“PEARLS” OF WISDOM FROM SALLY MURPHY

Author Sally Murphy grew up writing stories and planning that she would one day be a published children’s book author.  She says that when she grew up she found it a little harder than she imagined to get published.

But I didn’t give up on that dream. I kept writing and submitting and learning the craft and, with persistence, I finally managed to get my first books published.

Sally is the author of thirty books ranging from educational resources, to fiction and nonfiction reading books, picture books and verse novels. The thing she enjoys most about writing is knowing that children are actually reading and enjoying her stories.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than having a young reader telling me they like one of my books. Seeing my name on a front cover comes a pretty close second. It is pretty awesome seeing something I wrote produced as a real book.

On the downside, Sally says, you can sweat for months or years on a story and then not get to see it published.

Sometimes that is really tough. But I have learnt that no piece of writing is wasted, because with every new story I write I get better and better – and some of my early stories which were rejected I look back now and realize they simply weren’t good enough.

Sally says that when she realized she was going to need a day job she became a high school English teacher. She figured that a job which involved books and kids would  be a good start until she became an established author.

I did like being a teacher, but I am not currently teaching, although I still need a part time day job to supplement my writing income. These days I  work in local government, running a community resource centre.

According to Sally, her greatest writing achievement has been managing to get published. She says the fact that a publisher takes a risk investing time and money producing one of your books is a huge achievement for any writer.

Another awesome thing has been the awards and shortlistings which my verse novel, Pearl Verses the World, has achieved. Most recently, that book has been shortlisted for the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards, which is a dream come true for me.

THEMES IN SALLY’S WRITING

I think each of my books is very different, though I guess many of them show a child character trying to figure out their place in the world, in the midst of whatever problem is confronting them.

SALLY’S TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS

Number one tip is to spend as much time reading as you do writing. If you are not reading new release children’s books all the time then you you have little chance of success. You need to both know the market and also watch and absorb what does and doesn’t work in other people’s writing. If you don’t have time to read then you don’t have time to be a writer.

Secondly, develop patience and resilience. Getting your work to publishable standard takes time and perseverance. And getting it accepted is hard. be prepared for rejection, and don’t give up if it takes years to get published. If you are serious about being published, don’t take rejection personally. Your first book may never be published. But by the time you have exhausted all avenues with that manuscript you should have been busily producing the next one, and the one after that.

WHAT SALLY IS WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT

I have had a little hiatus the past few weeks because I’ve been travelling and got a little overwhelmed with commitments. But I am just about to get back into editing another verse novel which I think is getting close to finished. I am also researching a picture book, and have some rewrites to do on a longer novel.

When Sally is not writing or working her day job, she is busy looking after her six kids (aged 9 to 23), reviewing books (she runs website www.aussiereviews.com), blogging or updating her facebook and Twitter accounts.

Learn more about Sally and her work at www.sallymurphy.net

We’ll be featuring Pemberthy Bear and Toppling this Friday on Friday Book Feature