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Why you should go to KidLitVic 2020



Are you thinking of going to KidLitVic? Let me tell you why you should.


KidLitVic #1 2017

In February 2017 I booked a ticket to go to KidLitVic after seeing a tweet about it. I remember feeling outrageous spending so much money on my writing ‘hobby’. That same day I visited my newborn grand niece Sofia in the hospital. She is now a cheeky three-year-old and my debut middle grade novel comes out in July.


I had always written in a way that was non-disruptive to everyone else in the family. In the gaps. With five kids and a job, the gaps were teensy. Working in a public library with a magnificent junior collection was like being a kid in a lolly shop. I read like my life depended on it. One day, a voice came to me and a book thread started to unravel and I grabbed the thread and let the story unspool.


Immersed at work in children's literature by day and writing my manuscript by might, I also became addicted to Jen Storer’s Q and Q’s on Girl and Duck. I remember her saying something about investing in yourself.

Lightbulb moment!

I booked a manuscript assessment with an agent, Jacinta diMase and sent off my opening chapter. The KidLitVic date seemed ages away…and then it wasn’t. It was the next day.


That first KidLitVic conference? I almost chickened out. The night before I was printing out my cv and my manuscript and other writing, as if getting ready for a job interview. Naturally the document formatting went awry. The printer kept printing random words in bold. What would a last-minute panic be without a computer glitches?


Adding to my distress was that my manuscript wasn’t finished. I didn’t even have a full draft. I felt unprofessional. As if I hadn’t done my homework. Other people on social media were mentioning business cards. What? I had nothing like that. Zilch! I decided just not to go. I emailed Jen Storer in a tizz and got a quick reply. Put on f***ing your lippy and go. She organised some of her “duckies” cult gang to meet me there.


I mean, I sashayed in fashionably late, but inside I was an absolute nervous wreck. The manuscript assessment? It was fast. I felt as though I had stepped into an alternative reality. There was this person opposite me talking about my story as if it was going to be a book! She seemed to understand it. Get it! Far from being chastised, I was encouraged to continue and to show it to her when I finished. And as for all that other stuff I’d battled the computer to print? Didn’t need it.


That day I met great people. People who loved children’s literature like me. I started out a nervous wreck and ended the day on cloud nine (the champagne helped.)

With the agent’s support, I applied for one of the ASA Copyright Fellowship Emerging Writer Mentorship Award, which I got. With the help of my mentor, Kate Ryan, I kept working on the book.


KidLitVic #2 2018

Picture books. I still want to write picture books. The pinnacle of children’s literature. Let's face it, picture book authors are the rockstars of the Children's Literature world. We all want to be that cool! At KidLitVic that year I had two picture book assessments. (One of the PBs was taken to acquisitions but got no further.) That second year I felt more confident. There were familiar faces. I was getting a sense of the industry. Who's who. The professionalism involved. The business side of things. Over drinks (my favourite part of the day!) I chatted with the agent who had assessed my manuscript the year before. She said, “Have I signed you yet?”

A week later she had!

By October of that year I had a book deal.

She's an amazing agent.


KidLitVic #3 2019

No assessments. No pressure. I just went there and absorbed everything. Tried to learn more about the business of publishing. Now I was more a part of the industry but slowly learning the labour of completing a book. I was in the middle of structural edits and still found talking to the publishers and editors intimidating. But it was fun. Lots of familiar faces and new faces.


And now here comes…

KidLitVic #4 2020

What will it offer me? Hopefully I will do a masterclass or two. Listen to the experts. Glean what I can. The learning curve of writing a book has been huge. My book will come out this July. I have a second book deal too.

If I could fold time like origami and tell my freaking out 2017 self that I would be here now she wouldn't believe it. I still sort of can't believe it. Even writing it down makes me feel a bit crazy.


It’s hard to put yourself out there with something so close to you and that you care about so much. But that’s what writing is. So if you want to be a writer, get used to it. Be brave.


And KidLitVic is a perfect way to start because everyone there is just bloody lovely! If you see me there come and say hi!

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