Date of Success:
Kerri is a Sunshine Coast, Queensland based writer. Her debut Picture Book Beside the Sea, illustrated by Jess Racklyeft and published by Windy Hollow Books (2022) was named as a CBCA Notable 2023 - Book of the Year Early Childhood. Her second Picture Book with Windy Hollow is forthcoming in October 2023. Twice winner of CYA Conference Category 2 Picture Book competition (2015, 2021), she was runner up in the Writers Unleashed N.S.W Picture Book competition 2021, Shortlisted Scribbles Creative Writing Awards 2020 and longlisted for the First 5 Forever Stories, Songs and Rhymes Project curated by the Qld State Library 2020.
At the heart of her stories are themes of individuality, persistence and the simple joy of being a child at play. She aspires for her stories to be shared at home and in the classroom, sparking curiosity, freeing readers and listeners to explore words, sound and creative thinking. Kerri wants children to find joy and wonder in her books and to have illustrators enjoy playing with her stories. When not writing she loves family time, reading, bushwalking and being in her garden which has a great view of the Glass House Mountains.
WHAT CYA CONFERENCE DID FOR ME
CYA Conference gave me pivotal opportunities. Opportunity to meet other creative dreamers who loved writing as much (sometimes more) than me. Opportunity to see having my work published was possible, because CYA opened the door to information, learning and validation. Opportunity to present my work via the competitions and also the wonderful assessment sessions provided invaluable feedback. Opportunity to find a pathway to publication via my connection with an Editor after I won the Unpublished Pre-School Picture Book Competition in 2021.
I always loved to write stories and poems, even as a child, but rarely shared them with anyone except when called on in class to read out my composition – usually “What I did on my holiday”. Adulthood arrives though, as it must, and we put childhood things to one side too often and don’t circle back to them until much later. We really shouldn’t do that.
I can’t remember how I found out about CYA Conference back in 2015 or really why I thought my work was worthy of entering the Unpublished Author Picture Book section, but I did. I didn’t book any assessment sessions – my confidence not really that high. After being told I had been shortlisted I travelled down to Brisbane and amazingly I won. Tina Marie had some good advice for attendees which has stuck with me. She said that as a writer you had to believe in yourself, be respectful to Editors but also be a bit bold at times and “to put your big girl pants on and book an assessment for next year!”
From time to time, I dig out my notes from that 2015 conference and look at the list of goals I wrote after winning the competition.
- Keep writing
- Get a book published
- Put my big girl pants on and book an assessment
- Go dressed as my own character to Book Week parade
- Be on the CYA success wall one day.
I’m happy and amazed to say all those have been ticked off, a rarity for my to do lists!
In the end CYA has directly led to me having not one but two Picture Books being published. That is one more than I ever dreamed of! So, I’ve realised my dream and anything else is the cream on the cake.
I am so appreciative of what CYA Conference did for me and the writing/illustrating community it connected me too. Thank you, Tina Marie, for being so supportive and helpful and all at CYA for creating such a welcoming, accessible, practical and worthwhile creative opportunity.