jingle around the room. The time flew and there just wasn’t enough time to see and do all. Aaah! But there is always next year. The hidden gold was finding others of the same flock and being with your own kind.
Karen Hendriks followed her dream and started writing children’s stories in May 2016. She has written many short stories for children and has had several stories published in eBooks. Her wish to become a writer began when a lecturer at university said she had a talent for writing stories.
As a university student, she assisted in the production of an Aboriginal big book ‘Gang-Man-Gang’ at a local Aboriginal primary school. The big book is still used today in local Illawarra primary schools. As a teacher, Karen’s favourite time of the day was sharing stories and teaching students to read.
Karen is presently working on several new stories and has started doing author visits in schools. She has a keen interest in travel and has a great love of the local seaside village where she lives. Karen’s writing companion is a little Moodle called Elmo who is a cross between a poodle and a Maltese Terrier. Elmo is cheeky and very lovable.
Karen can be found by the sea or in local coffee shops. She has a husband who is a ginger beer (engineer) and a daughter and son who make her world full of smiles.
You can find Karen on her author page on Facebook.
Previous posts on KidLitVic2017:
Be inspired and informed by Pamela Ueckerman as she shares on my blog her reflections on the KidLitVic2017 - Meet the Publishers Conference.
For more coverage and different perspectives:
From an organiser's perspective: The KidLitVic 2017- Meet the Publishers Conference Wrap-Up by Nicky Johnson
Tania McCartney gives her view of KidLit, along with what she is up too on her blog, Works-in-progress, KidLitVic and Crystal Kite!
Romi Sharp reflects on her experiences on her blog, KidLitVic2017 Reflections
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