A Surprise at a Workshop

It never ceases to amaze me how things turn out the way they do, or simply happen because it’s meant to be.

Yesterday was no exception.

Due to a minor misadventure at home I nearly passed on attending the Storylines Writing festival Workshop.  But hubby insisted I go, and so I left him to deal with it and the visitors who turned up, while I text my friend from 12×12, Allie, and said I would meet her there. Now the Storylines Festival had two Adult workshops, one for Writers followed by one for Illustrators, and Allie was attending both.  These workshops were also followed with workshops for children aged from 6 years up in writing and illustrating picture books.  I love how encouraging children into using their creative imagination to show their flair at producing works that are just as good as some of our adult authors.  NZ Post for whom I work also encourages this, and for the past two years has published through Scholastics, a book for kids written by kids which is now an annual event.  I digress.

Getting back to the writing workshop, I was pleased to see Allie swoop in and sit at my table.  I am ever grateful to 12x12in12 for introducing me to her and I find attending such events much easier with a friend in tow.  Lorraine Orman who was taking the workshop is a retired librarian, and her first book Cross Tides published in 2004, won the NZ Post Best First Book Award.  Lorraine has written numerous books ranging from early readers such as” Fish Tale” through intermediate “Land of Promise” to teenagers including “Hideout.”  In the rushed two hours we covered such areas as types of genres i.e. mystery, horror, to environmental to dystopian.  From a table covered in books ranging from picture to novels we were asked to state what genre it was, why or what was our reason for the decision, was there a “slugline” – and if you don’t know what that was (I admit I had never heard that phrase used before myself) it’s often a tagline or phrase used under the books Title, and finally in one sentence what the book is about.  I found this a great exercise.  From Lorraine we learn that publishers were interested in such topics as creative/performing arts, sport, environmental and social issues, to be woven into fiction for children are on the increase.  Dystopian on the other hand may not have as long a life.  We must keep in mind that our books have often to pass through parents, teachers and librarian hands before reaching our young reader, so view your story carefully to appeal to a wide audience.  I enjoyed her brief coverage of age categories and would have liked to have heard a more in-depth session on this as knowing my readers age and topics, does flaw me at times. We also covered Elements of a Story and Lorraine stressed that a narrative hook must be present within the first two pages; action – emotion – excitement – conflict – fear – argument, whatever it is, must be present to catch the readers’ attention.  If the first two pages have an agent hooked the rest of the story will follow.  I was delighted to hear Lorraine’s agent is non-other than our NZ SCBWI leader Frances Plumpton.  Finally we covered very briefly in hand outs Todays Market and workshops both on-line and here in NZ to attend or as she put it “The Tough Stuff.”   Our hand outs also included definitions and exercises we could use at home to further help our writing style.  I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and was disappointed when Lorraine’s reply to Allie’s question of a further workshop was no.  I seriously would enjoy attending a couple more in-depth workshops if she would reconsider, and I for one will let her know.  Lorraine did finish the session with offering to assess for free, the first three pages of our manuscripts if we had them to her by the end of the week.  Lord I have to get my skates on and get writing, as I can’t let an opportunity like this pass.

The surprise? Oh yes, the surprise….. well, half way during the workshop in a five-minute break, a young bubbly woman popped over to our table to introduce herself, and would you believe it was Kim Mounsey.  Quiet Kim from 12x12in12 who had come up to Auckland especially for the workshop.  I didn’t realise there was another NZ’er in our online group so was gobsmacked, and she is happy to consider joining our small critique group and possibly come back up to Auckland to attend a SCBWI meeting, fingers crossed. We will keep in-touch.

Wonders will never cease…. And I am grateful once again to 12x12in12, thank you Julie!

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About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young.
This entry was posted in 12x12in12, Children's literature and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Surprise at a Workshop

  1. I agree, Diane. 12 x 12 has allowed me to connect with some amazing, supportive people. I’m trying to complete a pb regarding environmental issues. Knowing that publishers are interested in the subjects you named is good to know. “We must keep in mind that our books have often to pass through parents, teachers and librarian hands before reaching our young reader,” Very helpful reminder, Diane. Terrific post, lady!

    • Thankyou Pamela for your kind words. Way to go with your enironmental issue pb, will look forward to reading it….. go you! It’s always great when you hear that your are heading in the right direction. 🙂

  2. I am moving to NZ as I am so jealous of your groups. You sound like you ad a lovely day. Hope you have more of them.

  3. So glad that hubby pushed you to go. You seemed to have covered a tremendous amount in one two-hour workshop, wow! Super that you are getting to know some other writers locally, Diane. Online contacts are great, but face to face discussions add a whole new dimension.

    • So true, so true Joanna, re your last comment. It was obviously meant to be that I attend. Yes Lorraine kept constant vigial on her watch to ensure she was getting through all her material as another workshop was to start immediately after ours. She was interesting and even offered names of people who would assess our whole manuscripts at a cost of course. and answered many questions. I am wondering if she would attend one of our NZ SCBWI meetings as I would love to hear more. It was very enjoyable, Joanna.

      • Glad you went too! Sound like a good idea to invite Lorraine to one of your meetings. Had she organized the workshop or another organization? Our local library has been offering free classes on craft and I was recently lucky to stumble upon one on developing characters – it was great! Of course I signed up for the next – on Voice – immediately!

  4. Sounds like it was an excellent and very worthwhile workshop, and how wonderful that 12×12 brought you, Allie and Kim together! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear about any writing inspired by the experience!

    • It was wonderful Susanna. Gosh! I intend to send something for assessment and am thinking maybe the first pages of a novel I have written rather than a pb ms….. mmm decisions, decisions.

  5. Julie (rowen zoch) in answer to your question, the Storylines people organised the workshops. I will let Frances our NZ leader know how good it was and ask her to consider Lorraine as a speaker for any up comming meetings. Wow! lucky you managed to stumble on some writer workshops. You will have to let me know how they went Julie. Good luck!

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