Author Archives: Jenny Graham

About Jenny Graham

I love reading and writing. I love teaching reading and writing. I hope to provide helpful tips to encourage your child in his or her early years to learn reading and writing skills.

My best, worst feedback.

I am a writer. I love writing. Am I any good? I don’t know.

When I began writing I craved feedback. I wanted to find out whether my writing was good enough to go the next step or an enjoyable past time.

I attended a Writer’s Workshop in Port Hedland hoping no-one I knew attended.  The presenter, the lovely, talented Marlish Glorie, (author of Sea Dog Hotel and The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street), saw potential. It was the confidence I needed to continue my writing for others. I submitted my first Picture Book manuscript to Kids Book Review competition and waited.

The email came back, I wasn’t a winner but the feedback was good, better than I expected. The assessor even wrote LOVED in capital letters.

feedback

This was it, I am a writer, I am going to write. I wrote articles to magazines, wrote about electrical goods, submitted to any competition I could find, joined many online writing networks as a regular contributor, began a Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and Pinterest. I wrote about anything and everything, no focus, no goal I just wrote.

A year later I submitted again to Kids Book Review, if I received 38.5 out of 50 last time then surely with all the writing I had been doing I would have improved. I neglected to think about the manuscript I had sent in didn’t have the year of passion, commitment and thought placed into it like the previous year’s.

This is when my reality check came in. After again the waiting, the feedback was ready. I felt like I had received a big, fat, red cross. Of course, the assessors at Kids Book Review did not put a cross on the page, but the feedback was honest, accurate and the worst I had received.

cross

I thought long and hard. It was my wake up call.

I learnt to be a writer you need to be, focussed, passionate, committed, thick skinned, and proud.

I became focussed, I spent a lot of time deciding why I wanted to write and what I wanted to achieve from my writing. I only kept writing networks which met my goal and personality.

I stay committed to my writing goal, not allowing myself to be side-tracked by online writing opportunities.

I have become thick-skinned (well sort of) I found an editor who was honest and whom I respected. I continually research, learn and write to improve my skills.

I have pride in my work, knowing that whenever I publish anything, even the 140 characters on twitter, it is to the best of my current ability.

Am I a good writer? Who really knows.

Am I a passionate writer with a clear focus on my goal, ‘Developing children’s reading and writing skills, through stages not ages?’ Yes.

Have you ever received feedback which made you stop and think? Feel free to share below, the good the bad and the brutal.

 

 

 

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CBCA Statistics

Book Week is amongst us and there are schools around Australia enthralled with the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards books.

Last Friday while we were  congratulating the winners, some Australian authors, illustrators and publishers were planning their book for the next year’s awards.

After attending Jane Parsons’ presentation and writing the article, ‘Judging the Judges’ I was left with some fascinating statistics which I thought I would share.

The Books

CBCA                  Entries for 2015

Early Childhood             59

Picture Books             122

Younger Readers       128

Older Readers             77

Eve Pownall                  48

Not eligible                       2

Total entries                   434

Or if you prefer a pie chart

cbca 1

The Publishers

Publishers, authors and illustrators to enter the CBCA awards need to pay an  entry fee of $100 plus copies of the book for each of the judges. It has been good to see an increase in self-published books. Although I am not a self-published author, I love the idea that a self-published author or illustrator could be ‘found’ during the CBCA awards and sky-rocket their writing career during the CBCA awards process.

Allen & Unwin 15%

Five Mile Press 2%

Fremantle Press 2%

Hachette/Lothian 2%

Harper Collins/ A&R/ABC 5%

Little Hare/Hardie Grant Egmont 3%

National Institutions 1%

New Frontier 3%

Other Publishers 10%

Pan Macmillan 2%

Penguin Books Australia 14%

Random House Australia 11%

Scholastic/Omnibus/ Scholastic Press 7%

Self Published 14%

UQP 3%

Walker Books Australia/ Black Dog 9%

Figures are approximate

The four largest publishers, Allen & Unwin, Penguin Books Australia, Walker Books Australia and Random House Australia submitted nearly half (44.06%) of all entries.

Themes

I will leave it up to you, the reader, the writer, the book enthusiasts to analyse the main themes in each of the categories.

Older Readers – book themes

cbca older readers

Younger Readers – book themes

cbca younger readers

Early Childhood – book themes

CBCA early childhood

Picture Books – book themes

cbca picture book

The Children’s Book Council of Australia awards could not continue without the final two groups which I have to mention.

The Judges  

cbca judgesFiction Judges

Michele Huet (ACT)                     Suzanne Thomson (NT)

Cathie Tasker (NSW)                   Kevin Steinberger (QLD)

John Forster (SA)                           Tricia Scott (Tas)

Jane Parsons (Vic)                        Anne-Marie Strother (WA)

Eve Pownall Award Judges

Helen Adam (WA)                        Felicia Harris (WA)

Chloe Mauger (WA)

Awards Co-ordinators – Patricia Montgomery (WA) and Sue Wyche (WA)

Awards Chairs – Angela Briant (Tas) and Margo Hillel (Vic)

The Sponsors

Seventy years ago when CBCA awards began, the winners received a handshake for males and a camellia for females. Government funding supported the awards from 1966-1988. This changed to commercial sponsorship. At the end of 1995 CBCA set up an Awards Foundation in the aim of collecting $1 000 000 to support the Awards prizes.

Awards Foundation Benefactors

Scholastic Australia Pty Ltd            Allen &   Unwin Pty Ltd       Laurie Copping OAM (In memoriam)     Thyne Reid Trust No. 1

Major Donors

Australia Post       Jill Bruce     Sandy Campbell      Era Publications     Five Mile Press       Libby Gleeson AM

Bob Graham      Hachette Children’s Books Australia      Hardie Grant Egmont Pty Ltd     Harper Collins Publishers Aus

Ipswich District Teacher-Librarians’ Network       The James N Kirby Foundation      Kinross-Wolaroi School

Koala Books      Library Board of QLD    Angela Naomi      The Northern Territory Government      Parents and Boys at Sydney Grammar School, Edgecliff Prep        Penguin Books Australia      Random House Australia Pty Ltd        Emily Rodda (Jennifer Rowe)       Gillian Rubinstein       Maurice Saxby AM     SA Dpt of the Arts and Cultural Development    Cathie Tasker

University of QLD Press      Julie Vivas     Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd       Margaret Wild       Sue Williams

And the following in memoriam – Jean Chapman, Max Fatchen, Beryl Moncrieff Matthews, Jill Midolo,  Jan Ormerod, Eve Pownall, Marion E Robertson, Cassandra Weddell and Miss Maisie Williams, Garah.

Thanks to the Judges, the sponsors, the publishers, the authors, the illustrators and of course us readers who enjoy books in all shapes and sizes.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this year’s CBCA winners.

Thank you to Jane Parsons for allowing me to use your presentation statistics in my post, all other information directly from CBCA website.

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CBCA Judging the Judges.

 

I attended a presentation at my local library by Children’s Book Council of Australia judge, Jane Parsons.

I went with the intention of writing about the presentation. I had pen and notepad ready, however what I didn’t have was a focus. I could write about the shortlisted books, the process, the awards, the statistics, the themes, the illustrations, the list could go on.

Within minutes I was mesmerised by Jane’s descriptive language for each of the shortlisted books and the notables. I could hear the passion in her voice for not only books but her want for others to be enlightened by books.

Her language was so powerful that if she had reviewed, a Dog Grooming book I would have run out and bought it…..even though I don’t own a dog. Thanks to Jane I have many, many more books on my to-read pile.

I loved her idea that the notables should be released first to give them a ‘chance to shine’.

But who was this Jane Parsons and the other seven judges?

Why should authors, illustrators or publishers pay the $100 entry fee and provide copies of their book for the judging panel?

Why should Australian readers trust their judgement?

This is what interested me. I had listened to the introduction about Jane however was side-tracked with our mutual experience of working in a remote Indigenous community.

I sought answers, and I wasn’t surprised when I read the profiles in Reading Time (http://readingtime.com.au/judges-views/) of the seven other judges and their passion in books, which shined through.

Between the eight judges they had the following past and present experience: Teacher Librarian, Editor, Publisher, Eve Pownell Judge, Community Librarian, Deputy Principal, Artist, Writer, Reviewer, University Studies in Literacy, Children’s Literature and Librarianship, English Teacher, ESL Teacher, Education Officer, Book of the Year Judge, Book Seller, Aurelia’s Awards Judge and Creative Writing Teacher.

Noting the experience of the judging panel I was surprised that there weren’t more emerging writers or published authors in the audience. From my observations most were Primary School Teachers, although they too could have an interest in writing professionally.

Jane Parsons and the other members of the judging panel had read and written a report on 400 books and  read each judging panel member’s report.

After writing 400 reports and reading 2800 reports they attended a Judge’s Conference. There they discussed in length the top 30 books in each category and chose notables, short listed and winners.

Imagine as an emerging writer being able to tap into this knowledge. Hear what makes a notable book and see where the enthusiasm for each book lies.

Whether you are a teacher, parent, an emerging writer, illustrator or author,

if you could ask a CBCA judge a question, what would you ask them?

I look forward to hearing the winners announced on August 21st and wish all shortlisted authors, illustrators and publishers the best of luck.

My boys loved reading all the Early Childhood shortlisted books, we wonder who will win.

pig 1

scary night

There are more posts planned for Book Week and the CBCA winner, so please follow to keep updated.

.

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Celebrate the small steps.

Celebrate the small steps.

champagneThere are many quotes about celebrating the small steps.

There is no one giant step that does it, it’s a lot of little steps. (Peter A Cohen)

While working to attain your goal, don’t forget to pause and celebrate the little victories along the way. (Unknown)

Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching your goal. (Unknown)

 

My first celebration was the first time I saw my name in print. I popped the champagne cork, rang my Aunty in Queensland and ordered three copies (one of which my mum still displays on her fridge).

That’s Life Mum’s Club

that's life 2

Yep, I was published. Okay it was in a community magazine and yes it was only one sentence with one photo.

I wasn’t expecting my first step to be a published author visiting schools and libraries around Australia, after all I would have looked silly if I had a That’s Life magazine to show for my effort.

But this first step gave me a sense of belief in myself. Even though it was only an image and quote in a That’s Life magazine, there was someone out there who had read what I had written and liked it enough to be published.

My words, my picture, my name.

that's life 3

 

Seeing my words, my picture and my name, gave me the confidence to begin sharing my writing with others. Who knows where my writing would be if I hadn’t celebrated the first step and shared my success with others. It could still be locked away in notebooks, tucked under my bed.

Whatever your first success is, celebrate it, enjoy the fact that you are moving forward.

Your first success towards becoming a writer could be:

  • Adding the hashtag #onwriting to your tweets
  • Joining an online writers group
  • Putting pen to paper
  • Setting up a writing space
  • Buying a notebook
  • Waking up in the morning and telling yourself you are going to write
  • Allowing yourself to think about your writing dreams
  • Being published in a local paper or community magazine
  • Setting up a Facebook Page

“Success comes in a variety of sizes. Celebrate them all, no matter how small.” Jenny Graham

Feel free to share below your first success no matter how big or small and we will celebrate with you.

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