Category Archives: Misc.


Sharing Stories – Connect to Reading with Authors & Illustrators – a Book Week Event for Kids aged 10-13

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Originally posted on Book Links (Qld) Inc:
Sharing Stories 2014 Connect to Reading with authors and illustrators An event for children aged 10-13 years on Saturday 23 August from 1:30pm – 4:30pm at Bulimba State School Hall Oxford Street, Bulimba…

Write Links – a group for writers in Brisbane, & my new profile

Write Links was formed in 2013 to encourage and assist children’s  writers as identified by both SCBWI Queensland (a Chapter of the  international Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and  Book Links. The group is administered by Book Links Queensland Inc. and meets at State Library Qld.  Write Links is a writers’ group for beginning and emerging children’s writers and/or illustrators living in Brisbane and the surrounding area.   Members network, share information, critique each other’s work, motivate and cheer each other on in working towards achieving personal writing goals. A variety of professional development sessions from ‘social media for authors’ to ‘how to write the perfect pitch’ take place each month.  Write Links also has an active online Facebook group.  There are several critique groups: picture book, junior fiction and young adult.

I play in active role in Write Links, helping with administration as well as conducting Professional Development sessions on topics such as Social Media for Aspiring Authors & Illustrators.  It has been an absolute pleasure watching this group grow in the past year.

Part of that growth has been the development of our very own website, skilfully put together by Yvonne Mes.  Part of the website is dedicated to Member Profiles, and I had a load of fun answering some of the questions put to us.  Check out the website HERE.  And check out my ‘new’ profile below:

Write Links Profile

Name:  Sam Sochacka

Sam Sochacka is an aspiring children’s author and children’s literature advocate with a background in English as a Second Language Teaching and children’s entertainment.  Sam has a particular interest in writing picture books and ertainment junior fiction novels full of adventure, inspired by her childhood on farms, and endless days spent exploring beaches and rock pools.  She works hard to advocate for Australian Children’s Literature and Literacy.  Sam also goes by the names of Sam-I-Am and Samwich, the latter inspired by a picnic lunch shared with a 4 year old.

Age group you write for/ genre: Picture Books – younger and older readers, junior fiction

Social Media information:



Twitter – @SamSochacka

LinkedIn –

Do you illustrate? (If so please add some illustrations)

I’ve always said that I am to illustrating as a BBQ skewer is to a blow-up castle at a school fete.  Yes, I really am that bad.  In previous stick-figure challenges with those under 6, I have been the undisputed loser.  I really look forward to working with those who truly are gifted, of whom there seems to be many in the Australian children’s literature industry.

Which writer(s) inspire you?

From my own childhood, the stand out writers are Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and May Gibbs.  As to current writers, there are too many to mention.  I’m very blessed to have met a number of Australia’s top children’s writers including Mem Fox, Alison Lester and Jackie French.  I would also have to say that any writer who has pursued their dream to a point of being published is very much an inspiration to me, as I appreciate how much work goes into getting a manuscript ready for publishing.

What draws you to writing for children specifically?

Though she’s as tall as an adult,

and the age of one too

She often acts childish,

doing things that kids do.

The above is the first half of a poem that is on my website, and it is an accurate reflection of how I operate.  Kids seem to have much more fun compared to adults.  I feel I have the best of both worlds as an adult who thoroughly enjoys being with children, and sharing the joy in what they do.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember.  I have copies of short (very short) stories that I wrote in my early primary years that were subsequently published in annual school magazines.  In my final year at primary school I was the editor of our school magazine.

As an adult, I only truly dedicated my time to full time writing at the beginning of 2011.

Which professional writing bodies are you a member of?

SCBWI – The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators

QWC – Queensland Writers Centre

I would also recommend the following to aspiring authors and illustrators.  They are not professional writing bodies, but I believe being a member of them is invaluable.

Book Links (QLD) Inc. – The Centre for Children’s Literature

The Children’s Book Council of Australia

IBBY – International Board on Books for Young People

Best time of day to write

I find early morning and late in the evening are the best times for me to write.  They are the times with least distractions, and few phone calls.  I have learned though, that anytime my modem and phone are turned off are in fact the best times.

What do you do to assist you in writing (e.g. take courses, writing groups etc.)

Structured writing time suits me best, and as above, an electronics-free environment.  Taking courses and attending workshops are essential as it keeps me up-to-date and they also make for great networking with industry professionals as well as other aspiring authors. Being a part of writing groups, especially online groups, seems to obliterate the feeling of isolation that plagues so many writers.  I also try to spend as much time either with kids, or doing what they do, to stay in touch with my audience.  Reading picture books and junior fiction novels is also incredibly inspiring, and keeps my mind in the mind of my readers, as well as my fellow writers.

What are your writing goals?

To be published, many times of course!  I would like to contribute to the amazing body of children’s literature here in Australia.  I would like to give children great books that they would enjoy, and that would increase their passion for reading.  I also really look forward to working with other writers and illustrators.

What does your ideal Sunday look like?

Well, my ideal Sunday would require Hermione’s Time Turner from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  You know the hourglass on her necklace that allows her to attend far more classes than normal time would allow?  I would multiply my 16 waking hours by 4 (just let me get the calculator, maths is not my forte……) and end up with 64 in total.  20 hours would go to completely uninterrupted writing time.  10 would go to reading, and 10 would go to researching writing techniques such as character and world creation.  10 would go to meeting with friends in writing and critique groups.  The final 16 would go to being with other friends and family, enjoying the good things such as cooking; going to the beach; computer game battles and photography adventures.

If you could meet/invite any 3 children’s writer/illustrator who would they be?

I’m going to break the rules on this question, I’m going to name four, and the other three would make it the best little meeting ever! Roald Dahl, Astrid Lindgren, Dr Seuss and May Gibbs are the first four.  Mem Fox, Jackie French & Alison Lester would be the others, but I’ve already met them and look forward to meeting them again!

StoryArts – Children’s Literature Festival

StoryArts Festival banner - TEXT
Children’s Program
September 9 – 12, 16 – 17
Adult’s Program
September 13 – 15

I have been given the most amazing of opportunities this year.  I have been invited to be the guest blogger at StoryArts Festival Ipswich 2013.  The Festival is a nationally renowned Children’s Literature Festival held biennially.   Australia’s favourite Children’s authors and illustrators are invited to come and present free talks, performances, exhibitions, writing and illustration workshops and panels to children.

There is also a program for teachers, teacher librarians, and aspiring and emerging authors.    Talks, panels and workshops will be offered alongside manuscript appraisal sessions.  A gala dinner will be held where festival attendees will be able to mingle with the best of the best of Australian Children’s authors and illustrators.  There are still a few places available for the Adult’s Program, so head on over to the Festival Blog to find out more and make a booking.

I will be attending the Festival for both the children’s and adult’s programs and will be blogging daily about the sessions.  I will also be interviewing authors and illustrators.  I couldn’t think of a better thing to do at a Children’s Literature Festival!

Stay tuned to my blog, and the Festival Blog, to read more about StoryArts Festival Ipswich 2013 and my adventures there!

2013 CYA Conference – with my 2 Mini-mentors

Children are the most important people in the world of Children’s Literature, of that I have no doubt. So as the 2013 Children’s and Young Adult’s Writers and Illustrator’s Conference drew near, I contacted the organisers to volunteer to look after unaccompanied children that attend the Conference. My wish was granted, I donned the standard “Hatchlings High Vis Jacket” (it makes me easier to find for the kids and organisers), and began my day of experiencing the Conference through the eyes of children, whom I realised became my mini-mentors for the day. Two to be specific. Two boys aged 8 and 12. And we had a blast! Getting in touch with my inner-preteen occurred within minutes of catching up with the boys as the tone of the jokes made a bee-line to every boy’s favourite topic. No need to mention it here, suffice to say it was all a bit smelly.

Our first session was “What Mickey Mouse Couldn’t Teach Me” with Children’s Book Illustrator Serena Geddes. She has illustrated 18 books over 4 years including board books, picture books and junior fiction. She gave us some great tips for approaching publishers and then we started a session on drawing emotion. Now, I am to illustrating as what a BBQ skewer is to a blow-up castle at a school fete so I felt very unqualified. But with my 2 mini-mentors as helpers, we dove in the deep end and came up with some amazing, and quite scary at times, characters. I felt much braver when it comes to illustrating thanks to the encouragement I received from my 2 mini-mentors. Serena also gave some great tips including get to know your own style, daydream, be a ‘people watcher’ and pay attention to what other illustrators do. Here is a before and after picture of what Serena came up with during her lesson after we gave her a complicated list of character traits to work with.

2013-07-06 10.32.49
2013-07-06 10.58.02

After a very indulgent morning tea, we figured the more sugar the better as we would need it to crank our brains into top-creative mode, we went to meet Tristan Bancks to learn all about his Story Scrapbook App. Tristan began the session by reading from his latest short story, “Kids Stink”. Tristan is a gifted storyteller, both on paper and in person, so he had us all on the edge of our seats, and sometimes nearly falling off them with laughter. Thank you Tristan for sharing your story with us. Here are a few pictures from the story.

2013-07-06 11.36.34
2013-07-06 11.38.20

Tristan and a Top-Shelf-Computer-Geek-Friend created the Story Scrapbook app as a story brainstorming, and workshop, tool for story creation. The app allows you to collate images, videos, sound grabs, notes and maps to inspire you to write the best story you can. Again my 2 mini-mentors trumped me with their skills in using the web-based app. Mr 12 came up with an amazing array of insect-oriented material and Mr 8 had a blast discovering lots of information pertaining to Cavemen. Mr 12 showed me a draft of a story he was working on about insects, both Tristan and I were highly impressed with his efforts.

Tristan’s Story Scrapbook app is brilliant for young, and the not so young, storytellers and I would insist that you all give it a go. You can download it for free at Thanks again Tristan for producing such a brilliant and useful app for those of us who love to create stories. Your app will help us all collate information to create some stellar stories.

Lunch was next on the menu. It was great to give our brains a break and get our tummies a tumbling with great sandwiches that would see us through another 2 sessions of creative inspiration.

For the next session we had been warned that it would be messy and aprons were required. My 2 mini-mentors had taken note of the advice, I had not. I informed them that I was not concerned, and that I had a washing machine that could cope with any mess. I was a little worried though as I was wearing my favourite white pants. No matter how messy it was going to get, I knew a session with James Foley, illustrator of “The Last Viking” and “In the Lion”, would be worth it. James’ session was on Creating Characters, he opened with some great tips on creating characters with examples from his own two books. His top tips were to refer to photos to create realistic animal characters, make sure each character has a unique head and silhouette shape, as well as some very technical tips on the changing shapes of characters’ heads and faces depending on their age.

With these tips in hand, we were all given a lump of clay to create our own 3D character. James told us that having a 3D version of our character’s head allowed us to draw our characters from all sides in a consistent manner. The creation process sure was messy, but some amazing characters were created. Mr 12 was then seen carrying his character around very carefully for the rest of the day. It was a pleasure seeing and hearing him explain his character’s traits to other Conference Delegates at afternoon tea.

The CYA Conference achieved a major celebrity coup for their 2013 Conference. US based YA author Jackson Pearce flew all the way from Atlanta, Georgia to present at the Conference. For the final session of the day I was granted leave from my mini-mentors to attend Jackson’s session on Social Media. Jackson is one of the most successful Social Media users I follow, using her blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to keep in contact with her fans all over the world. She is very entertaining and gives great insight into her stories and creative process through social media. I would encourage any of you interested in the YA market to seek her out on Social Media and see what she has to offer. Jackson offered us some great tips on using her favourite social media platforms as well as some key downsides of social media that we must all be aware of.

In conclusion I need to begin by thanking the organisers of the CYA Conference. They work all year putting together a priceless day of learning and networking for Children’s and YA Book creators of all ages. I must also thank my 2 mini-mentors who taught me so much, and allowed me the insight of experiencing different creative processes through their eyes. I will definitely be volunteering to look after children at next year’s Conference. And for all of you interested in Children’s and YA books, I would highly recommend that you attend the Children’s and Young Adults Writers and Illustrators Conference next year on July 5. Find out all about the Conference by visiting their website

A very busy year!

Well, I simply can not believe that June is here. 2013 has been one of the busiest years for me yet. Writing, working as a Children’s Literature and Literacy Advocate, including my work with Book Links – The Centre for Children’s Literature, has meant I’ve had little time for blogging.

To find out about Book Links – The Centre for Children’s Literature, check out their website here –

I am also busily helping the organisers of StoryArts Festival Ipswich 2013 prepare for their Children’s Literature Festival in September. To find out more about this amazing opportunity to meet with Australia’s leading authors and illustrators, check out their website here –

I look forward to blogging more about my life in the World of Children’s Literature.

And remember,

Reading is cool,
it’s simply the best!
So pick up a book,
and your life will be blessed.