Jackie French - CKT Festival Wrap-up by Hayley Hunkin

As the organiser of this year's sold out festival, I knew being able to deliver any meaningful feedback from the sessions would be impossible. The hope of being able to sit in on a full session, just a dream.I'd be too busy running around ensuring all was running smoothly for our attendees. Instead, I'd need to assign the task of reporting to five dedicated CKT members who I knew would be able to provide readers with a snapshot of each session.

Hayley Hunkin takes us through Jackie French's session - How to begin the journey, how to keep going, and how to be an overnight success in a decade' subtitle (or what the publishers probably won't tell you).

I have never thought of myself as a cow, but Jackie French has changed my mind. Speaking at the Creative Kids Tales Festival on Saturday, April 6, Jackie told all aspiring authors and illustrators that we were like dairy cows – producing the milk, hopefully superior milk, but that there was much more to producing a book, just like there is a big difference between the milk churn at the farm gate and the many different varieties of delicious, gourmet cheeses. The editors, illustrators, and publishers work together to turn the milk of the author's words into the delightful cheese of a book.

'We produce the words and then do what our editors and publishers say. They will be able to tell you what works, what doesn't work, and have the courage to tell you what needs to change to make it better. Every one of us here is capable of writing far better than we currently do. You need to go beyond writing self-indulgently and writing for the reader as a professional writer.'

Jackie went on to say that most people will evaluate a book in just seven seconds. 'Go to a bookstore, pick up a book, look at the cover, and glance at the opening sentence. Check your watch and it will be about seven seconds. If someone takes longer than that to evaluate the book, you've probably made a sale.' Jackie reminded authors to set the scene in the first seven seconds of reading. 'Hopefully, by the final sentence, your reader will be learning about the world you have created, but engage the reader into the world early.'

She spoke about editing, rewriting, and being ruthless in cutting out words that weren't needed. 'When I write 4000 words, I know I need to cut about 1000 of them in the editing process. Imagery is like salt, a pinch adds vividness to the dish, but a cup just makes everything taste of salt. No one ever said, "Oh what wonderful imagery, I'll turn the page for more."

One of the most inspiring things about Jackie's presentation was her passion for changing the world and shaping the society of the future.

'We are the ones who create what society will be like in 10, 20, or 30 years. It takes a village to raise a child, but children's books these days are the villagers. Kids today are depressed, and fearful with the rise of terrorism. Write history so kids know the world changes, write books about surmounting challenges and succeeding against the odds, so kids know how to build resilience, write books that are pure joy and escapism so kids know happiness and how laughter helps, even when the world seems dark. The friends we make in books are with us forever.'

Thanks for the inspiration, Jackie French! Now to work hard on making my 'milk' as superior as possible, ready for others to help turn it into cheese.

Hayley Hunkin
CKT Reporter

'On Friday fifth of April...' by Fiona Lloyd
Creative Kids Tales Writers' Festival 2019

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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

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