Date of Success:
Zewlan (it's pronounced Shoolen!) Moor writes playful books for kids. She is a word nerd and science nerd, with degrees in Medicine and English Literature. She likes all sorts of books, including graphic novels, poetry, and cozy mysteries. And she enjoys prescribing the right book at the right time through her private practice, Byron Bibliotherapy. When she's not writing or reading, she plays board games, watches inappropriate shows with her kids and works in robotic surgery.
Zewlan's debut picture books are coming out in 2023: Nothing Alike (illustrated by Peter Cheong, Bright Light | Hardie Grant) and The Bill Dup (illustrated by Simon O'Carrigan, Windy Hollow). She is represented by Amy Thrall Flynn at Rubin Pfeffer Content.
WHAT CYA CONFERENCE DID FOR ME
CYA did so much for me!
I started writing in earnest in 2016, after getting my GP exams out of the way, finally, and finishing building our house. I consider myself a long-time lover of children's books. I'd done my Honours thesis on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and the first three books in the Harry Potter series in 2002. I'd read a lot but I'd never sat down to write my own children's books. It was harder than it looked, and I really appreciated the Writing Picture Books course at the Australian Writers' Centre.
When I finally had a few manuscripts finished, I realised there was so much more to learn about the industry, so I went along to some CBCA branch meetings, followed the CBCA Awards and moseyed along to some other kidlit events in SE QLD. I kept hearing about the CYA Conference, and even though I didn't really know what it was, I trusted the people who raved about it, so I went along. I even booked in for two assessments my first year, which was pretty bizarre, looking back. But I got good and encouraging feedback from the editors, and everyone was so friendly!
I have judged the chapter book category one year, which was very illuminating. I've entered the competition most years, generally placing very low down. But I've appreciated the feedback. And been cheered by seeing many titles that scored low down (like in 85th place) subsequently published. It proves what we all know, that the industry is very subjective.
I have enjoyed listening to Success Story panels and generally gleaning whatever wisdom I could from speakers. I attended the bootcamps for two consecutive years and was fortunate to have two editors who were very forthcoming with their feedback. In general, I love "networking" or chatting with people in person, and even in the online groups, where you're often paired with someone you wouldn't normally chat to. Most of all, I appreciate that Tina started the conference at a time when there were no opportunities for people outside Melbourne and Sydney to meet publishing professionals. She and her team are so generous with their time, enthusiasm and helpfulness.
Over the years since my first conference, I've only missed one. I even attended online from Costa Rica when we were there in 2020! That was the year I had an assessment with Cristina Pase from Windy Hollow. She made some suggestions for one of my manuscripts, The Bill Dup. I made the changes, re-submitted and she made an offer. I am so happy she took a chance on a manuscript with a fair amount of wordplay! It has been a delight working with Cristina, and even meeting her in 2021 when she came to the Gold Coast. She has paired me with a wonderful illustrator, Simon O'Carrigan, and we're looking forward to seeing the book come out later this year (2023). Yes, things move slowly in publishing, but I can honestly say, some things are worth the wait.
After I received that first contract, the pace picked up for my writing career. I signed with a literary agent, Amy Thrall Flynn in mid-2021, and she has been wonderfully supportive. My second picture book, Nothing Alike, was contracted in August 2022 and it's actually going to be published before The Bill Dup! I've just seen the internal illustrations by Peter Cheong, who was the SCBWI Australia Emerging Illustrator of the Year, 2022. They are amazing! So, 2023 is turning out to be a big year for me, but I'll still be attending CYA - I'm an addict!