I went out for a meal with my friend Heather last Thursday at a local Chinese (mainly a takeaway so not nice and won't go there again). Anyway over the meal we got talking about things and I asked Heather if she would become my coaching buddy for when I start up my business. She said she'd be honoured. A coaching buddy is someone who encourages you when you feel down and rejected and cheers you on when you have something good to say or have just had something published. They help you along the way with smiles and happiness. I was so pleased. I then told Heather about my idea of a business plan and she said it was a very good one as I am passionate about recycling, and it turns out so is she. She lives in borough of Bromley where residents can recycle a lot of different plastics at home rather then take them to a recycling bank. I am so envious. I was so pleased to hear that she recycles a lot, even bringing it back from holidays. She is up for helping me with my idea and will let her know how I am going as I go along. Today I started working on my business plan, drafting out what I want my business to do for people and how I see it coming along in the near future. Next to work on is costs, competitors and suppliers.
Be back later in the week with how I am getting on with revisions for Georgina. Probably after Wednesday when I've met my crit group for the first time.
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Well, on Wednesday I made my way on my own (something I've not done before) to the London Book Fair at Earl's Court. My was it big or what. It was held in both courts but the children's publishing was in no 1. Of course, trust me, I went in the wrong entrance and ended up walking round and round trying to find the room for the first talk. I managed to get there just in time before it started and got a seat at the front. It was a talk about school libraries with a panel of the school librarian of 2010, Gillian Harris, who helped Alan Gibbons with the Campaign for the Book, and authors Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry fame) and MG Harris (Joshua Files fame). The general gist I got is that school libraries should be a safe, fun, welcoming, educational and creative place for pupils to go to and value books. MG Harris said that she'd been in a library where the library was like a cupboard or a small room with mainly computers in. School libraries can only be creative with a creative librarian but this is difficult as it costs money and in this economic climate, well... After that talk I got talking to a librarian from Suffolk who mentioned that she was planning to do author events with her groups of primary and secondary pupils and would I be interested. I wasn't sure and said it could be challenging. I gave her my card and don't know if I hear from her. I now know that I need to expand my repertoire of talks/workshops. Have been thinking of this. Then I made my way back downstairs to the toilet (didn't have time when I arrived) and to the next talk which was a chat with Anthony Browne and Lauren Child. They were asked questions by Nicolette Jones. They both like each others' work as they are so different with Anthony working with pad and pencils and Lauren on computer. Lauren's work is minimalist and Anthony as a lot of detail in his. Anthony was inspired to draw by surrealism paintings and Lauren by house arrangements like Habitat. Lauren is inspired by TV as she watches more whereas Anthony is inspired by movies as he went every week as a child. Lauen said that what she draws is everything to do with her whereas Anthony said the voice of the author is just as important as the illustrator. Neither intended to be illustrators to start with but Lauren said she applied to do illustration at college, but didn't work out so went for something else. Then she saw Edward Scissorhands and got interested in film. Drew something and gave it a friend's mother who was in fashion and got a reply that she should draw and write. She did Clarice Bean to stop her imitating others. Anthony did graphic design as he wanted to be a painter. Then he became a medical illustrator and drew a picture book, which part of was taken to be his first book about a magic mirror. Lauren tries not to think about her audience as it interferes with her judgement of her work. She only draws things that she loves. She keeps her eye on the market and said that you have to understand what publishers want. If you look about too much you could get too intimated so take a moment to think and your chance may come. Anthony had no sense of market just painted then did it. Said don't aim your work at anyone if you want to try to please someone as you may get lost what you want to do. Lauren writes what she thinks is funny and Anthony does what comes out. Lauren said let go of listening to everyone and be yourself, unless you get a comment the same from a few people and you know you are going wrong. Don't study the market too much. Go on what you feel is right and don't take on all that has been said to you. Anthony said that he was influenced by surrealism, read others books and saw what was being read and knew what was needed. So gist of what they say is never compromise your work if it makes you unhappy and be true to yourself and your instincts. I had lunch then and wandered round and round up and down the children's section before going to the other court to listen to Julia Donaldson and Axel Shaffler talk about their partnership. I couldn't see them that well as it was crowded and I had to sit on a chair at the side. All in all a good but tiring day. Now I know what to expect I can plan better next time.
Thursday, 7 April 2011
On Tuesday night I went to the SCBWI-BI anthology launch, where they had a panel of agents, editors, bookseller and literary scout. To put the panel at ease Sara O'Connor asked them a set of fun questions which included favourite childhood book ( this ranged from Goodnight Mr Tom to the Little Wooden Horse), recommended books (Graveyard Book and Julia Churchill said to read broadly). Then more serious questions such as what are you looking for. Now here was where I seriously made notes. Rachel Boden of Egmont doesn't want straight history or high fantasy (Tolkien), but does want 8-10 y/o boys and girls adventures, with humour. Survival stories (Dsytopia) and learning to survive in life. Dagmar, the literary scout said the same, but doesn't want humour like Horrid Henry Amber Caraveo of Orion said no high fantasy, and there is a gap for middle-grade adventure, and they want YA still as they had just started a new YA imprint called Indigo. Then asked what makes books stand out for them. Rachel said good characters (can't read what I put), when you read it you want to be on the journey with the character. Writing that hooks you. Strong voice that draws you in. Plots that stand out and has hook. Catherine Pellegrino said, good voice and character, writing that stands out. Then what are the author pitfalls. Jasmine Richards of OUP said a slow start. If not interested by page 10 then won't be. You've got to show what you've got as writter, and give the best shot at what you write. Ideas done before and aren't fresh. Jenny Savill said too many words or not enough, and not right words. Mss that has actions starting on page 3, too little sense what story is about, has to be told in an interesting way. Julia said entering scene too later or too early. Ie no alarm clocks or having breakfast. Show don't tell. Then it went online and they were asked what they meant by high fantasy - goblins, wizards and quests etc. I sighed with relief as I deem Allie low fantasy. Then it was to the bar. I went all brave (considering I have Asperger's and find it hard to communicate and socialise) and asked Rachel if she'd be interested in a low fantasy. She asked me what I wrote and I told her and she said yes. I gave her my card and she said that she'd mention my novel to her colleague whom I said I'd send it to. Then I went in search of Amber and I said the same thing with what the premise of my story was, and she replied the same to send it to her, so that is what I am going to do today. It's all printed out ready to be put in an envelope. So that was Tuesday evening and I came home on a high having spoken to 2 publishers who said send me my ms. It's a shame I can't enter the anthology as I am already published. It is a great chance for anyone not published to do so.
Saturday, 2 April 2011
I can't believe April is here already, where did those months go that I've been out of work? Anyway I had my fair share of sucesses and rejections in March. At the beginning of the month I had letter of the month in Green Parent magazine and have still yet to receive the prize of a set of JASON toiletries. Then last Sunday I got an email from the editor of a children's ezine whom I sent a story to in Feb and hadn't heard about it. I was nearly giving up on it when I got the email to say that she was accepting it and wanted to publish it in the January 2012 issue. I shouted yes. I was so pleased. I get the contract a month before and payment goes in via Paypal 10 days after she receives the contract. I can't wait for it to go out there in public. It is the story of a boy who finds a button that looks like a clock and turns back time to make the boy see the error of his ways. It's called 'The Clock Button - The Chosen One'. I think I will write more stories about this button. The rejections were from the agent I met last year. She rejected Allie saying that although she likes it and thinks the story and Allie is stronger than before she doesn't think she can sell it within the competitive market. The other rejection was for an adult short story. I am not giving up on these two and have already sent Allie to other agents and will send the story to other magazines and see what happens. From now on I will be doing a monthly newsletter here with all my successes and failures.