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Olivia Coates



Date of Success:

Olivia is an early childhood professional and (now!) a children's author from the South West coast of Victoria. She lives on a dairy farm with her husband, two children, two dogs, a cat, lots of chickens, a family of huntsmans, and two very naughty goats named Hansel and Gretel. Olivia is a nature entusiast who loves being in the garden and helping children get excited about the great outdoors.


Olivia’s debut picture book Shadow Wall has just been released with Ethicool Books. She also has a second picture book contract with EK Books for 2024.


It opened up possibilities.


I had begun to feel stifled by mounting documentation requirements in my role as a kindergarten teacher and was yearning for something more creative. I had daydreamed many times about writing for children but suddenly knew with a strange certainty that this is what I needed to be doing. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt so excited about sitting at my desk to work.


After completing a picture book writing course with the AWC I began to connect with other writers. I noticed they were always talking about CYA this and CYA that. I had never heard of CYA so with a serious case of FOMO, I looked into it. The fact that the conference was delivered online was the real game changer.


Living on a dairy farm in rural Victoria and caring for a child with additional needs puts complex demands on my time. If the conference had only been available in person, it would have been almost impossible for me to attend. So, I literally thought shut up and take my money! It was money well spent.


The energy from this community of people coming together to talk about writing was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. The enthusiasm was contagious and I felt star-struck seeing names of well-established authors I admired amongst the list of conference attendees. I was here with the professionals!


CYA lit a fire in my belly. The more information I got from presenters about practical ways to improve my writing, the hungrier I became. I felt privy to inside secrets and it was addictive. I booked an assessment with Sam Rutter from Storytorch Press. She offered some terrific advice on a manuscript I had been toying with. She gave me the confidence I needed to get serious about approaching publishers and I’ve now gained a contract for that story.


There is such a range of information presented over the course of the CYA conference, it doesn’t all digest straight away. At one stage I thought, ‘I’m not ready to hear about planning a school visit,’ but then bam! There I was, siphoning back through notes to find those little jewels of advice I knew I needed. You can guarantee all of it will be relevant at some stage of your writing journey.

I can honestly say my FOMO is under control now that I’m not planning on missing any more conferences. Thank you to the wonderful CYA team - whom I’m sure never sleep- and who always respond to my frantic emails and questions without judgment!

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