I’m glad I took notes because the excitement got to me after about 5 minutes and I clearly remember things like the morning tea but there are some fuzzy moments.

I’ll share the notes that make sense and continue puzzling over things like ‘She is forensic’!

First up we had the CYA Success Stories

Ben Long

Ben opened this segment with his charismatic style, juggling! He encouraged us to break tasks down into smaller challenges when we felt like we were juggling with all the balls in the air.

He chose to self-publish his first book and was glad he did as he learnt that self-belief, rather than external acknowledgement was important to him. He felt he learnt a lot about the publishing industry though self-publishing, especially self-promotion.

Now that he has a publisher, he feels that he has learnt so much more. Working with an editor has improved his writing and obviously having someone else take care of distribution is a dream.

He recommends writers join a writing group which improves our writing and helps others. Always keep practicing writing especially if you are writing rhyming picture books.

Remember that a writer needs patience, determination and optimism.

Elizabeth Kasmer

Liz was sick so her publisher Christina Schultz of UQ Press spoke on her behalf.

She spoke to us about Liz’s writing. Liz has written a hometown book which is easy for people to connect with as they recognise and identify with the problems.

Christina mentioned that the biggest challenge in becoming a professional writer is the volume of work you are required to produce.

She spoke of how Liz took advantage of every opportunity including school visits where she connected with her readership and garnered great ideas.

Emily Larkin

Emily was keen to tell us that picture books can be as complicated, deep and layered as other books. That they can be about anything and can be for readers of all ages.

She reminded us that the words and images work together to create meaning and that images can enhance the words meaning or contradict it.

She told us that CYA was valuable for networking, sharing ideas and your work with others and hearing of their experiences.

She emphasised the importance of researching your publishers before pitching.

Jo Sandhu

It was interesting to hear that Jo’s chapter book, started out as a picture book!

She feels the conference allows her to refocus on the things we may have heard before. She finds it so important to be a part of the community. It helps her to persist in moments of self-doubt and focus on the end goal of being published.

Jo took 12 months away from writing which enabled her to realise how important writing was for her.


Then the incredible Jacqueline Harvey Wow’d us with her knowledge and experience of writing Junior and Middle Grade Fiction.

After a bad start with a ‘monster’ teacher, Jacqueline moved to a new school with a clever and funny teacher. School became the best adventure of her life.

She has been influenced by the children she has taught and they have  provided her with plenty of material. She is inspired by the funny things children say. She is also inspired by travel.

Jacqueline told us to think about what’s obvious and write the opposite.

She plans her books by starting with the big ideas, characters, problems, surprises and the ending. Things may change as she begins to write however.

When writing a series she always remembers the key element of the book and to be true to the characters. When the characters behave out of character, it can be a sign that something is wrong.

She will often write a chapter and then read it aloud with each character read in their own voice. On school visits she will read her work aloud to the children and ask for their honest feedback. She has often put a choice of book covers up and asks them to choose which one she should use for her next book.

Jacqueline writes a book starting at the beginning, however if she gets stuck she will park that idea and move on with the book. Often the answer will just come to her as she is writing.

She tells us that she has learnt so much from working with an eitor. Now she watches out for repetition, pace and makes sure that she starts at the most exciting part of the story.

Jacqueline say ‘Turn off social media and write!’


Pamela sharing her knowledge over morning tea

This presentation was ollowed by another prolific writer, Pamela Rushby taking about writing for Education vs Trade

Pamela says one benefit of writing for Educational Publishers is the shelf life of the books are longer. They don’t re-release every 7 years like Disney does.

There is opportunity to write Fiction and Non-Fiction for all ages. There is a variety of requirements from short texts for literacy units to school readers.

Approach an Educational publisher and ask to be on the list to be included in new briefs sent out.

Keep a file of ideas. Network, network, network. Writers are generous at sharing information of opportunities.

She reminded us to be professional and low maintenance. The easier you make the publishers job the more likely you are to be published.

Pamela advised us to stop researching and to start writing!