Debbie Kahl – YA & Children's Fiction Writer

{July 7, 2012}   When wishes come true …

This week I had one wish. It was huge and very secret. Not earth-shattering, change my world in a heartbeat if anyone found out secret. It was secret to me because I was scared to admit it out loud. I didn’t want to believe it could ever come true. I didn’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t.

I wanted to win the Chapter Book category for my middle grade fiction novel Bitter Besties in the CYA competition. I was shortlisted. It was down to three entries. I was top three no matter what.

But today, in a mad stroke of insane luck (and after five years of writing, editing, drafting, rewriting, re-editing, redrafting), I actually won. Yes, me. I won it! I’m still incredibly shocked and truly humbled by this unique moment in my life.

I thought I was happy to be shortlisted, and I was – until I won. It was only then, when my writing friends were cheering loudly for me as I went to collect my award, that I realised how much I’d really wanted to win.

Five years (on and off) of writing this manuscript; having it critiqued at the CYA Conference Editor Pitch sessions and using this constructive feedback to tweak my story. Having it critiqued by friends in my writing group; and spending hours, days, weeks writing and rewriting it during my holidays/weekends/nights after work – it all came down to this moment.

In an anonymous competition (where the work has no name on it and is judged solely on its merits by judges who’ve never met me) they actually liked what I wrote. They enjoyed it. A ¬†half-decade of work was finally validated. It was all worth it. It’s such an amazing feeling!

And after meeting the other entrants, and realising the high standard of competition I faced, I am even more humbled by my win. I still can’t believe it and I’m so very lucky!

Oprah Winfrey once said: ‘Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.’

I guess after five years of networking, learning, honing my craft and working hard on my story; one can say I was prepared for this opportunity. But the final result was quite simply luck. Everything clicked together for me today and for that I’m grateful. I do, however, hold no illusions that this is only but one hurdle that I’ve jumped and there is still a very, very long road ahead to (hopefully) publication one day.

Still, for today I will enjoy this very rare moment that I’ve worked very hard for. I did the best I could, and I won. I know it’s not perfect and I know there’s still work to be done, but it’s obviously not bad either.

I guess if you dream long enough, work really hard at what you want and the universe aligns itself just right – wishes really can come true.

Now, enough about me. Go now and chase your own dreams! xx


Hi all,

This Saturday marks the annual CYA Conference here in Brisbane. This conference is a wonderful opportunity for Children & Young Adult writers across Australia to network and participate in workshops with YA and children’s writers. If you haven’t yet booked your place and you think this might be your thing, please visit Time is definitely running out to be a part of this incredibly worthwhile conference.¬†

In addition to this conference, and a personal note of achievement for me, is that my work has been shortlisted in one of the CYA competition categories. On Saturday, I will find out where I place, after my work has been judged by an editor from a publishing house. I am so, so, so excited!!! To even be shortlisted is an honour and an amazing achievement within itself. I doubt I’ll get any sleep on Friday night as I’m sure nerves will consume me ..

Apologies in advance that I’m being vague about the details of this competition but I’m sure you can appreciate that as this is an anonymous competition, where the work is judged solely on its merits, I can’t discuss which category I’m in or which work has been shortlisted. But check back here on the weekend – after the conference – when I can tell you all the details. I have my fingers crossed and a thousand wishes out there for a positive result. Wish me luck. x

et cetera