Monday, 31 January 2011

Still decluttering

I am still decluttering my cupboards and wardrobes. At the weekend I started with sorting out all the papers I had in a red file tray here on my computer desk. Managed to put some papers for recycling and for reusage. Then as I had somethings to take up to my bedroom to put away, when I went up there, I went through the concertina file in my wardrobe and chucked out more papers. They were mostly receipts and documents for things such as tv that I don't have anymore. Unfortunately one of those was in a plastic bag, so one thing went to landfill. Oh yes, there were letters that had labels at the top or bottom, so they went to landfill also. I still have one drawer to sort out and file away magazines and papers I have taken out of old magazines about writing. As I haven't got much shopping to do these days, I have plenty of mornings to get round to doing those.

Then it will back to filing again next year.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

I met a publisher

On Tuesday evening I went to the first of the British SCBWI Professional Series talks. It was a talk by 2 editors from Egmont, who are the biggest children's publisher in the UK. First they talked about what they do. Peter Marley is editor for picture books and Ali Dougal is editor for fiction. Egmont do take care of their authors and do workshops for authors. They deal with fiction for all ages and all genres. And what I particularly liked is that Egmont is a founder of an organisation who does ethical publishing and they make sure all their books are printed from sustainable forests. Yay.
They first talked about the digital age. They said that now it is only a small proportion but it is growing. Any new books that they publish from now onwards will go out as an ebook and as print together.
Peter then talked about what he likes in picture books. He likes memorable characters with great personality, appeals to parents and it has to have concise text. Up to 800 words is preferable. The text can be lyrical, clear, the plot obvious and easy for children to understand. The text also has to flow, rise and fall with a strong ending. It should have a symmetry, the start and the end is the same. Think of The Gruffalo.

Ali then talked about fiction. She likes all fiction from 5 - YA. The text has to grab her, with a clear hook. She has to believe in the characters, whom you can champion. She can love the book but if she feels she can't champion it in-house then she might pass on to another editor.

Submission - they accept unsolicited mss. But beware, in the last two weeks they have had 180 emails. A junior reader first reads the ms and if they like will pass it on to the relevant editor. They also get mss from agents. They feel that agents have better idea of whom to submit to in publishers.
If you are established or have a series, then you can send sample chapters with a chapter breakdown. But she has to have belief in the concept to accept it.
When submitting don't rely on gimmicks such as sending chocs to them. They are editorially led. The sales and marketing teams have to feel they want to take it on for it to be accepted. You have to think when submitting, is it commercial and how well will it sell? They have to think when it's best to sell it. If it's seasonal. So they have to have a vision to package it. Eg branding.
They do accept series but it depends on the type of series it is. If it has a specific arc or niche then they can accept it, and they can commission 2-3 books as a series.
In the query letter I found you can put that you do talks to children, as it gives them an idea that you can communicate as children and know how to promote yourself. So this is what I will add to my next query letter out.
If they feel the author has potential they can nuture them. Eg Peter had a picture book submission which he felt had too adult an angle so gave it to Ali to look at but liked the author's voice and asked them to come in to talk about more work.
They then talked about the Banana series they do, for younger readers who just started reading. They rarely accept new authors for that, but to be accepted the book has to be very appealing, with a bit of a message, and it borders on being educational. The word length is up to 2000, which is the longest they take.

After that we all went back to the bar but I went up to Ali. After waiting I asked her 2 questions.
1. How long is the synopsis they want? A: 1 page.
2. Have heard that agents have been inundated with YA novels and now short of middle-grade, is this true with them? Answer. Yes. So one more possible publisher to send Allie it.

Meantime have printed synopsis and first 2 chapters (chapter one split in 2) and will be sending that off to the Slushpile Challenge.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Allie nearly done

I have now finished the current draft of Allie and started the next. I am hoping this is the final draft as I want to send it to the Slushpile Challege set by SCBWI-BI and an agent. The deadline is 7 Feb. I worked on chapter 1 of Allie just before going on here, from comments that my new critique buddy, Sue Hyams, (Hi Sue), has made and ones that I thought of when reading it. I want to type them up then read it again to make sure all sounds OK to me. One thing I want to check when doing this new draft is to work out exactly who is in Allie's class. Then I can see if all the characters that are in the right lessons are there. Chapter 2 is already with Sue, and we will be going through this tomorrow at the local cafe. Can't wait.

Meantime, I have found out from my local council that I can recycle at home empty stamp books. My mum said we couldn't cos they are shiny, but we can. Hurrah, another thing recycleable.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


Over the holidays I haven't really had the motivation to write but now I have two. The first incentive to get on with working on Allie is on the SCBWI-BI website and it's the new slushpile challenge (which I have to print out to remember it). An agent has challenged us children authors to send in the first 2000 words and synopsis of a middle-grade novel we're working on. That is me! The deadline for us to send it in by is 7 Feb, so I have a few weeks to get the first chapter up to scratch for it. 15 people are selected and only one can win a talk with the agent, who is a famous agent for children's authors - Julia Churchill. So that is why I have been working hard on Allie again.
The second motivation is that I am now critique buddy with Sue Hyams, and she has emailed me her first chapter of her ms she's working on. I did say to her that we need motivation to get cracking on with it and she has given me that. I have already emailed her back the first chapter of Allie and think it will be good to have another eye to read it, instead of mine. Hopefully I shall have her feedback back and revised in time for the first motivation.

I also needed motivation to lose weight having put on a couple of pounds over the holiday, and lost most of it within a few days, but this morning found I'd put on half a pound again. Right, that was it. In today's Sunday Mirror Celeb mag, it has features with lots of celebs who have lost weight over the recent years, inc Bev Callard (Liz in Corrie). I had bought Bev's Boot Camp DVD and started using it earlier. Hopefully I will start to see results pretty soon. I am also thinking of starting yoga and have found some simple yoga exercises in the latest Sainsbury's mag, so might work on those too during the week. Watch this space...

That is all for now. Catch up later in week to see if I am still motivated.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Decluttering time again.

It's that time of year again when everyone, inc me, starts to declutter. I know that Rachelle from, and someone called Colleen have been decluttering. So far I have recycled lots of magazines, lots of paper I have accumulated over the years, clothes, bags. I have kept papers to reuse for printing, which will recycle when used. I have also stocked up the box for the charity shop with more books and some clothes when we go near there again. And I have sorted out a couple of stirrup trousers I no longer want (or rather no longer can where due to weight gain) to go to the charity shop. I tried one pair on this morning to go to the hairdressers but it was too tight, so decided to ditch those as well as another pair a different colour. I have also decided to put my cosmetics in a new cleaner bag, so that old bag will go for recycling too. Still have one more magazine box to sort out, then I will sort out my computer desk to see what I do and don't want to use.

Happy decluttering everyone.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

No more Rosie

I am not a happy bunny. I had a letter from Pegasus today saying that they have stopped publishing my book Rosie. Obviously this is due to poor sales. I am going to buy some stock from them and that will be the end of that book until I decide if I want to try again with it elsewhere. The rights are being reverted to me, so I can do what I want with it after that. Who knows I might decide to go back to it later on and rework it in line with what I am doing with Allie now. We shall see.

I am still thinking of putting more puzzles on my website about healthy eating, even if I don't have the book to go with it.

More positive news later this week on Allie.