Monday, 28 November 2011

SCBWI-BI conference - Part 3

I shall blog about the party, with photos, later on. Here is Sunday, the last exhausting day.
First I went to a talk by 'The Edge' authors. A group of authors who write gritty books. They were Sara Grant, Bryony Pearce, Dave Cousins, Paula Rawsthorne and Miriam Halahmy. They introduced themselves by impersonating each other, which was a laugh as Dave donned a black wig to do Miriam. Photo to come. They answered questions that had been written on their board. Edgy = issue orientated/controversial. Tell with truth and authenticity. Is language worth taking? Important to story. Miriam said you have to be comfortable to write it. You have to be able to stand up for what you've written. Prepared to talk/blog about it. Are there reservations? If you get too passionate, you can forget the story. Story has to drive it. Reader has to connect to the story.
Hooking teen readers - Getting them to pick up the books. It has to be entertaining, thought-provoking, engaging and page-turning. Great story with engaging characters. Teens at heart of story. Reader can engage with character, who can be flawed. Paula likes to develop the characters and says the openers can be grabby.
Swearing/slang - Miriam doesn't use it. Says that hell, and damn it can sound like a sad, old teenager. Do you want to use the words? Use actions to show not using swear words. Slang has to earn its place in book. Cool is OK to use.
Brands - be generic. Eg don't use Nokia, use mobile phone
Sara says she gets completely emotionally involved in her work.
What attracts the panel to teen fiction - Dave: the blurb, front page. If the author is honest, then he reads the whole book. Bryony: by her lifestyle. Paula: likes girls with flaws and who are complex. Miriam: wants to read what she writes. Situation can be in and what to do. Sara: Be moved and in tears. Powerful and think of it when finished.
Do teens feel books are edgy? Sara says no. Miriam says it's not her problem.What teen boys read, she writes. Dave writes what he wants. Maybe find different ways to get them reading. School libraries are good as they have to go there. Sara just wants to get children reading.
Age-range on books - Miriam doesn't like it. Feels that children are different to one another. Bryony: Likes it but not 12+ as some kids might be put off. Likes the content used inside comment.
Then came the question I put on the board and someone asked for me. Do teens read from ereaders? Sara said she did a Skype interview to the US and all the children there had Kindle. Feels that they could be good for teens as they can read things that other people can't see. Hopes that this will come to the UK like US. Dave says his 12 y-o has an iPad. Miriam says that kids might like the privacy.
Then came recommended reads: Miriam - Being Billy by Phil Earle and Bali Rai's Kid Honour (might have title wrong), Paula - Pigeon English by Steve Calman; Bryony = Skin Hunger by K Dury; Dave - Stolen by Lucy Christopher and Sara's is Nothing by J Teller.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

SCBWI-BI Conference - Part 2

Saturday cont...
Then came lunch. I was one of the last in the queue. As I have a dairy intolerance, I was able to go to another queue and I got jacket potato with roasted veg in a tomato sauce. It was really nice.
Then came Anthony McGowan about plots. They have to have a beginning (consequences), a middle (reactions) and an end (what's gone on before with no end). Plot is what happens that is plausibly connected. Then he talked about the freytag pyramid, which he has used once. (I think Laura Atkins has shown this better than I can). He told a true story about him, a dog and a crossbow, and this upset and offended a few of the audience. I know I was a bit shocked with it. Basically you have to ask yourself four questions. Who is the main character? What are they trying to achieve? Who is trying to stop them? What happens if they fail? With characters, they can be more sympathetic and accepting. So being nice and have unreserved suffering - something happening that's not their fault. Achieve - stop baddie, badder the better. Failure - death, real or figuratively. The main character can have a particular feature eg H Potter is an orphan. So his journey can be: is a wanderer, who needs help and skills, find them and becomes warrior. Fights battle with baddie. If he fails, he becomes a martyr, as he has sacrificed himself to help others.
You can change the structure of the story chronologically by inc flashback. Have differeny pov with same action or narrative. Tension - baddie makes life misery. More at stake. Makes better story.
After that was state of the nation panel. There is now a kidsbook review section on the Guardian website. Neil said to approach publishers early with your concept. Use photoshop and work in layers. See the screen/scene. Think outside page spread and papers. Explore narrative ideas that are different than print. The story drives the technology. Tales of the Moon say. Look inside yourself and find something that matters and resonates. Go and speak to local bookshops and ask about events and what best to do. Make yourself known to your local librarian. If they have seen book and like it, will review it, but if don't like it then won't review it. They were asked if digital will affect print? The Kindle is going down in price. Digital has ignited discussions. Important that story continues with different medias.
How can libraries/indie bookshops survive? Indie - ebook sales growth, not huge threat. Library, no. Only if profession doesn't survive. If able to connect with someone passionate about books, then good. Then social media was brought up, esp FB. People want to know what writers do, not publishers. You can use voice of character with this. With Twitter, you can base relationships with people who sell books. Storycloud was mentioned. With digital storytelling, use the community (social media). Think of your connection with your readers.
Libraries buy their books online from superstore of library supplier.
Don't jump on to new trends.
Neil (for illustrators) - Simplicity.
I asked how can someone who has published an ebook do an event. The indie bookshop said that make sure you have facilities to buy book at the end of event. Have technology to show the reader your book for sale. Neil said, he 's done event on how digital can be done. Book place where all forms of books can be seen, and where family can be together. Bookplace can be what to look for.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

SCBWI-BI Conference - Part 1

Last weekend I went to Winchester to the SCBWI-BI Conference, and had a great time meeting others and listening and learning. Friday night was the crit night then the pizza place. I got a lot of comments on Georgina, some good (like the idea of the story) and some not so good (found a bit confusing). It has made me think about what I can change about it, and have decided that maybe I should concentrate more on making the magic tell the story of how chemicals can react with you. Then we all went to the pizza place. 60 of us. I had a good chat about epubbing and my ebook. Donna Vann, who has already bought Angel, said she'd read it, liked it and was surprised how short it was because she wanted more. Yay. I had linguine Bolognese with dough balls - I was hungry by then, and none of the desserts I could eat because they all had milk in. I didn't eat all the Bolognese as it filled me up. Discovered that the place was only a couple of mins walk from my hotel.
Saturday. First was the welcome, then Frank Cottrell-Boyce told us about his writing. Then came a talk by Frank on young fiction. His fave author is E Nesbit, and he read out sections of her ebook The New Treasurers, which was funny. He believes she had an eye for detail, made the world big and mixed magic with reality. Eg when the children were buying the ingredients for a cake, they mentioned the price. He was asked about drama, and he replied it is the gap between who the children they they aren and what they are doing. Think Just William. He said to define the world then put in the details. He was asked about the middle. Make it what's enjoyable and what people want to take out of the story. Was asked about dangerous situations in books. Frank said if children in danger then make it from their pov. If you want a light touch with it, you can do it. He also said that he is insecure about his writing, and doesn't plot his novels, although he used to. It was a great and funny talk.
Then came the Industry Panel. Sarah Odedina who used to work for Bloomsbury but has now set up her own company called Bonnier, who are looking for children's novels. Accepts email submissions of an outline of book and first 2/3 chapters. Likes crossovers. Feels the ms has to have strong narrative. Likes humour, paranormal and ghost. Next was Amber from Orion. She works with author to build profile. No longer accepts unagented mss because they receive too many to do so now. Then Rachel from MacMillan. They print 50 titles a year. Loves YA. Then Sharon Chai, a senior cover designer (can't remember what publisher). The cover has to capture the eye and be intriguing. Websites/blogs etc are important to have. Then was David from Walker. Printing more digital than print n ow. Print books have to be special now to be on shelves. Amber said that the first book not brilliant she won't say goodbye as a client. Work with an author if feel they are a good writer and have merit, as knows that first book isn't always the best one.
All authors are proactive finding authors via competitions, conferences etc.
Rejection isn't bad. Don't lose faith in your book. Keep yourself open to things. One publisher might not like your book, another will. Or the agent might like your writing and want something else from you. Classic themes eg Pooh, is selling well. A good sales figure per year is 10,000 copies a year.
Their 3 top tips are: Sarah - Read as many authors as you can. Don't look at what's selling now to write it. Keep reading your own work and how you speak. Amber: Read. Visit shops etc. Rmember the publisher is on your side and not the only gatekeeper. Sharon: Push yourself. Don't be afraid to ask people about your work. David: Have your own voice. Leave out work you're not sure of. ( the last one was for illustrators).
Will write about the rest of Saturday later on .

Thursday, 17 November 2011

My current wip

I am currently working on an adult romance ebook that has magical elements in. Yep, I just cant resist putting in magic in this one either. I think it brings the humour and fun side out in my writing, and hope readers like it too. This is a first in a series I have planned about a photo of a dead aunt that comes alive to help her relatives in romantic situations. I plan to have sayings in the titles eg the first one I plan to call 'Plenty more fish in the sea.' I have been reading the agony aunt page in my newspaper to get ideas for more stories. I am on track with this one as it is nearly 6000 words, which is ideal for the market I am aiming for. I was going to go indie with this one, like the angel series for teens, but then came the last RNA chapter meeting last month. After the main meeting, one of the members announced that she is planning to open a digital publishing company for romance books and will be after submissions from new authors as well as authors who have got books out of print and want to republish them. One of the items she calls movellas, short stories to go on mobiles and this was where I was interested. I had a chat with her about what I was planning and she said she is interested. So once I have finished the first of the series, I call the Aunt Geraldine series, and have had it edited a few times, I will submit it to my fellow romance writer and publishing founder. Can't wait.
Other news and exciting this is: I have been put on a list with other indie authors to write a story for various anthologies set to be e-published in 2013. I can't wait. I mentioned my USP of magical elements and they liked that idea, so maybe I will be writing a story with magic in it. Hurrah.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

My ebook journey

Sorry I've not been here for a while but have been v busy working on my ebook, and it now out. Here is my story. Once I had finished the story and was happy with it, I then formatted it according to Smashwords Style Guide. I then went onto their website and uploaded it with all the details for it, inc blurb, synopsis, cover etc. Great, it's done I thought. Then I remembered I hadn't assigned it an ISBN no, so back to the site, assign it a number and upload it again. Good, that is that. No, I was wrong. Later that day I suddenlty thought, oh no, I have uploaded the wrong version. I'd put on the unformatted version. So back to Smashwords I went, and put the right one on. Hurrah. That was last Tuesday and you can find it on Smashwords here: I checked all the formats and they are fine. Next stop was Amazon, although you can download to a Kindle from Smashwords. I wanted full exposure of it to everyone.
So yesterday I went on Amazon and followed Freda Lightfoot's guide (thanks Freda), on how to do it. All was going well until I got to uploading the cover. It wouldn't recognise it. I went out of Amazon and when I went into it again a third time, the cover was there. Hurrah. Next was the book file, but I couldn't work out how I could save the prc file which Freda had mentioned. Puzzled, I went away. I came back with an idea - to save the copy I'd downloaded to check the mobi format. It worked. I then went on to put on the price of it, the royalties and all the other stuff they need to know. I have read that it takes 24 hours to go live on the website but it's not on there yet. Shall look again either later today or tomorrow. I am so excited about this. Have been round and about, putting postcards on buses and trains and at events I've been to, advertising my ebook The Railway Angel. Shall be reading more on how I can promote myself online. Watch this space.
I'm now working hard on my next ebook, this one a romance with a touch of magic.