Monday, January 31, 2011

What are you afraid of?

Today I read a post by the amazing Teresa Ashby on her blog, A Likely Story. She compares her initial reactions to a rejection letter and then explains what it really means. Read her post at: What do rejection letters really mean?

When I was submitting short stories to the women's national magazines, Teresa use to astound me by how many she wrote and got published. I'd never have believed she got a rejection letter if I hadn't have read it for myself. I honestly thought every story she wrote was so brilliant it automatically got published.

Now, I had a little success in getting my stories published in these national magazines but, came to a grinding halt when I realised all the stories I got in were about people dying in car crashes. Hmmmm! Weird! Talk about writing out the pain. I had quite a few rejection letters for my short stories and use to keep them all in a big blue ring-binder. My wonderful friend Lynne Hackles has told me to throw this file away as it is bad karma. But, I am unable to part with it and I've hidden it in my library in the attic. My reaction to these rejection letters was exactly as Teresa described. Almost word-to-word!

I have had less rejections for my children's writing but the statistics have been manipulated - partly because most of it has been commissioned and partly because I work on the theory you can't get rejected if you don't send it out.

Anyway, Teresa has helped me a little. Maybe I will dust off my children's fiction and start sending it to publishers and maybe I will think about it for a little bit.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egmont UK

Yesterday, I went to the first of the SCBWI Professional Series events. I’ve signed up to the whole series, partly because the speakers this year all look amazing and I wouldn’t want to miss them and partly because I get to see all my friends for the first time this year. As you can imagine, I was very excited. I don’t think I stopped talking all evening.

It was an amazing event. Ali Dougal and Peter Marley from Egmont came to speak to us about what they were looking for and the Egmont submission process. Where else could you get this first-hand knowledge? Egmont is the biggest children’s publisher in the UK and one of the only ones left that will still accept unsolicited manuscripts. You can send your manuscripts to:

For more on what they are looking for and the submission process read my post at:

I took my camera along to take a picture especially for my blog. I even sat In the front row so I would not have the backs of people’s heads in my photo. But... I forgot to take the picture. So, I am posting one of the covers for my new series of books due out in March this year instead. It was either that or another picture of me.

I think you will all agree this book cover is well worth looking at ;) and there have been way too many photos of me posted for one month all ready. I suppose I could have posted another picture of Steve Cole or Sarah McIntyre at the Just Imagine event and I would have done if they could balance on one hand and do the splits. :D

Anyway, I thought it was very interesting Egmont is expanding their digital list. Nationwide digital is growing and the number of products available on the market is increasing slowly but will soon explode. It is an area to be aware of. In 2009, they launched Flips for the Nintendo DS, which is an enhanced e-book. In 2010, they launched a standard e-book list of classic titles. Everything brand new at Egmont will be published in e-book and traditional format. This was an eye-opener.

In late 2010, they launched their first picture book app, Charlie Stinky Socks for the i-pad. It displays pictures, narration, animation and interactivity. It is a financial investment but, they do not know how many they will sell. It is early days yet.

The Bookseller did a survey about people’s opinions on e-books. They reckon Digital may "overtake" print sales by 2014.

For a much more detailed write-up on the event see: Tina Lemon’s –  A Novel Way.

Monday, January 24, 2011

An Interview with Anita Loughrey

Doesn't that sound cool! Yes, I did a real interview and it's on the World Wide Web for everyone to read.

I've never been interviewed before. It was rather fun and made me realise what I put other authors through when I interview them for my column in Writers' Forum. LOL!

You can read the interview on Tracy Ann Baines' fantastic blog: Tall Tales and Short Stories. Tracy interviews loads and loads of famous writers who have won millions of prestigous awards. It feels kind of grand to have my name included with them.

The timetabling idea started after I did Simon Whaley's fantastic time-management course at the Caerleon Writers' Holiday. It was all about how to be a productive writer. It must be working because I wrote 17 books last year. Thank you Simon.

Anyway, here is the link to the interview: Writing Non-Fiction for Children: An Interview with Anita Loughrey.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cat Protection Insurance

Cat Protection Insurance? I bet you are wondering what on Earth I am talking about?

Well, yesterday I think I must have had cotton wool in my ears. I went to the Educational Writers' Group January Forum at the Society of Authors, where we discussed issues to do with contracts.

Lots of interesting things were discussed in particular, copyright clauses and warranty and idemnity.

We were advised to send our contracts in to be checked by the Society of Authors, even if we have worked for that particular publisher before, as publishers are creeping in changes to the contracts and if you are not careful you may end up signing your copyright away. I found out it is illegal to get rights outright in France and Germany. So how come it is not illegal in the UK?

Many people also have problems getting their rights back after books have gone out of print. Publishers can keep a book 'in print' by holding back tiny numbers, or by providing Print On Demand. They will digitise a copy so they have a book in place but it prevents authors reclaiming copyright.

A lot of very worrying and scary stories were told about warranty and indemnity clauses and how some educational writers had been caught out with this. Even an alleged breach may mean you are liable to pay. It was recommended that this clause be removed from contracts. I also learnt it is possible to take out Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance with the NUJ if you are a member.

The Society of Authors do there own Professional Indemnity Insurance but you have to log in to their members area to view it. The cost is about £350pa.

That is not the only insurance the Society of Authors do though. They also do a Tax Protection Insurance, which has nothing to do with cats what-so-ever.

So whilst you are looking at these and the other benefits of membership, why not check out my page at the Society of Authors.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What a Fun and Busy Weekend!

I am totally shattered. I have had such a fun and busy weekend.

On the Saturday, I went with my family to the Grand Opening of the Just Imagine Story Centre in Chelmsford. We had to get up very early and leave the house at 8am. This is an achievement in itself for me on a weekend.

The Just Imagine Story Centre is the initiative of Nikki Gamble. I have written reviews for Nikki's Write Away website for many years. She told me that her dream of  a Story Centre would never have happened with out her lovely Dad. Here is a picture of Nikki and her Dad:

Just Imagine is a place for sharing stories which will have lots of author, illustrator and story-telling events and will sell books too. On Saturday, Steve Cole, bestselling writer of the Astrosaurs, Cows in Action and Slime Squad series, teamed up with the amazingly talented, Sarah McIntyre, the equally energetic, illustrator and designer of the Just Imagine logo. Sarah cut the ribbon and officially opened the centre's doors to the public at 11am.

There was face-painting and story readings and we made monsters. Even I made one. Joe won the competition for one of the best monsters. It was called Pom Pom and had Eyebrows of Hell, which I don't think are in the picture. I have a sneaky feeling he meant eye lashes. :)

Some of the monsters are going to be made into transfers to decorate the walls of the story centre. It was all go. Joe had his picture taken with Sarah McIntyre:

And the Gruffalo:

Dan had his picture taken with Steve Cole:

It was a fantastic day out. You can find out more about the story centre on Facebook at: Just Imagine Story Centre.

Then, on the Sunday, we had Joe's Birthday party at the soft play area JJ's, in Basingstoke. His Birthday was in the Christmas holidays, so it was a belated birthday party for him and his friends. I've decided next year we are only inviting girls. Boys are a bit yucky - all they do is burp really loud, make farty noises (some of them very smelly!) put ketchup in their ice cream and wear their jeans so low, they show their pants!!! Girls are much nicer.

But, it was a great weekend and we all had a FUN time, especially me - who was probably one of the biggest kids of all.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ten Minutes is a Lifetime!


BT are upgrading their network in my area on the 12th January 2011. That's the day after tomorrow! During this time I will lose my broadband and phone connection for up to ten minutes.

Ten whole minutes without the Internet. My life is over!

OK. I can understand upgrading my broadband may be beneficial but, why do they have to turn off my Internet to do it? More to the point, why couldn't they do it whilst I am sleeping?

What am I going to do without any Internet connection for ten whole minutes?

'More work,' I hear you say.

But, that is beside the point! And to make it worse they go on to say:

'For the first ten days or so after your upgrade, your broadband might slow down or even stop now and again. That's normal and your speed will soon settle down.'
What's that supposed to mean? It doesn't sound good. That's an infinite amount of minutes without my broadband.

The only consolation is they suggest I can help by using my Broadband as much as possible during these first ten days. Obviously, that means I have to go on Facebook more often.

Oh dear, the things I have to do to help people.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year everyone. I hope your 2011 has started well.

I told myself I will start the year as I plan to go on.  But, then I started sniffling and coughing - my throat is sore, my head is pounding and my neck aches. My chest hurts when I breath, which probably means I need to take my inhaler and I am running out of tissues. My nose is all peely (is that a word?) and my lips are cracked. Moan! Moan! Moan! Did I mention the headache?

So I have decided, I don't want my year to continue the way it has started after all. Hopefully, things will only get better. But, I may be going for the best 'Drama Queen' Oscar. Can I ham it up anymore? Yes, I think I can! Cough! Cough! Cough!

However, there's something I've been meaning to tell you all, which I hadn't got around to yet. I wanted to tell you about...

...the great new book by Jane Wenham-Jones. It's called Wannabe A Writer We've Heard Of? and is the sequel to Wannabe a Writer?
The blurb on the back of the book says it is,

'An essential read for every author, whether established or debut, self-published or still dreaming of limelight.'

That's me - still dreaming of the limelight - the day I have my own book launch that is not just a virtual one. OK! Time to stop day-dreaming and finish blogging.

Quite frankly, I think it's brilliant and not only because there's a photograph of me in it. I won't tell you what page I'm on. You'll have to buy the book to find out.J

It is all about what happens after your book is accepted to be published - the countdown, publicity, networking and using the Internet to market yourself. There are words of wisdom not only from Jane but, also from a whole range of famous writers, literary agents and publishers. It is full of common sense and I'm pleased I bought myself a copy. I must remember to take it with me to Caerleon in July to get it signed.