Date of Success:
Annaleise Byrd writes funny books for kids. Her debut middle grade novel, Losing the Plot – a humorous portal fantasy set in the world of Grimms’ original fairy tales – will be published by Walker Books Australia in March 2024. It will be followed by a sequel, Down the Plot Hole, in 2025, as well as her debut picture book with Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing. Annaleise lives in Brisbane with her husband, two young sons and rescue greyhound, and she is particularly fond of lamingtons.
WHAT CYA CONFERENCE DID FOR ME
My first experience with CYA was when I entered two stories into the competition in 2018. I had only started writing at the end of 2017, and didn’t yet live in Brisbane, so I entered without attending the conference. My stories placed about halfway down the list of entries, but the feedback was invaluable. All four judges suggested I start the story closer to the action.
In 2019, I re-entered one of those stories after incorporating the judges’ feedback… and it placed first in the Chapter Book – Younger Readers category! That was my first year attending CYA in person, and the first year I booked a manuscript assessment. So my second-ever assessment was with a publisher from Penguin Random House as a result of winning the competition!
Between 2020 and 2021, I placed second in the CYA competition three times – once in the Picture Book – Non-Fiction category and twice in the Chapter Book – Older Readers category. During this time, I also received full manuscript requests from a few different publishers, but I never quite made it over the line.
Then, in 2021, I had a manuscript assessment with Clare Hallifax. I sensed right away that this was the one – her enthusiasm for my manuscript was undeniable. Fast-forward a few months and I received a very exciting email! Clare is now my publisher at Walker Books Australia.
I am so grateful the CYA Conference exists. I always recommend it to new writers and encourage them to take the competition feedback seriously. (Especially if all the judges tell you the same thing!) Some of the tips I’ve learnt from presenters at the conference have also stayed with me and regularly influence my writing. Thank you, Tina and the CYA team!