Welcome to Katapult!
This is a new thingy for me - a monthly newsletter. It will evolve with time and have many changes I'm sure, until I find the structure that works for you and me. Some newsletters will be long and some will be short. Sub-headings will change and some will say the same, but I'm glad you're here to share this journey with me :)
So why call my newsletter ‘Katapult’?
Kat is obviously from my name.
Catapult is a fun word. As a verb it means to hurl or launch. I often find my mind hurling into stories and ideas (anywhere, anytime), or launching into crazy and spontaneous decisions (some I regret later!). What a way to live one’s life!
I pushed the two words together and ‘Katapult’ emerged. I love it!
A Book Joke?
What do you do if a librarian rolls her eyes at you?
Well, 2018 started nearly two months ago - where has that time gone? - and I have made a pledge to myself I’m going to write a monthly newsletter. I find snippets of news on my social media don’t quite give the full picture of what’s happening here at my desk.
Yes, I’ve missed a January newsletter, but everyone was on holidays including me so that doesn’t count. Right? No one would have poked their heads out of their Summer reading books and read it anyway. So let’s just merge January happenings into this February newsletter.
I’m not going to promise I’ll have my newsletters up and running on the first of every month. Too much pressure! But I’ll try to have it out during the first week of the month. Having said that, I’m already late with February, and March starts next week. Eek!
And I’m not apologising for any typos either. Just read over them and assume I was rushed, distracted, trying to do three things at once, I’m a terrible typer, or I just lost my mind. Any or all of these things could have been true at the time of that typo.
Let’s go back to December. My head was in a mess. There, I said it. A mess!
I had a pile of picture book manuscripts at 90% finished, I was waiting for a signed contract for two new picture books and I was getting anxious (I thought it was never going to come and that the publisher must have changed her mind - she’d just forgotten to tell me!), the end of the year was hurtling towards me at an alarming rate, Christmas was around the corner, and I started to consider getting an agent. Of course, then I got sick - flat on my back for two days!
I emailed a professional friend of mine to help me sort out my head so I could make a plan (maybe I should have enlisted a team of psychologists).
As a result, I spent December and January finishing some of my favourite manuscripts, sending them to her for editing, and then making a submission plan for 2018. I also sent another manuscript to a different professional editor.
I booked into the children’s literature Kidlitvic Conference in Melbourne held in May this year, and I joined The Duck Pond Facebook group to keep my motivation fresh and ongoing.
Santa came and went, the signed contract arrived (phew!), we rang in the new year, and relaxed and soaked up Summer holidays.
So January was relaxing and all about my husband and I entertaining our two children. We went to the Sydney Opera House to see the 78-Storey Treehouse on the stage. We also saw Operation Ouch at the Civic Theatre in Newcastle. Both were great shows!
Our CBCA Newcastle Sub-branch was on my mind too. I had been the president for nearly four years, and had spend the fifth year as the vice president. I had enjoyed being the VP as a lot of the workload have been taken off me. But did I still want to be an executive committee member?
I had also found out who was going to illustrate my first Big Sky Publishing (BSP) book called No Baths Week.
Drum roll …
I was very excited by this. Cheri is very talented and has illustrated several titles for BSP. I was then in communications with BSP to help set up Cheri’s illustration brief. What fun!
The rest of January involved school shoes, labelling uniforms, testing out lunch boxes and making sure new school drink bottles didn’t leak - ha!
And here we are in February.
I submitted one of the professionally edited manuscripts to a publisher. I found out recently it’s going to an acquisition meeting. YAY! Anxiety builds while I wait.
No Baths Week is moving along very quickly. We’ve been working on cover concepts, back cover blurbs, initial character concepts, and sales documents. This part of the process is extremely exciting!
I have also been working on a picture book manuscript based on my childhood memories at my grandmother’s house. It’s such a lovely story and includes some of my favourite sweet delights. Mmmm … jam drops and apple pie! It went to a professional editor yesterday. Fingers crossed.
Flights, workshops and a manuscript assessment have been booked for the Kidlitvic Conference in May.
We had our CBCA Newcastle Sub-branch AGM early February. So did I put my hand up for an executive position? No I didn’t. But I am happy to be a general committee member. It was time for Kirrili and I to hand over the sub-branch we started mid 2013. It’s in wonderful hands now (thanks Jodie and Liane) so I look forward to seeing it evolve with fresh blood and new ideas. I also have loads of undistracted time to write now so I can seal the deal on more publishing contracts this year.
I have also booked into a manuscript assessment at the NSW Writers Centre in March with Leonie Tyle. I’ll be working on that manuscript all of next week so it’s ready to submit to her a week beforehand.
I’m very honoured to be speaking at the upcoming CBCA NSW AGM on the 17th March. It’s a great opportunity to share my journey so far as a writer and share some sneak peeks of my upcoming books.
I'll be volunteering at the upcoming Newcastle Writers Festival. I'm going to the VIP program launch tomorrow. The Schools Program has been released and is selling out fast. We have some wonderful visitors coming to inspire primary school kids in the Hunter area.
I'll also be attending the CBCA NSW Branch Night of the Notables event at Dymocks, Sydney on the 27th February. This event celebrates the longlisted titles for the CBCA Book Week awards in August.
My first picture book, Dandelions, is still out and about. I love to hear stories of children still enjoying it and I continuously see dandelions everywhere.
No Baths Week, my second picture book is being illustrated as you read this. I can’t wait to see a storyboard and more sketches. It is scheduled to be released in October this year. I have booked in a venue and date for the launch party, and I’ve started to plan food and decorations. These October school holidays will see me doing some interesting story times in conjunction with Newcastle Region Libraries. More information soon.
Chasing Rainbows, my third picture book (second one with BSP) will be released early in 2019 so it will be illustrated mid this year.
And my fourth picture book, Up To Something, the second with EK Books and Kirrili Lonergan (same team as Dandelions) will be illustrated mid this year with a release date of May, 2019. We’re planning some exclusive pre-launch local activities but it’s too early to reveal anything yet.
Anything to Share?
I’d love to share a secret. I have major problems with passive voice. When working on my manuscripts, I often copy and paste the text into a website called Hemingway Editor to get rid of it.
I know a group of clever girls doing podcasts for lovers of kids' books. It's called One More Page. The second episode was released today. These podcasts are for anyone and everyone who loves books for kids. Very funny stuff!
Recent Book Purchase/s?
Bold Australian Girl by Jess Black and Fern Martins
Grace and Katie by Susanne Merritt and Liz Anelli
Perfect Petunias by Lynn Jenkins and Kirrili Lonergan
Betty the Yeti’s Disappointing Day by Emily S. Smith and Graham Davidson
Ella by Nicole Godwin and Demelsa Haughton
Ella Saw the Tree by Robert Vescio and Cheri Hughes
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I’d love to hear from you!
PS: So what do you do if a librarian rolls her eyes at you?
You roll them back of course! :)