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!