Saturday, July 28, 2007

Annual Writer’s Holiday

Tomorrow morning, I am going to Caerleon for my annual Writer’s Holiday. As previously mentioned, several times, this is my highlight of the year.

I will have my breakfasts, lunch and dinner made for me and absolutely no washing up (or loading the dishwasher). I get my own little room with my own bathroom and every morning whilst I'm learning how to write at one of the daily workshops, someone comes and makes my bed for me. It is BLISS!

I am planning to work on my children's novel for 9-12 year olds.

For more details about the Caerleon Writer’s Holiday see:

As I said last year, it is the most relaxing, most value for money writer’s conference I have ever been on. I truly recommend it. This is my fifth year of attending.

When I get back I may be able to write up some of the classes, I have attended. These will not necessarily be about writing for children but I am sure they will all be linked to becoming an author in some way.

Oh, and for those of you who are interested here are some photos during the flooding from the front bedroom windows:

The water had just started going down at this point. Look at the colour of the water. Disgusting, isn't it?

For more pictures of the floods near where I live take a look at these flood pictures.

Anyway, I'll see you all on my return.

Meanwhile, why don't you take a look at some of my previous posts and leave me loads and loads of comments.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Agents who accept picture book authors

At the June Professional Series meeting, editor Emma Layfield spoke to us about picture book publishing at Hodder's childnre's Books. One of the most depressing things she told us is, Hodder Books no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts, they only accept picture book submissions through agents.
In my experience however, I have found there are very few agents who accept picture books on their lists. So I asked Emma, which picture book agents does she deal with. Here are a list of agents she told us accept picture books and whom she does frequent business with:
  • Eunice McMullen - Eunice McMullen Literacy Agency
  • Rosemary Canter - PFD
  • Caroline Walsh
  • Eve White
  • Caroline Sheldon - Caroline sheldon Literacy Agency
  • Alice Williams - David Higham
  • Pat White - Rogers, Coleridge & White
  • Catherine Clarke - Felicity Bryan

Full contact details can be found in the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, which by the way, the 2008 issue is due out soon.

If you have found this information useful kindly leave me a message and let me know. If you decide to submit your picture book to any of these agents, I would also be very interested to hear how you get on.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Are you pressing the delete key too often and too quickly?

Pamela Johnson listed some techniques to help when editing your manuscripts:

She said, when re-writing a paragraph cut it and paste it into a new document.

Stephen King talks about the different stages of writing. He says we write too soon with the reader on our shoulder. Write the story as a draft first and then refine it to meet readerships. Only think of the reader in the final stage. In this way you are whittling up.

Remember the thin flat writing are the notes to yourself. The delete key is word doctoring.

If writing is talking on paper try to listen in.

  • What is it I’m trying to say?
  • What is it I can see?
  • What am I trying to show?

Voicing the work comes up through the layers.

You can’t write a book in one sitting just as you can’t edit in one sitting.

Other useful ideas Pamela suggested were:

  • Print off 5000 words and go somewhere else and read it aloud.
  • Highlight all the concrete nouns and verb phrase.
  • How precise can you get your verbs and nouns?
  • Find the active verb.

These techniques will help you to edit and refine your work.

Other useful posts on editing are:

All the best,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Have you set scaffolding or stepping stones?

Now when I look at my notes after this point they seem to stop making sense. I either was getting tired, or had drunk too much of my wine (probably on an empty stomach), or both. However, I thought I would bullet point them anyway with the hope they may make sense to somebody else.

Pamela said: "How can you manage the whole thing without knowing what the whole thing is?"

She suggested:

  • Write the first draft as fast as you can. It can be rubbish. Just keep going. Pamela Johnson estimated she can write 50,000 words in about 10 weeks, which is about 2 hours a day. This also echoes what Jane Wenham-Jones said in her book Wannabe a Writer. See my post: Wannabe a Writer.
  • Put the key scenes in some kind of narrative order with a beginning, middle and an end. Ring binders can help to set up the beginning, middle and end and help so you can move things around.
  • Remind yourself why keep polishing chapter two when you’ve got thirty more chapters to write.
  • What is the plot and how can you find it? Can you find a beginning and middle and an end image?
  • Your story needs a timescale. Draw a timeline. Subplots can create the timeline. This prevents imposing a plot that feels wooden.
  • Decide when the story will start and when it will finish? What happens between the start and finish?
  • Ask questions of your characters and how they feel about things.
  • Structure will get you re-started if you get stuck.
  • Work organically.
  • Set up a mind space.
  • Nothing is set in stone.
  • Link scenes to know where you are going.
All the best in deciphering the above.