Monday, 27 June 2011

Adults with autism

Here is an interesting fact I have read in the latest Healthy magazine. In a UK survey 600,000 (yes that thousands) adults have undiagnosed autism. It was suggested that in 13,000 household 1 per cent of older people had signs of social awkwardness (a sign of Asperger's). I am not surprised by this finding as I remember when I first went to my GP to try to get referred he said that lots of people have a variety of it. If I hadn't been made redundant last year then I would be one of those 600,000 but thankfully I'm not now I've been diagnosed and can get help.

It also mentioned that there is a focus more on children with autism rather than adults. I can believe this as I feel that it is easier to diagnose children with autism than adults. I first asked the GP for referral last September and got an assessment for diagnosis in March this year. It takes a long while for the process to go through as you have to get approval from your Primary Care Trust.

I found this little bit of news very interesting and inspiring. Inspiring because I have decided to do what a member of my crit group first said to me when I told her I had Asperger's - write about it. I have ideas for a few articles which I might target for disabled magazines or even healthy magazines. We shall see, so watch this space. On Thursday I have a meeting with a duty worker for an assessment, so shall blog about that on Friday. See you then.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Allie and libraries

I am cracking on with Allie now as I want to start resending her out to publishers and agents next week. I have decided to centre the headings because it looks much nicer like that and I think most children's books have the chapter headings like that. Also I am going to put a picture of a planet above the headings because I think it will look more engaging to read. I am catching up with myself though as I have only 2 chapters left that I've revised that need typing up and only half way through the book. Plan to do 2 more chapters this afternoon as well as reading through Sammi story. I have added more magic to the story by making her jumper glow when she passes her tests but need to read through the book again to make sure that I have this all the time, which I don't think I have.

Had another library meeting on Thursday and again quite successful. V keen to help me promote my books in there so that it can promote them too. Said they want to do themes now and then and healthy living can be one of them. Gave them posters of Rosie and of my new blog to post, which they said will put up with the Summer Reading posters. Hopefully will get some interest. They did try to get hold of the people who are holding the local arts festival to see if I can have a table there to sell my book but no luck as they were busy so said they'd email me with news, so wait for that. Next stop on 2nd July is Grove Park library. All three libraries are now run by EcoComputer Systems and I do want to get involved with them. We shall see.

Tomorrow will be result of paper throwing away and what comes in so watch Naturally Greeny.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Library meeting

Yesterday I had a meeting with a local library manager at a library that has recently been taken over by an Eco company. I wanted to do work both as an author and as a volunteer and this is what we talked about. I said I wanted to do occasional work with children as a children's author which she noted and as a volunteer. I mentioned the chatterbooks groups which is run by the Reading Agency, and she said she'll get in touch with them to find out what needs to be done and how it's run, as I said I wanted to work with chatterbooks groups of 8-12 y-olds as I've had experience with them. She will get back to me once she's spoken to them. Also about volunteering she is keen for me to work there. I gave her posters and cards promoting my book and my new blog and she said there's no problem advertising them and could help me out more with this as she knew people in advertising and would talk to them how to advertise my work and let me know what they say and when she will be promoting it in the library. Said it was unfair on me if she put it up without my knowledge and I thought this was so nice. I mentioned about linking with schools and she said that again she could help me on this as she had spoken to a teacher and would I like her to mention me to her and see what she said. I said yes please. Any mention that could help me would be great, I thought. It was back to talking about volunteering again. She is going to email me a form to complete, which I will do when I get it and take it back there. Also she said that there is a thing called time banking when you volunteer where you clock up hours volunteering and the hours you earn you can use up paying for something you need to pay for eg if I wanted to rent out their room for author events, I could exchange hours for payment. I thought this is a good idea and can't wait to start as I have a few ideas on how to get children working and involved in creative writing and arts already. Something I have to mention to her tomorrow when I phone her.

All in all it was successful esp I as met with the man who has taken over the libraries himself. A v busy and friendly man and I admire him for what he wants to do. He wants to raise money to put solar panels on the library and put in a cafe like his other library I have seen. Make it more community minded, which is good. I really am looking forward to working there. I want to work as an author in his other libraries and have yet to speak to people, which I will do tomorrow. So watch this space....

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Allie and Georgina

Well, where am I with these? I have just added more description and emotion to chapter 12 of Allie and checked another chapter of Georgina. I want to read through chapter 3 of Allie too later because I don't think I have put the walls turning blue when her magic works and need to be consistent with that as I plan to write to more agents and publishers next week. Now that I have started with revision to Allie again (there was a few days break after the retreat) I feel I am now on a roll and want to get to the end as I am enjoying adding description and emotion and shimmering walls and floors. I shall do all this in Georgina in the next draft, for now I am reading through adding more magical things to it. But when I start the next draft I have to write down descriptions of all the characters in it, so I know what to put when I come to them in the writing.

Speaking of agents. I have had a couple more rejections. One agent no longer does childrens' submissions as the agent that did works elsewhere, a publisher said they didn't think it was strong enough for the competitive market (it might be now with the changes) and the other was a standard rejection. One more publisher to reply to me though, but other agents to send to in mind, inc one publisher. Shall let you know what I will do and what I find out later on. Watch this space...

Monday, 6 June 2011

May news

Well, May got off to a v good start. I had a letter published in Amateur Gardening magazine, winning me a prize of a £5 garden voucher. My mum gave me the money for that, and she used the voucher at our local garden centre buying some flowers for our front garden. Then later in the month I found out that a romantic short story had been accepted for a new forthcoming website for short stories, which pays half to the author and half to a charity. I shall keep you informed when this website comes live.

Also in May I went to a workshop and discovered a new way to revise your work - with highlighters. You highlight different parts of your work in different colours, say I use red for emotion and pink for dialogue. I have found this v useful so far in revising Allie, and seeing what I have put too much of and what I need to add (normally emotion and description), and amend accordingly. Because I do this now, whenever I read a book, I am analysing it saying to myself, that's emotion, that's action etc... Then at the end of May I went to a retreat for the first time, and had a wonderful and productive time. The last 2 posts are all about what I learnt and did there.

I shall try to put my June news at the end of this month, and I do have some news already, which I have put on Facebook. Success so far. Next post will be about Allie and Georgina.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Retreat Day 2 & 3

On the Saturday, the second day, the first session was writing time. Now I don't normally write in the morning but at lunch time, but I think because I had already worked out what I wanted to work on over the weekend (description) I knew what I wanted to do and I did it. I worked on 2 chapters of Allie over an hour and a half, writing descriptions of Allie, her friends and teachers. Then describing the magic the school can do - shimmering walls and floors and bins. Had great fun doing that. Then it was coffee, and I had herbal tea, then it was Candy talking about exposition. What it is (explanation), and ways of how to turn it into story. We learnt that a story is designed to interest and amuse, it's never about you but your audience. How to unfold and set-up and reveal in the story. The different acts in the story - act 1 is to pose a question that'll keep the reader reading. How you pose it is the craft of the story. Act 2 is tension risiing. High point of story, and the rug-pulling momement, the climax. How you reveal the answers is the secret to taming exposition, which is story in the wrong place. So you have to find out where the right place is. Act 3 is the inevitable and unexpected. Give the audience what it wants but not the way they expect it.
Then she gave us exercises which we all wrote down. One of them I used later on in a second writing session: Description into action. Where you describe something by either action, reaction or sensation. I am now describing things with feelings or reaction from Allie in the way of questions. There were other exercises such as Rules of Magic, The world's flat.
Then she gave us a check list of things to think about when you have done the first draft. What do you want to say? Is something happening? Do we need to know this now? (is there a better place later on) Are my characters explaining their world? were some.
During this talk I made several notes to change things in Allie later on, which I did and will still do in later chapters.

We had lunch, then came a talk by author Tommy Donbavand, who is really funny. He talked about how horror came into his life at the age of 12 reading a horror book which scared him to bits. How he came to be a clown, then an actor then realising he could entertain children he started writing children's book about a spooky street, which has been v successful. Then came the fun stuff. One of his main characters is a girl mummy, and he got 2 teams of 3 up the front, and 2 people had to wrap the other in toilet paper like a mummy in one minute. What a laugh.

After that was more writing time and I got another 2 chapters revised. Then dinner and socialising. I didn't sleep well and I never do in a strange place.

Sunday we had more writing time, then a talk by Janetta Otter-Barry of Frances Lincoln Books. She talked about what books they do from pre-school to teens, showing us slides of what they were like. She answered questions, and yes she'd like to see middle-grade with magical elements (that was from me). She had lots of her books there, and I bought 4 in the end. I asked her later on if she'd be interested in what I was writing and she said yes. So once I am happy with the first 3 chapters of Allie I will send it to her.
Lunch was next with a nice roast chicken and more writing time and another 2 chapters revised. Not everyone stayed until the end but I did to get more writing done. All in all I got 8 chapters revised over the weekend, and now I need to keep the momentum up. More writing tomorrow I think, well typing up what I've revised anyway.

I had a great time and love the combination of talks, socialising and writing time. It was very productive for me. Thanks Sue.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Writers' Retreat 2011

Last weekend I went to my first Writers' Retreat in a place called Dunford House in W Sussex, in the heart of the country surrouded by woodlands. For those who don't know a retreat is a combination of talks and time to write, and boy I wrote lots.
The first talk was on the Friday evening about marketing headed by Nick Cross. He talked about what marketing is, what marketing you can do and what works. There are two different sorts of marketing: above the line, which is usually tv and radio etc and more generalised and broadcast, and below the line, which is targeted like Twitter, FB, websites. It was said that these two are fast becoming one now.
Next question was how much publicity does a publisher do? Tommy Donbavand said that in his experience if your publisher sees you do most of the legwork to get publicised then they will chip in.
Then it came to media. Youtube is more for teens and your book and video have to be very good to get up to the top ranks, esp if you have a common name. Candy Gourlay said that she feels that websites are better than trailers esp for middle-grade as that age look at websites more.
Then it went onto public appearances. It was mentioned that the school library services are crying out for authors, which you approach through authorities (I might have a look into that although my authority had told me before that I have to approach schools myself). As to visits to other places, people do think that authors are in contest with each other, so like to have authors in panels.
It went back to media again and blogs. It was said that group blogs are the thing now and the way forward, which I like as I belong to a group blog which I submit to. I made a note of a name of one which is all about fantasy. Candy said that her prepublished blog helped her get a publisher, and this was raised later that people out there do look at what you are writing on the web with blogs and websites, so keep it professional (Julie do check spelling here, and sort out your website). You need a creative edge to have voice and be a good author. Make yourself look approachable and interesting. (I made a note here to add a page to my site).
Amazon - review of this, and put that you are 'Author of....'. When your book is out Tweet and FB. Timing is of the essence ast they say.
Platform is the audiene you build before you are published. Your message is echoed, not your sales.
By the end it was 10pm and I was tired out and so ready for my bed.

I shall blog tomorrow about the rest of the retreat.