I was so impressed with how many amazing young writers entered my Mars Awakens Short Story competition!
It takes guts and commitment to write something and send it through, and I’m really proud of everyone who entered their work.
I had so many awesome takes on Martian moons and aliens, friendships and battles, magic and science. Congratulations to you all! Obviously, I had to pick one winner – and this was seriously hard, and required several re-reads of my favourite stories – but I managed it!
And the winner is …
Alice W. (11) for her clever and thought-provoking story ‘The Moons of Mars: Fear of Law, Dread of Anarchy’.
This story really got to me. It’s a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of tale of law-heavy Deimos and lawless Phobos, and I thought it was excellent. Clever reveals of the world and the (alien) characters, and a nifty circular storyline. Well done Alice! Your name will be gifted to a character in the Mars Awakens sequel, out May 2023.
Special mentions go to Amelia, Feiying, Grayson, Maïwenn, Matthew, Oliver, Reif and Troy for writing stories that I really loved as well. And well done again to everyone who submitted their work.
Keep writing all of you, the future of stories is safe in your hands 🙂
I’m so proud of this book, and I love that the judges connected with Eva and her race across a continent. There were so many brilliant Australian YA novels published in 2021, and I’m honoured – right into the heart of me – that Evacuation Road was selected as a Notable.
It took a while to sink in
Imposter syndrome is totally a thing. Sure, I was waiting excitedly for the Notables List to be published. But not for myself, no.
I wanted to see if my writing friends got selected.
Imagine my shock when I opened the download and my name jumped out at me. My first thought? I must have downloaded the list of entries. Of course. So I went back to the website.
And there was my cover staring out at me.
I didn’t trust what I was seeing until I’d verified it through someone else!
(And my writing buddies? They all got listed too. Best. Feeling. Ever!)
In four weeks my next book ‘Evacuation Road’ will be out in the world, and that calls for a super celebration countdown! So every week I’ll be bringing you some of the actual events that inspired some of the story.
Let’s start it off with a bang. One of the big mantras that Eva and my other characters learn to live by as they race for the last flight home, is “Stick together”.
It’s something I learned the hard way. How? Glad you asked …
Getting kidnapped is not recommended
I don’t think anybody is out there just aching to be kidnapped (though thinking about this has me coming up with some great story ideas!). And I was no different.
Every book has a set of milestones, and sending it to the printers is definitely a great (and mildly terrifying) one for me!
After all the months and years of writing and editing, the submissions, the rejections, the happy acceptance, the final edits and the typesets… now ‘Evacuation Road’ is becoming an actual book. One I can hold in my hands. I’m so excited!
Think end-of-the-world road trip. Think danger and humour, friendship and fear. All against a ticking clock.
Eva is far from home when everything goes wrong. And it only gets worse after her evacuation bus leaves her behind, stranded with classmates she barely knows. The chase is on. But South America is big, and the old rules are changing quickly.
My debut book’s first birthday month is almost over.
The two are actually linked, because ‘The Lost Stone of SkyCity’ was written during NaNoWriMo 2016. I had heaps of fun writing it, but I had no idea it would be the first of my MSs to be published.
I certainly never dreamed it would be shortlisted for an Aurealis Award (OMG!!!). Or that it would get such a positive response from readers. The past year has been full of new experiences for me, from first writers festivals to first COVID-19 cancellations, crash-courses in online presenting and then – just last week – first CBCA Children’s Book Week as an actual author!
I’ve been really lucky that my state (Western Australia) has finally turned having the world’s most isolated capital city into a real bonus for everyone: our kids are back at school and I was doing in-person presentations every day. I loved that I could meet so many awesome students, filled to overflowing with so much epic imagination and inspiration!
So, as a thank you to my TLSSC baby and a thumbs up to NaNo, here’s a short history and me and NaNoWriMo 🙂
Mate. There are no decent maps to show the path you’ll take to your debut and beyond!*
My middle-grade fantasy adventure ‘The Lost Stone of SkyCity’ came out this month. As my debut, it’s been a whirlwind of preparation and editing and excitement and <eeep> stressing about the unknowns. Which there were a lot of.
Still are, actually.
My book was originally scheduled for publishing Q1 2020, until one sunny day in February I got a phone call from my publisher. A spot had opened up for October. Could I get everything done in time?
To which I replied, ‘I have no idea what “everything” is, but yes.’
(Note to self: awesome on-the-spot thinking! This was totally the correct answer!)
I’m still learning at this game, but for what it’s worth here are five lessons I’ve learnt on my way to getting published:
*Note: this post probably isn’t a good map either!!! If you feel like you’re stuck in a forest, and my path sounds like I was up a mountain, relax … I think that’s how most of us feel! 🙂
Lesson 1. Find the writing process that works for you (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo rocks)
I didn’t hear the characteristic rattle of the loose roof iron above the kitchen, heralding a change in the wind. Hot easterly turning to a south-westerly that on a normal day would promise a drop in temperature. My brain didn’t register the growing smell of smoke, creeping up like an intruder.
The shrill clamour of the smoke alarm finally halted my study halfway through working out the molar weight of an unknown substance in question 34a. Fear buzzed as chemistry fled my brain. I made it halfway to silence the alarm before the power went out, plunging me into a dark that was simply too dark for the time of day it was. Continue reading →
When you’ve shimmied through as many windows as I have, you develop a strong appreciation for why doors were invented. This one’s a prime example. Clearly not designed for ease of entry.
To be honest, I’m kind of wedged.
My butt is stuck out in no-man’s-land, legs dangling Humpty-style. It’s starting to rain back there. If this wasn’t so serious it’d be funny. If it was funny I could laugh. If I laughed it might just help me wriggle all the way through.
I brace my arms against the chill inner wall, empty my lungs, and push. Eyes bulge with pressure, fabric rips, then I slither headfirst to the floor with a boom that resounds through the whole damn place. I hate floorboards.
As I groan to my feet lights are appearing out in the hallway, voices raised and alert. But there’s no way I’m heading back out that curse of a window.
No. I’m going to get what I came here for.
Because it’s fun (and seriously, who needs a better reason?) I’ve instigated a Fiction Friday post, where I pop up something short and (not always) sweet from my recent writing efforts.
This one is from the #scbwiwestchallenge, which encourages us SCBWI West Aussies to #createeveryday. The prompt for this piece was ‘window’.
Check out Instagram to see other creations of awesome from myself and SCBWI Aus West!