Introduction of Wendy Haynes – Children’s Author
Name: Wendy Haynes
Name of book or project: Hayden’s Bedtime and soon-to-be-released The Door in the Woods Bk1: Saving Hollow Woods
I’ve been learning the craft of writing for many years. After numerous workshops and online courses and Completing a Diploma in Creative Writing from Southern Cross University, did I feel confident with my skills as a writer. Completing a university course also helped me decide that writing for children was what I’m passionate about. What I also found was that the practice of writing regularly was the only way to finish a story.
I write picture books, junior, middle-grade, and YA in contemporary, historical, and fantasy genres.
I believe, as writers, we are always learning, and judging other’s works (in a helpful way) builds a better understanding of what skill and level of writing is required to succeed. I was the judge for the Port Writer’s In-house competition for the creative non-fiction category in 2018, and one of the judges of the fiction category in 2019. I was one of the judges for the CYA Competition for 2019. I’m a reviewer for Buzzwords Magazine, and a Role Model and Reading and Literacy Researcher for Books in Homes. The reason I joined Books in Homes is that I’m passionate about giving all children the opportunity to read and have their own books. The research role is vital to ensure this continues to happen and gives me great insight. Through my business Writing for Keeps, I mentor other writers to reach their goals. On a local level, I coordinate events for writers, including Writing Rendezvous and Writers in Conversation, where writers come together to write and discuss all things writing.
1) What was your first book published?
Hayden’s Bedtime, my first picture book, was published in March 2019. It is a bedtime story about my grandson Hayden who has trouble feeling safe at bedtime. It’s part verse and prose, which has dad checking to make sure the coast is clear. Dad checks, behind the door, under the bed, inside the cupboard, and in the drawer, finding all sorts of fun objects. The story also came to fruition when I applied for the ArtSmart program through my local council in Port Macquarie, NSW. This program is designed to help creatives turn their passion into a business. Since self-publishing my book, it is now with a distributor Woodslane and available in bookstores across Australia, and on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge list.
2) What is your favourite part about being an author?
I love getting feedback from parents by either a photo of their children reading my book or a simple thank you message. But what I love most is being able to tell stories to delight children and draw them to the magic of learning and growing through reading stories.
3) What is the hardest part of being an Author?
I think the hardest part is being more than an author. Whether you are traditionally or self-published, there is a certain amount of marketing and promotion that must be done to sell your book and become known in the community and the publishing world. Many writers are introverts, and the thought of having to put yourself out there is hard for some.
4) How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?
I tested Hayden’s Bedtime using two independent manuscript assessments One with Di Bates of Buzzwords and one with CKT Creative Kids Tales. Both gave great feedback, and it was an important step in editing and improving the story.
With my middle-grade fantasy fiction The Door in the Woods Bk1: Saving Hollow Woods, which will be out early-mid 2020, it was sent to author Annie Seaton to edit, and I had three local kids aged from 10-12 who were my beta readers. I compile specific questions and asked them to be honest with me. They are my target audience, so feedback from them was essential.
5) What is your favourite children’s book now?
Recently I read Kensy and Max- Breaking News the first book in the series by Jacqueline Harvey. It is a spy story. What I like about it is having a male and female protagonist, which is what I did with my middle-grade fiction. And of course, developing it into a series. I liked the thought of catering to all genders when writing for children.
6) What writing genre do you like to do the most?
I am most comfortable writing fiction for children, and most of the time, when I write a picture book, it is often in rhyme. I write in long and short form and I’m drawn to adding magical elements to my stories, though they still have that sense of being on an adventure or a quest. There is always a normal world and a way to enter a magical realm.
7) What is your favourite way/time to read?
I read a lot of children’s books to learn from others. This is usually done sitting in my recliner, with a lamp at my side, a notebook at hand, and sometimes a glass of wine. I read every night, usually adult fiction to relax with and into the story.