CYA Celebrations

2020 has not been without its blessings. One of my year’s highlights was the opportunity to attend the CYA conference online in July. (I know – it’s October. See? I was so inspired to keep writing I’ve barely lifted my head in three months.)

Being able to attend online meant I was able to hear from the array of amazing children’s writing and illustrating All Stars (this year’s theme). And I was present when my name was announced as winner of the Aspiring – Chapter Book – Older Readers section of the competition.

I love the CYA Competition. I’ve been entering this one for a number of years now. It’s a total honour to win, of course. I was beside myself happy and after the announcement I danced up and down the hallway with excitement for ten minutes before I could sit still again. There’s also something special about sharing the buzz with the other award winners.

But even in the years I haven’t won, I’ve still been happy that I entered. The competition is such an effective way to get feedback from different people. Sometimes the judges don’t understand my story. That’s useful information for me. Sometimes two judges see a piece of writing very differently. That’s also useful information. It reminds me that the enjoyment of other people’s stories is subjective.

The CYA Conference is a beautiful part of the Australian children’s writing and illustrating community. Tina and her team are encouragement personified. They understand the courage it takes to put our work out there, and they offer support and kindness all the way. I am full of gratitude to the organising team and to the competition judges.

As my prize I was lucky to receive a critique from Mary Verney, from Penguin Random House. Her insightful feedback gave me direction as I continued re-shaping my novel, as well as the encouragement and motivation needed to persist in finishing it. I am super grateful to Mary for her time and for sharing her wisdom.

And as 2020 reaches its final quarter, I’ll keep looking out for the opportunities this year brings as we do things differently.

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