Ep 324 Meet Kate Simpson, author of ‘Anzac Girl: The war diaries of Alice Ross-King’.

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In Episode 324 of So You Want To Be A Writer: Meet Kate Simpson, author of Anzac Girl: The war diaries of Alice Ross-King. Discover how to stay connected and learn while you're at home and the joy of artistic collaboration. You'll hear industry insider tips for writing non-fiction for kids. Plus, there are 3 copies of The Love That Remains by AWC alumna Susan Francis to give away.

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Show Notes

How to learn and stay connected from home

The joy of artistic collaboration

Industry Insider: Writing nonfiction for kids

Presenting the HUGE Your Kid’s Next Read #30BooksIn30Days GIVEAWAY

Writer in Residence

Kate Simpson

Kate Simpson is a picture book author, book worm and podcast host. Kate's debut picture book, Finding Granny, was shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2019 while her second picture book, Dear Grandpa, is a CBCA Notable Book. Kate's latest book, Anzac Girl: The War Diaries of Alice Ross-King is in bookshops now.

As well as being an author, Kate is also one third of the children's book podcast One More Page, which is a monthly foray into all things kids' books. One More Page features guest interviews, book reviews and giveaways, as well as a kid-centric segment called Kids Capers. In 2018, it was a finalist in the Best Newcomer category of the Australian Podcast Awards.

Follow Kate Simpson on Twitter

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(If you click the link above and then purchase from Booktopia, we get a small commission. This amount is donated to Doggie Rescue to support their valuable work with unwanted and abandoned dogs.)

Competition

WIN: ‘The Love that Remains' by Susan Francis

This podcast is brought to you by the Australian Writers' Centre

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Interview Transcript

Allison

Kate Simpson is an Australian picture book author and co-host of the One More Page podcast. Kate's debut picture book, Finding Granny, was shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2019, while her second picture book, Dear Grandpa, is a CBCA Notable Book this year. Kate's latest book, Anzac Girl: The war diaries of Alice Ross-King is in bookshops right now. Welcome to the program, Kate.

Kate

Thank you so much for having me on.

Allison

All right, now let's wind back a few years here and maybe you would like to tell us how your first picture book, Finding Granny, came to be published.

Kate

Yeah. Okay. So I started writing picture books after I had my own kids. And I had taken some time off for maternity leave and then I started working part-time. So I had a little bit… I felt like I had a bit of brain space free. You know, only working part time, I wasn't as challenged in my job as I had been at different times. And sometimes having babies is kind of intense, but also kind of mind numbing. Like really challenging and also really soporific. So it's this weird balance.

And I just wanted to do something different, something for me. So I sort of stumbled across writing picture books almost by accident. Because I'd heard that creativity was good for the soul, but I did not feel at all artistic in a visual sense. So I was like, all right, let's give writing a go.

It took a couple of years, I guess, of honing my craft. I joined a writer's group, I entered a few competitions, just worked through all of that. And I was lucky enough to get my break at the New South Wales Writers Centre Kids and YA Festival, which they hold every couple of years, and they had a live pitch panel. And I have never had a problem with public speaking. I'm quite happy to stand up in front of a room of people and just gab away. But I thought I was going to fall through the floor. It was a completely… I have never felt that way about speaking in front of a group before. I was physically shaking. So I was like, oh my god, what am I doing up here?

But I was lucky enough to win that pitching competition. And one of the judges on the panel, there were three judges, but one who I thought the publisher was probably the best fit for that manuscript, so I chucked her a quick email and I said, oh, would you be at all interested? You were the judge, I won this pitching competition, would you like to see the whole manuscript?

And she said to me, oh, look, I'm really busy right now. And she gave me a date. I think she said August or something. You know, I'll be less busy at this particular time, send it through then.

And I did and she picked it up. Which was amazing.

Allison

Okay. So I'm just going to wind you back slightly here.

Kate

Yeah.

Allison

How long ago… So how old are your kids, for starters?

Kate

They are eight and six.

Allison

All right, so about eight years ago you first started to think, maybe I'll do something creative?

Kate

Yeah, probably about seven years ago. I think Emma was growing up a little bit and I thought I'd give it a crack.

Allison

And so how many years ago was the Finding Granny pitching competition?

Kate

Oh, gosh, you're stretching my brain now.

Allison

I know. I like to make things as difficult as possible for people I talk to.

Kate

Yeah. So it came out in 2018. So I'm thinking… It must have been 2016 or 2017. Probably 2016, because they do it every second year.

Allison

Okay.

Kate

So it would have been 2016.

Allison

And tell us, for people who've never done anything like that before, how does a live pitching competition work? What do you have to do?

Kate

So you've got a time limit, usually sort of 30 seconds, 60 seconds. And you have to provide the elevator pitch that is going to sell your book to a panel of a few people. In this case, and it's often the way in the things I've been in, not everybody gets a crack, but you'll put your name or your business card or whatever into a hat, they'll pull your name out, and you have to stand up in front of a room full of people and a panel of judges and you've just got a very short amount of time to get your story out there.

Allison

So when you were putting together that… Well, what was it? Can you tell us what your pitch was? Have you got a vague memory of what that pitch was?

Kate

I knew you were going to ask me that!

Allison

You know! Stretching the memory.

Kate

I have no idea. You really are stretching the memory.

So I think I sort of… So the picture book is not rhyming, but it has a certain rhythm to it. So it starts out: “Edie's granny is a playtime granny, a bedtime, story time, pantomime granny, an I'm not afraid of some slime granny.” So I sort of riffed on that a little bit to provide the setting for the book. And then launched into the pitch, which essentially is that Edie's granny has a stroke, and she has to rediscover, they have to rebuild their relationship, because they can't do the things that they used to do.

And then I put in some stuff very briefly, some facts about who this might be relevant to. So the number of people having strokes each year and the number of families affected and that sort of thing, to try to set the market up there.

Allison

Wow. So you managed to get all of that into 60 seconds?

Kate

I think, yeah, I think it was about 60 seconds.

Allison

That's very impressive, Kate. Well done.

So was Finding Granny the first… You said you'd started working on things. And was it the first picture book that you ever wrote that actually became your first published one?

Kate

No. So the first picture book I ever wrote is still in my bottom drawer. My partner still thinks it's great and keeps pushing me to send it out there. But I have sent it out a little bit. In its original form, like most people's first efforts, it wasn't awesome. Although, to be fair to me, I feel like given that it was the first time, it wasn't terrible either, you know! It was okay. And as I got better and joined writing groups and did courses and those sorts of things, I was able to work on it and hone it. I mean, most people's first drafts are pretty bad.

I think I did send an early draft into a competition thinking it was pretty amazing. But yeah, it's sort of grown and developed. But I think that one's going to stay a bottom drawer manuscript, to be honest.

And I don't know how many I'd written. I probably had written a dozen or more by the time I came to Finding Granny.

Allison

Why did you choose picture books in the first place? Out of all of the things that you could have… You said it was basically like you'd read somewhere that creativity was good for the soul. Why did you choose picture books? Why pick that short form? Why not go, I'm going to launch into writing a novel of some kind? Why was it that that you were drawn to?

Kate

I think partly because I had very young children of my own at the time, so I was reading a lot of picture books, and I loved them. It was something that I'd forgotten that I loved. And I thought, I guess it just seemed like an easier place to start than a fully-fledged novel.

Also, at the time, I saw… Because I was doing some googling and having a look around, I did see an online competition right around the time when I was hunting about for a thing to do, an online unpublished picture book manuscript competition which I think was run through Kids Book Review blog. They don't do that competition anymore, but they used to.

So that was something tangible that I could do right now. Okay, let's put this together for that competition. And then I just loved it. Once I started and tried it, I had so much fun with it that it didn't occur to me to drop it.

Allison

So now that you've had three published, and you've got a pretty good strike rate there, you've been shortlisted for your first book, you're longlisted in the CBCA notables, you're obviously doing something right somewhere. What do you think most writers get wrong when they start out with picture books? Where do you think they go wrong?

Kate

I think there are a few things. One is not reading any modern picture books. I think that would be a big one. And I saw a post for World Book Day – was it World Book Day that they have around this time?

Allison

There's a few.

Kate

Just the other day. Yeah. Just the other day, with somebody on a news site complaining about picture books these days. And the examples that this person used, I'm like, have you read five picture books? You know, there are lots of picture books out there these days. Because she was being rather critical saying, oh, back in my day they were a lot better. Yeah, I know. And she'd read The Gruffalo. The Gruffalo was her one great example of a modern picture book. And even there it's probably a good few years old now, I'd say, The Gruffalo.

Allison

Wasn't there a 20th anniversary recently? Yeah. I think so.

Kate

So I think reading current picture books is really important. I think another thing that people don't understand, or that I didn't understand or know early on, is that picture books have a structure. They come in a set number of pages. Publishers can't just publish a picture book of how ever many pages they like. You can publish 24 pages or you can publish 32 pages. Very occasionally, you might publish 48 pages.

But really, you need to stick with the conventions. If you go and say, I'm a genius, and my book breaks all the conventions, they're going to say, thanks. See you later.

So you need to know what the rules are. People often write long. A picture book these days… And look, I mean, I say this, but my picture book Anzac Girl is a couple of thousand words. But for most picture books these days, you're looking at a maximum of 400 words. So you need to know these things, these expectations. And I think that that's the tricky part.

Allison

Understanding what you don't know before you start?

Kate

Yeah, that's right. You know, people think that anybody can write a picture book. But there are… And look, fair enough, anybody can these days, there's self-publishing. But if you want to get it traditionally published, you need to understand the framework that you're working in.

Allison

All right, so when you came to actually getting Finding Granny published, was there anything about that process of publishing for the first time that really surprised you?

Kate

Um… I don't think there was anything truly shocking.

Allison

Right.

Kate

I had spent a fair bit of time trying to educate myself by that stage. Certainly I found the duration, the time it took to get to publication longish. Although, to be fair, it was not at all long in the scheme of things. But you know, you always want it to be out quicker than it ever is. But I had been told to expect that. So most of the things that I think can be traps for young players were sort of expected.

Right around the time that that got picked up, actually the Australian Writers' Centre released an online course that was – I can't remember what it's called – Publishing Essentials or something that explains a lot of those processes. So I did that as soon as it came out, which was really helpful to, you know… It's not legal advice or anything like that, but it just explains to you what the terminology is that they're going to be using in the contracts and how they work and what you can generally expect. So that was really good.

Allison

Yeah, no, it's a good one.

All right, so let's talk about your third book, because we're up to Anzac Girl, which is out in the shops. And this one is a very personal project. Can you tell us about it?

Kate

Yeah. So this is actually the story of my great-grandmother, my mother's grandmother, who nursed during World War I, initially in Cairo and then on the Western Front. And actually became a very decorated nurse. She went on in World War II to be the, I think, the Assistant Controller for the medical services in Victoria. And she had a rank of Major. So she was quite an amazing lady. And she wrote diaries for the four years that she was in World War I. And each family member had a copy of a transcript of those diaries. So mum had those diaries in her bottom drawer for a long time.

And so I've basically taken her diaries, extracts from her diaries, and a sort of semi-fictionalised narrative, but fairly factual, but just kind of creatively told, and wound that in with the diary entries to create a narrative nonfiction picture book for probably seven even up to twelve year olds, I'd say.

Allison

So I read the book. And one of the things I thought when I got to the end of the book was, this is an enormous story to put in picture book form. And you're saying you've got four years' worth of diaries there. What was the process of writing this book? And condensing such an enormous story into a picture book?

Kate

Yeah, it took a long time. I… So the full transcripts of the diaries are actually also on the Australian War Memorial's website. Mum had lost a few pages of hers. So I spent long nights reading through those diaries over and over and over again. And when I found a section that I thought was interesting, and a quote that I thought was interesting, I copied those over into a Word document and sort of arranged them in chronological order. And then sort of sat down to try to pick out what elements of that were going to go into the story. Because, as you say, four years, there was a lot of stuff that happened over that time period.

And some stuff that actually was not that suitable for child readers. So there were some quite shocking events that she talks about in those diaries from time to time. Such as, there was a whole hospital tent, ward, you know, tent ward, full of German prisoners that somehow got forgotten for a period of some days. And she was walking through one day and heard a noise coming out of a tent that she didn't really realise was being occupied, went inside and found that they had had no food or water for a few days, and that nobody had tended to them. And they ended up, they needed to get them out as quickly as possible, so the doctors all come in and they do all the operations and amputations without any chloroform. So she was quite shaken up by that event. And you know, it was, for me it was one of the most standout events. But you just can't really put that into a book for that age group.

So it was about finding the things that were significant, finding the things that wove together to tell a story with a story arc, and yes, sometimes I had to make sacrifices. Even within a small timeframe, I tried to keep my quotes chronological, the diary entries chronological. So sometimes, if I wanted to talk about the romance element, but I had to pick a quote from a time that fell after this event that's on page two, and before this event that's on page five, and find something that sat into the middle. So there was a lot of cutting and pasting and moving around and figuring all of that out.

Allison

So even while you're doing this, and it's taking you quite a long time, and you've got masses and masses of stuff and things you've got to leave out, did you ever at any stage think, maybe this needs to be a 60,000-word middle grade novel?

Kate

You know, it never even occurred to me to write it as…

Allison

Really?

Kate

No, it didn't. Partly I think because I'm just so focused on picture books. But also I guess I don't read a lot of nonfiction middle grade. I'm not aware of the market or sure of the market. And I guess I could have gone out and figured it out. But that would also have required filling in a lot more gaps than I did, and I really wanted to stay as close as possible to the source material. To turn that into a really novelised format, I'd really have had to take some liberties with that. And really get into her head. I wanted…

So the diary entries are the window into her mind. And I'm able to tell that story, put the narrative in a sense that doesn't have to put words into her mouth because the diary entries are already there. So I don't think I would have wanted to fictionalise it to the extent that I think I would have needed to for a middle grade novelised version.

Allison

So was the book contracted? Or is this something that you could potentially have put all of this work into and then had people go, yeah, nah, not really for us, you know?

Kate

Yes, absolutely. It wasn't contracted.

Allison

Wow.

Kate

I was just working away, plodding away. But it was a labour of love, as well. And it did occur to me, at that time, I've never been particularly interested in going down the self-publishing path, because I don't have illustrating skills, I don't have design skills. It's much easier for me to get a publisher to do all of that.

But it did occur to me that if I could not get it published, that I might try to do some form of self-publishing, because it had become such a personal passion project. Whereas my other manuscripts, if they end up in the bottom drawer, they end up in the bottom drawer. This one, I really wanted it to see the light of day.

Allison

All right, well, speaking of illustrations, they are quite extraordinary. The way that the historical stuff is woven in with illustration and various other things, it's really very beautiful. So how did illustrator Jess Racklyeft come on board? What was the… How did they choose Jess for the project?

Kate

Yeah, so I have been published with two of my books with Allen & Unwin and they are quite collaborative with the author, in my experience, in terms of they were interested to know if I had any preferred illustrators. I'm not artistic at all, so I tend to enjoy just passing that completely on to the publisher. So they had a few different ideas. Some of whom, without naming names, are extremely busy and successful Australian children's authors, whose names would jump right out at you. I think they had two of those who unfortunately did not have the time to do it.

But when they suggested Jess, I was so excited about it. Because I'd seen Jess's work. And the publisher was so excited about it too, and her enthusiasm was so infectious. She hadn't worked with Jess before, but she was telling me how excited she was and she really felt that this was an up and coming illustrator who was going to make it really big with her illustration work. And Jess has a mountain of books out now. She must be such a busy lady, because she has so much work. And I think a lot of people recognise the real talent that she is.

So the publisher asked me how I would feel. And I was super excited. And I crossed my fingers, and luckily Jess said yes, which was fabulous.

Allison

So she's used a lot of historical, there's historical imagery in here, there's photos, there's bits and pieces. Was that from your family collection? Or is that from a whole range of different places?

Kate

It's from a whole range of places. Some of them are my family's photos. Allen & Unwin had published an adult nonfiction book that my great-grandmother starred in, as well. It was called Anzac Girls, plural.

Allison

Oh yeah!

Kate

Actually, no, it was called The Other Anzacs, originally, when it was originally published. And then they turned it into an ABC mini-series called Anzac Girls. And then they republished it with the cover picture from the mini-series and rebranded it and whatever. And they had a lot of the old family photos scanned and digitised. So I asked them if I could grab some copies of those, because unfortunately the originals had not come back to the family after the publication of that book, which was a bit sad.

Allison

Oh, that is sad!

Kate

It was sad. But they were able to dig out the scanned versions that they had, which Jess used in the book. And then also, one of the things I love is that she used some of her own family's photos. So I love that both of our families are kind of woven into this book. I think it was her perhaps her great-grandfather. And then she got some from other sources, like the War Memorial, the State Library of Victoria, and things like that.

Allison

Sensational. All right. Switching gears. Let's talk about One More Page, which is your podcast that you co-host. How long have you been doing that? And how and why did that start?

Kate

So we started doing that at the start of 2018. So we've had just over two years of doing One More Page.

Allison

And who's we? Who are your co-hosts with that?

Kate

So that's Liz Ledden, who's another picture book author, and Nat Amoore, who's a middle grade author and book lover. So it's not actually… We don't call it a podcast for writers. We say that it's a podcast for lovers of kids' books. We're talking about kids' books. We interview writers, but not always about the craft of writing. We want to be something that kids could listen to or teacher-librarians, parents. But we do get quite a lot of writers and illustrators in our audience, because obviously they're lovers of kids' books as well.

Allison

Yeah, for sure. How important has it been for helping to spread the word about your own books, do you think?

Kate

I think it has been important. I mean, that was sort of the driver for starting it. So around the time that I got my first book contract, I also needed to go back to work fulltime, for personal and financial reasons. And that had not been on the plan. It came about quite suddenly, that I needed to return to work. Or return to work fulltime.

And I suddenly realised, gosh, I'm not going to have the time that I wanted to do school visits, or promote this book in person. How can I get it out there? And I listened to your podcast and a few other writing podcasts and I thought, that's the way that I can reach people without having to be available during the day and that sort of thing.

And I do think it's been important in spreading the word. With these sorts of things, it's always very difficult to know. People ask me that, and when it's authors asking that, I often say, look, don't do it just because it's gonna spread the word. Do it because you like doing a podcast, because otherwise it's a hell of a lot of work.

Allison

It's a lot of work! I was going to say, it's a huge amount of work.

Kate

And it's difficult to put a, you know, how many books have I sold from it? I can't put a number on that! I genuinely don't know. But it is great to have, not only to have the podcast, but then to have a reason to put things on social media. You want to be able to talk about stuff, and this is my stuff. This is content.

And also it's a great way to meet other people who are in publishing, which I think you can't discount that in the bigger scheme of… It's not exactly promotion, but just growing the network of people that you know is always going to help.

Allison

Networking, yep.

Kate

So we're able to knock on the doors of authors and illustrators who we admire, but also publishers, agents. And we have a reason to go to them and say, hi, would you be interested in coming on the show? Whereas otherwise, I'm not going to knock on their door and say, hi, I'm Kate, you wanna have a chat? But in this context, I actually can, which is wonderful.

Allison

Yeah. So has there been, like, as far as that goes, because it is a time commitment, like it's one of those things where you hear the one hour a month or whatever that you put into it, but there's an enormous amount of stuff that goes on behind the scenes with that. So are there ever times where you think, oh, what am I doing? Like, really?

Kate

Frequently.

Allison

Haha. Oh, it's not just me then!

Kate

No. Look, we've actually cut back this year. We used to have a fortnightly, for the first two years we had a fortnightly podcast, and this year we're doing it monthly. Just because the time commitment had gotten to the point where it was too much for all of us. We're each starting to get published now and just general life commitments were too much for the amount of time that it was taking us.

Because we do have some support. The first year we did practically everything ourselves, except a friend of Nat's does the art, which is totally amazing. Big shout out to Marianne Khoo, who does all of our stuff, which is awesome.

Allison

Which is great. And the art is great. And it's very, like that branding is sensational, because you do need that. It's one of those things that you can overlook, but you do need it as far as something fresh to put on social media all the time.

Kate

Yeah. Absolutely. So yeah, look, the time commitment was just getting too much which is why we've cut back this year. And from last year, we also got a volunteer sound engineer to help with the editing. So he, to be honest, Nat organised it, so I'm not quite sure, but I think he's recently graduated and needed some stuff to put on his CV and he's trying to break into the industry. So he was willing to give us a bit of a hand. But up until then, Nat did it all herself. She still does some of it and he does some of it.

So with that and prepping and meeting, doing the interviews, and then recording it between the three of us, and all the things, it is a lot more effort than it looks like.

Allison

Yeah, and I think that's the thing that can surprise people when they first think, oh, I'm going to start a podcast. And then you actually look into what's involved in it, and there is a lot of work.

What sorts of other things do you do as far as promotion goes? With the fulltime work and the various things, do you have to set time aside to promote them? Or are you mostly doing your stuff online?

Kate

Yeah, look, I'm mostly doing my stuff online. I am signed up with a speakers' agency at the moment. But I only have a fairly limited window of speaking engagements that I'm able to do. So weekends, and then I usually set aside a week or two of my annual leave from my day job to do speaking events. So Book Week and things like that.

But most of the stuff is online. I'm a little bit ad hoc about it, I have to say. I do my best. I do what I can. I did your Build Your Author Platform course.

Allison

Oh, excellent.

Kate

Yeah. Which I think one of the key things that I took away from that, and I'm not sure if this was your exact messaging, I think sometimes we interpret messaging in the way that we need to hear it, but it was basically: you can only do what you can do.

Allison

Yeah it was. That was part of my messaging. Do what you can do, but be consistent about what you can do.

Kate

Yeah. So like I don't blog, for example. I have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I'm reasonably consistent on Twitter and not so much on Facebook and Instagram.

One of the things, I guess, the good things about One More Page, and this is by design, is that it has its own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and we're much more consistent on those platforms than perhaps I am on my own. And they give me the opportunity as well to use those platforms to spread the word about my book. So it's not just the podcast, it's all the things that come with the podcast. And because there are three of us, we can split, share the load in terms of those types of posts.

So at the moment, with Anzac Girl, the wonderful thing about that is that there's a lot of background to that story that I am able to share. So for example, it was International Women's Day recently, so I could put a picture of my actual grandmother, not my illustrated grandmother, and tell a bit of the story of her life, and the aspects of her life that I find really inspiring.

So it's great for an author when you've got that backstory and that content. I often envy illustrators because they've got all the works in progress. It's a very visual medium.

Allison

Yeah.

Kate

And social media loves visuals. So there's lots of stuff that they can put up there. And I often feel a little bit stuck as an author. It's like, there's no way in hell I'm putting my first draft up there for people to see!

Allison

So is that promotional aspect of being an author something that you like? You said you had no qualms about public speaking, which is a huge bonus. But is the actual promotion, putting yourself out there, having to come up with something new to talk about that's not really talking about book, but talking about your book, is that kind of stuff, does that come naturally to you? Is it something you enjoy?

Kate

Um… I enjoy aspects of it, I would say. I really enjoy the podcast. I love to do it. It's given me so many opportunities. So that's the big love part. I enjoy Twitter. I like the interaction, the banter. And I don't push myself to be all about my book. It's really just a chatty place where I can talk about whatever's going on in my life. And the thing that I like so much about it is the more insignificant, the more tweetable, it seems. So there's not a lot of pressure to think of something mind-blowing to say!

I'm not at all visual, so I really struggle with Instagram, for example. And as I say, I don't do blogs, because I just find I don't have the time for it, and there's only so much that you can do.

So some of it comes more naturally than other things.

Allison

Okay. So speaking of having the time, you work fulltime, you have two children of your own. How do you fit all of the various aspects of your writing life in around that, including the writing? The actual writing.

Kate

Yes. I have to admit that the writing has not been happening as much as perhaps it should!

Allison

Oops.

Kate

Yeah, which is a bit of a problem. It is a problem. I'm willing to admit it. It is a genuine, something that I genuinely struggle with is trying to find that balance. Figuring out how I can possibly work all of this in together.

One of the advantages of the very long lead time on picture books means that a lot of this stuff I wrote at a time when I was less busy, and it's just coming out now.

Allison

Right. Yep.

Kate

I have a critique group who keeps me honest because we do meet once a month. I do not go every month, but I try to go as often as I can. And that sort of gives me a deadline to write something. Even if it's not a great something, I think sometimes you just need to keep the wheels turning and the creativity flowing.

Allison

Accountability.

Kate

Yeah. But I would say that the promotional and the aspects of it, even just the sending new content out to pitching to publishers and all of those sorts of things, since I first got published, returned to work, started my podcast, I have spent a lot more time on the podcast, the pitching, the administration than I have on the writing. So I am sort of actively trying to figure out ways that I can swing that balance around a little bit.

Allison

It's not easy, is it?

Kate

It's really hard.

Allison

All right, Kate Simpson, now where can people find you online Kate? Just in case they don't get to our show notes, because we do always put contact details for our authors in the show notes, just in case you didn't know. But Kate is now going to tell us where her website is so that you can go and have a look.

Kate

Yes. So you can find me at KateSimpsonBooks.com and you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at K – because they don't allow KateSimpsonBooks is too long – so KSimpsonBooks on Twitter and Instagram. And you can find OneMorePagePodcast.com or OneMorePageAU across the social media platforms.

Allison

All right, and we're going to finish up of course with our three top tips for writers, because that's what we do. So what are your top three tips for writers?

Kate

Okay. So I'm not sure if I'm supposed to start with the least important and work to the most important.

Allison

You can just go with whatever you want.

Kate

But I'm gonna go hard with my absolute number one beats them all top tip for writers is join a critique group.

Allison

Okay.

Kate

I cannot stress enough how important they were to my development. Preferably if you can find one that's where the people are a little bit ahead of you but not miles ahead of you in terms of their development. These were the people that told me that picture books have 32 pages. They pointed me in the direction of writing courses, they told me which publishers were looking, as well as actually critiquing my books on a regular basis. So absolutely cannot…

Allison

Was yours a specific picture book critique group?

Kate

Yes.

Allison

Or was it a general one? So you actually managed to find yourself one where everybody was writing a picture book.

Kate

Mhm, yep. So the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is great for that. And also your local writers' centre. So I did mine through my state-based writers' centre. But I've also had ones through SCBWI as well at different times, online ones, and things like that. So yeah, definitely out there and find something in that regard.

My next one will be to develop strategies to manage the emotional rollercoaster. I think if you are too confident in yourself, you're never gonna get anywhere because you're just not going to be open to criticism and to develop and to all of those things. But it's very easy to let the fear and the rejection get in the way. So I feel like this links to the first point, because the biggest thing for me was just surrounding myself, through my critique group and in other ways, with writers who were in the same situation. So you can kind of vent and share the problems and things like that that you have.

And look, I'm not being very original here, but I've got to say: read. Read for craft and also read to fill the creative void. And do whatever else fills that creative space, as well. I think I just slipped a fourth tip in there. So number three.

Allison

No, that's… Look, we love a bonus tip. Bonus tips are always good. All right, well, thank you so much for your time today Kate. We very much appreciate it. I think it's been an incredibly useful for anyone out there who is, well, across a whole range of areas there. So thank you very much. And best of luck with Anzac Girl. I think it's going to go gangbusters.

Kate

Thank you so much.

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