An interview with Julia Patton

Julia PattonIn my last blog post I was delighted to share with you that the very talented Julia Patton is the illustrator for Professor McQuark.  I posed her a few questions and I think you’ll agree that, with her hectic schedule, inspired ideas and appreciation for the silly things in life, she is the Professor McQuark of the illustrative world!

Looking at your Amazon Author Page, you are a very busy woman!  How do you choose your next project?  What drew you to Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip?

It’s true I’m a workaholic! I’m madly in love with my job and my passion for creating children’s picture books makes me skip to my studio each morning. (All of three paces, as my studio is my woodshed in my garden overlooking my vegetable patch!)

I am lucky enough to have a collection of dedicated Bright agents in London and New York who work tirelessly for me, internationally sourcing the newest and hottest authors and publishers to collaborate with. Most weeks a few new jobs pop up! I also source my own new publishers through attending the International Children’s Book fair in Bologna, which I visit each year. It’s a lovely break in the publishing calendar to look forward to during the long hours in the studio. I use this annual opportunity to meet face-to-face with existing international publishers, strengthening those all important relationships. It’s a delight to finally meet someone after 6 moths of daily emails (often at very unsocial hours). Attending the trade fairs is important for me to see the worlds finest publishing houses under one roof. I then can see emerging trends, where my work fits into the market and who is on my next wish list to work with. Very inspiring. Networking with a glass of prosecco is also rather lovely!

Choosing the next project?….rather more difficult than first anticipated. I’d love to say yes to everything, but it’s is impossible. At one intense period I had 6 books on the go simultaneously. As you can imagine this is not sustainable or really giving everyone your best. A freelance creative has to carefully select what works best for them, everyone works differently. I know illustrators who deliberately take weekends off and others that work flexibly around busy families. Unfortunately these decisions usually depend upon timing: what I’m currently working on, what’s lined up for the immediate months and what I have lurking in the not-so-distant-future. Deadlines vary greatly so calculating what I’m capable of achieving to the highest standards has to be estimated. Saying no to any project is very hard. I also specifically put aside time to write and develop my own stories- I have maybe 4/5 ready to pitch, a few in the pea-pod stage and others just scribbles in my sketchbook that require frequent watering to blossom.
Professor McQuark
I was delighted to be offered Professor McQuark from Maverick Publishing as we’d wanted to work together previously  but I’d been too busy unfortunately. Timing. The text was exceptional – if you can visualise each line, word and character on the first read-through you know it’s going to be very special. Exciting, busy and beautifully rhymed! A female professor empowering a new generation of mini-inventors and engineers! YES PLEASE!

How do you come up with a look for your characters?  For example, I love the fact that the Professor has four pairs of glasses!

Character development is important to make each book distinctive, we have to care about our protagonists and this requires creating them with love and attention to detail. A redheaded character can subliminally be seen as the underdog we all secretly champion and we all can imagine what adding copious amounts of freckles to a little boys’ nose can possibly achieve!!! Professor McQuark is so clever and busy that she’d obviously require numerous spectacles and it was also a reference to my childhood hero, Professor Branestawm, who had multiple glasses too.

The level of detail in the illustrations is amazing!  Were you a Richard Scarry fan when you were younger?  Who inspired you?

I believe my role aScience fair walking chairs an illustrator is to illuminate words, suggest the magical and interpret the unspoken. A good illustrator can capture the imagination and hearts of not only the audience, but visually interpret the emotions of characters and the adventures they explore. We have the tangible tools of colour, tone, texture and composition at our disposal and the responsibility to capture audible drama, anticipation, and physical emotions. The pause that a ‘page-turn’ gives offers an illustrator infinite possibilities. I love the idea that nothing is impossible to render and breathe life into. It can be quite an overwhelming responsibility and challenge sometimes. Professor McQuark was an amalgamating of many of my historical visual influences: Lego manuals I poured over for hours, and my beloved Richard Scarry (whose books I read as regularly now as in my infant years). Not forgetting Heath Robinson. Many days have been lost in delight fanatically deliberating how his contraptions were created. I loved discovering a 1912 dictionary definition of ‘Heath Robinson-esque’ as an “Absurdly ingenious and impracticable device” Even my children’s love of Wallace and Gromit is a modern embodiment of the same theme. A perfect partnership for Professor McQuark I thought!

I love the Science Fair page with all the wacky inventions you have come up with.  What is your favourite illustration or spread in the book?

I really Science fair parrot interpreterlove diagrams. All those dotted lines, numerical influences, keys explaining odd symbols has me giddy with excitement. Combined with all those Heath Robinson and Richard Scary influences, the science page was a sheer delight. Your description of each object was delicious, just enough to give me a spring-board and leaving just enough to the imagination to create the sublime and the ridiculous. You can never underestimate how magical something ‘plain silly’ can be. The science fair page took me almost 2 weeks to create. I loved every second. I’d really like the ‘parrot-interpreter-radio’ to be achievable please – I imagine macaws are just hilarious company.

And finally… Your latest publication is the Children in Need celebrity co-authored book, The Curious Tale of Fi-Rex.  I have to ask: did you get to meet any of the celebrities?  Who came up with the best page?

This new book is raising vital funds for the BBC Children In Need charity which is very close to my heart. It was a huge privilege to be a part of. Fi-Rex is a collaboration between some of the finest sportsmen, musicians and creatives in contemporary society. A bonkers story based around a traditional game of ‘consequences’ which concludes happily I can report! The launch party was really quite marvellous, attended by many famous faces. Trying to give a sense of consistency to so many voices within one book what a delightful challenge. (Between you and I, Bear Grylls’ page was the most atmospheric and tension building – this was my favourite. Shhhhhh!)

Thank you Julia!  We will let you return to your woodshed where no doubt new and amazing illustrations are impatient to burst forth!

Julia’s Amazon author page

My publishing journey – the illustration process

Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip

It’s an actual Professor McQuark illustration by Julia Patton! I love it!

Probably the most exciting part about getting a picture book accepted is seeing the illustrations.  More than any other book, a picture book has to grab the reader’s attention from the very first glance, so the illustrations really are the most important part of the package.  I can appreciate much more now why most publishers ask for text only.  They may have illustrators they are waiting to work with, they have their own house style to pursue, they have access to agencies with hundreds of artists… in short, they are much better placed to make a decision about an illustrator than you are.  The exception is if you are an author-illustrator (a rare but amazing breed!) or an already established partnership such as Hedgehugs‘ Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper (husband and wife as well as writer and illustrator).  Having an illustrator chosen for you also gives you a wonderful chance to see your book elevated to another level, as your illustrator brings a whole new level of interest and fun to your text.  This has certainly been the case with the illustrator my publishers, Maverick, have selected for Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip: the amazingly inventive Julia Patton.

Normally Maverick will select perhaps three artists and ask for sample spreads before comparing them and selecting their favourite.  The author is consulted as part of the decision but is not in charge of making the final choice.  In this case, however, they were keen to work with Julia and knew she would be the perfect choice for a book about wacky inventions.  I only had to look at her sample spread to instantly agree!

The next time the author will see illustrations is usually when pencil-drawn drafts are produced for each spread, to give a rough idea of how the finished book will look.  There is an opportunity for input but again the editor and artist will be making the main decisions.  After the pencil stage, it’s time to sit back and try not to fidget too much while the artist puts in the hard graft.  As I mentioned in my previous post about promotion, this is a good time to do those pre-publication jobs such as creating a website and Facebook page.  When the finished drawings come in and you have picked yourself off the floor in amazement and awe, there is a chance for some typo-hunting, as by now the text will have been laid out on the pages by the editor.  At this stage you may get a digital copy, which isn’t actually a virtual book but the real thing.  It’s just not the actual book yet.  Yes, I don’t understand either.  One last check and then it’s off to be printed for real, a process which takes three long months.  Time to get very excited indeed!

In my next post I’ll be interviewing Julia Patton about inventions, inspiration and interpretation via parrot.  Back soon!

My publishing journey – how to promote your book

As promised, here’s another update on my journey to publication.  Really I should be talking about the illustration process, but as that’s still happening (and very exciting it is too), I’ll write another post about that when I can give you… wait for it… the whole picture.  Sorry about that.

With five or six months to go before publication day and not much that I can contribute to the text at this time, it’s a good time to start thinking about promotion.  Fortunately my publisher Maverick held an author’s day last week where we discussed that exact topic.  The timing could not have been better, and I’m now buzzing with ideas of how I can promote my book.  So here are the main points I picked up.  I hope they’re useful to you too.

  • No one can force you to go out there and promote your book, but it helps a huge amount.    The publisher will promote you using social media, press releases, presentations to buyers etc, but only you can produce the author in person. You have nothing to lose but some spare time and possibly your dignity.
  • There are basically four types of author visits you can do: library visits, school visits, bookshop visits and events.
  • Libraries are very welcoming to authors.  Library visits are likely to be around an hour and may consist of a reading, a short activity and book signing.  You should be able to sell copies of your book directly to the public.  Also check with the library that they do actually have your book for loan.  If not, prompt them!  Summer holidays are a good time for parents looking for activities.
  • Be brave and walk into your local bookshop.  Introduce yourself and ask if you could come and do a book signing session.  This is often a good way to get your books into bookshops that wouldn’t normally stock you.  For example, Waterstones only order centrally but they are allowed to support local authors.  The bookshop will then order in stock from the wholesalers (Betrams and Gardners are the two big companies). Be proactive and offer an activity or a reading rather than just a ‘buy my book’ approach.  Mention the visit to local press and radio beforehand.
  • You can contact local primary schools directly by emailing their Literary or Key Stage One leader.  Make it easy for them by providing e-posters and flyers.  You can also include a form that allows parents to pre-order signed copies of the book, to be collected on the day.  The school should have a budget for author visits and you will be expected to charge.  You can find guidelines on how much at the Society of Authors website.  They also have a useful pdf about author visits.  You no longer need to be CRB checked (these days DBS checked) to visit schools as long as there is a teacher in the classroom at all times.  However you will probably find that having an up-to-date DBS check makes your approach look more professional.  And it’s very useful to have a teacher present at all times anyway!  You can get a DBS check and insurance through the National Association of Writers in Education at
  • Events can range from school fetes to county fairs to literary festivals and radio station visits.  Think laterally and try to find a connection between your book and the local area or event. You can buy copies of your own book at a good discount and resell them.  Add value by signing and personalising the books.
  • There are various directories of authors you can join if you want to be contacted about a visit, such as
  • When you’ve read your book out, what else can you do to keep your young listeners entertained?  Thanks to author Alex English for sharing this resource on 103 things to do after reading a picture book.  And don’t be desk bound – children love songs, rhymes, games and dressing up, so think about the content of your book and how you can transfer this into some educational playtime!

Right, I’m off to buy a lab coat, four pairs of glasses and a big bag of props.  Author visits may be nerve-wracking but they sound like they can be a lot of fun, too!

Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip will be published by Maverick Books in January 2016.

And the winner is…

Thank you to everyone who entered the critique giveaway.  It was so interesting to read about everyone’s work.  The winner has today been chosen at random from the woolly hat and it is (fanfare)…


Rose, please email me your story at lou dot treleaven at sky dot com.  I can’t wait to read it and give you my feedback.

critique draw

Meanwhile, I promised to keep you up to date with the publishing journey of Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip.  After acceptance (hurrah!), the next stage has been editing, which took the form of emails from and to my editor, plus the input of an external freelance editor.  This has been really interesting and a great learning process.

The first job was to cut several verses which was a little painful but I could instantly see improvements.  Apparently in a picture book the less words you can use the better.  The words that make the final cut have to work so much harder that they become exactly the right words for the job.

Next to be picked up were inconsistencies and unnecessary areas of the plot.  Yes, even a picture book has a plot – it needs a clear beginning, middle and end. The beginning has to jump straight into the action, the middle needs to be absorbing, and if the end can be a bang, a snort of laughter or a giggle of happiness then so much the better.

One issue I always struggle with is finding the right words for the target age group, and there were a few words that needed changing.  When you’re writing rhyme, changing one word is not that simple – it can mean rewriting the entire verse.  A fun challenge! After two or three rounds of editing, my editor was happy and I was very happy.  I could see the improvements straight away.  In fact the text is so much better than before that frankly I can’t understand why it was even picked it off the slushpile in that state in the first place!

The next stage is the really, really exciting one – illlustrations.  I will blog about that in my next post. Here is a summary of what I have learned so far during the editing process.

  1. Although most publishers specify a maximum of 1000 words for picture books, there’s a magic number to aim for if you can – under 500.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but too many words on a page can spoil the layout, overwhelm the illustrations and put a child off the book.
  2. You can spend a day deciding on the right word.   Luckily you can be doing the washing up at the same time.
  3. My publisher (hurrah!) favours 13 double page spreads.  Not every picture book is that length (some are more), but if in doubt it’s a useful guideline.  That means if your book is a rhyming one, 13 4-line stanzas would be a good maximum to aim for.
  4. Be prepared to lose a lot of your manuscript in the editing process.  You will benefit from it.  It’s like polishing a stone and getting all the rough edges off.
  5. Even a picture book needs to have a plot.  If it’s rhyming, try to step away from the ‘poem’ concept and make sure you are telling a story.
  6. It’s easy to sacrifice meaning and or sense for the sake of a good rhyme.  I’ve realised I do it all the time.  I need to make the rhyme serve my story, not the other way around.
  7. Every word is important and has a job to do.  You could say writing is making sure the right word does the right job at the right time.

Enjoy your writing and keep submitting!

David Fickling Books submission window coming up!

I was delighted to read in a Writing Magazine tweet this week that the publisher David Fickling Books – until recently featured on my list of publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts – is opening its doors to unagented writers for two weeks in May, and it looks like this could be a regular occurrence.

The submissions window is taking the form of a competition called ‘Master of the Inkpot’ (shades of Terry Pratchett or JK Rowling there). Every submission will be read and a shortlist drawn up. The top five will be featured on the website and the winner invited in with a view to publication.

Guidelines for entry are very exact so check and double check the requirements. Picture book submissions should, unusually, include illustrations. Any reading age is considered including adult. And luckily for me, they are happy to reconsider material previously sent if it has been reworked (I’m always reworking!).

This is a great opportunity to submit to a well respected, high quality publishing house who aren’t asking for a competition entry fee. So let’s make them glad they asked us. Good luck, everyone!

1000 followers – a special thank you present from me

Today I reached a milestone for this blog – 1000 followers!  I’m so pleased to have reached such a wide audience.  I’ve also been loving hearing the recent success stories some of you have been having with your manuscripts – some mentioned on this blog already, others to come over the next few months.  We all know what a difficult and frustrating journey it can be, and to hear that publishers are still keen to accept new authors is heartwarming indeed.

1000 followers giveawayTo celebrate I’d like to offer you a present.  We all know how hard it is to get a second opinion on your work.  Scrub that – an honest and useful second opinion.  Family are lovely but will always say it’s ‘good’, even if you give them a pencil and ask them to scrub out whole chapters.  Some writers swear by having a ‘beta reader’ – someone to go through an early draft and give them a useful critique before they start submitting.  I have recently started doing this with two other playwrights for the short plays I’m working on and I feel it has improved my work hugely, as well as decreasing the sense of writing ‘in a vacuum’.  You can find willing beta readers in writers’ groups, online forums, social media groups, or sites where you post work up for others to critique and repay them the favour, such as Authonomy.

Or – as a thank you for being such a lovely follower – you can simply post a comment below and I will pick one out of a hat for a free writer-to-writer critique.  (A nice, encouraging one, not a tearing-you-to-shreds one, delivered in confidence by email, not published on the blog.)

It could be for a work in progress, something you are preparing for submission, or something you are already sending out but would like some feedback on from a fellow author.  All I ask is that it’s under 50,000 words.  For very short works like picture books I’d be happy to look at three.

Feel free to talk about your manuscript in your comment, or if you want to play your cards close to your chest then that’s fine as well, just make a remark so I know you’re in the draw.  After a month I will print out this page, cut the comments into strips, put them in a hat and ask one of my children to pull one out, then the winner can email me their work.

Good luck and I look forward to reading your manuscript!

My publishing journey has begun…

I am so happy to tell you that a picture book I submitted to Maverick Books has made its way up through the slush pile and has been accepted for publication!  You will know that this is a dream come true for me and I am still afraid I will suddenly walk into an exam hall without my trousers on and realise it is a dream and I have to retake my physics O level instead.

I sent the manuscript at the end of April 2014 but I knew there was a big backlog and Maverick was my first choice so I decided to wait and concentrate on other material.  I have a lot of manuscripts of different age ranges and genres all whizzing about at once!  Then at the beginning of February I received an email asking if the manuscript was still available and for more information about myself.  Funnily enough Maverick had already heard of me due to the number of click-throughs coming to their site through the list of publishers on this blog!  I was thrilled to hear they were interested but tried not to get too excited as I have been at this stage so many times before.  The next email invited me to visit their offices in Horsham.  It was a two-hour drive but nothing was going to stop me!

It was very interesting seeing inside a publisher’s office and I learned a lot about the process as we talked about how a picture book was put together and how Maverick works.  Although it is a small team they have big ambitions and really high standards.  They also like to work closely with their authors and get them involved in editorial meetings, which sounded great.  Contracts were mentioned, hands were shaken and I left the meeting walking on air and hoping I wouldn’t crash the car on the way home!

Putting together a picture book is a lengthy process, so I won’t see Professor McQuark come to life fully until 2016.  But there is the editorial process to enjoy, plus the excitement of seeing sample illustrations from three different illustrators before a final style is selected to suit the Professor and her amazing inventions.  I think that’s what I’m looking forward to seeing most of all.

I’ll keep you up to date with my publishing journey as it happens.  But for now, keep submitting, keep writing – you never know what might happen!

Interview with Penguin Ireland’s Claire Hennessy

Thank you to everyone who suggested questions for Claire Hennessy, children’s author, writing teacher and Penguin Ireland children’s editor.  And thank you Claire for sparing the time to talk to us in between your many commitments!  (Where appropriate I have removed specifics in the questions to make the answers relevant to everyone rather than just the individual concerned.)

Seeds of Liberty by Claire Hennessy

Is Penguin Ireland is open to submissions from across the UK or does it just focus on the Irish market?  How about overseas authors, eg Australia?

We get submissions from all over the place but as Penguin (now Penguin Random House!) is international it’s probably best to approach the division closest/most relevant to where you live.

It is unusual for a big publisher to have an open submission policy.  What are your reasons for this – and are you swamped?!

A little swamped! But in a great way. The publishing scene in Ireland is slightly different to the UK, in that most Irish publishers will deal directly with writers rather than having an agent be almost-essential. Combine that with it being a small country with a huge amount of creative talent – open submissions mean that lack of an agent doesn’t stand in the way. Though there are submissions from agents too, of course.

What word counts are you looking for in the different age ranges?

There’s a really good post here from American literary agent Jennifer Laughran which is worth looking at:

Generally once something is within the rough parameters of its age group, it’s fine. If it seems not to match up, there are usually other problems with the manuscript in terms of being a fit for the age and genre.

Do you publish fantasy and science fiction?

Currently open to everything (if it’s good!).

Do you accept books that have already been self published?

Never say never. But they’re very tricky. It’s best to submit something new, and include any relevant details (sales figures, etc) about your self-published work.

What information do you like to see in a covering letter?

Basically what it says in the submissions guidelines ( Shorter is better. A brief summary of the book – including a word count – and then anything relevant about the writer (e.g. previous writing or other creative experience, bookselling experience, etc). Did I mention shorter is better?

Every Summer by Claire HennessyIn your opinion, is it worthwhile spending money on professional editing services before submitting to agents or publishers, to make a book the best it can be?

It’s definitely worthwhile investing time and energy and (if possible) money into your manuscript and into your writing career, in the same way you would with anything else. That might be working with an editor at a literary consultancy, which, although it can seem pricy, can really help someone view their manuscript differently and also teach them how to edit their own work (current and future) more effectively. Or it might be taking writing workshops, or joining writers’ groups – anything that helps them move past their early drafts and really polish up their work so that it’s as good as it can be. It’s really difficult to learn how to edit your own work – we’re not trained for it in school; it’s a much bigger and more dramatic and often more exciting and creative process than we imagine it might be – but it’s also crucial. Editors and agents are looking for work that is as good as you can make it – and then to work with you to make that as good as you can both make it. ‘Writing is rewriting’ as they say.

What are your views on picture book apps?  Do you think they have a future?  Should picture book writers be writing for this new market?

Picture books are not something I’m handling at the moment but I would agree with the sense that apps need to complement books, and do something different to them, rather than replace them. It’s a different medium. Picture books are still gorgeous physical objects which both parents and kids appreciate.

Would you recommend joining a writers group?  Friends and family, although wonderful, can be too kind. Can you recommend any other way to get honest feedback?

Writers’ groups (which includes online writers’ groups too) can be terrific but the quality varies hugely. You need to ensure that the other writers are at roughly the same level you’re at – e.g. have been writing for a certain amount of time, and also are taking it as seriously as you are – and that they’re prepared to give constructive feedback rather than just telling you what they think you want to hear. Adding new members every so often can also help in terms of keeping things fresh.

If you have friends who are writers, it can be useful to get feedback from them too – but I think it does need to be a reciprocal arrangement and something where you both understand that non-glowing feedback isn’t something that’s going to destroy a friendship.

Non-writer friends and family are to be avoided – too much else going on in those relationships!

With the advent of technology, smart phones and kindles, what is the best piece of advice you can give to a beginner?

Use them! For example: if you’re on your phone the whole time – make notes about your story or your surroundings or an idea you’ve just had, rather than scrolling through Facebook. (And it looks less awkward than pulling out a notebook to scribble down your ideas.) But also: don’t let them distract you too much. There’s a lot of publishing information out there online, which is easily accessible, and brilliant (when I started researching publishing in the ‘90s things were a bit different), but it can distract you from the absolute most important things when it comes to writing: thinking, reading, writing (repeat as needed).

You were first published while still a teenager.  Why do you think there aren’t more books for teens written by teens?

I think there are plenty, actually! I’m currently reading ‘Falling Into Place’ by Amy Zhang, which was written when she was a teen; next up is Alice Oseman’s ‘Solitaire’. Beth Reekles is also terribly young… and then there are American writers like Hannah Moskowitz and Kody Keplinger who are now in their 20s but were first published as teenagers. Not to mention S.E. Hinton of ‘The Outsiders’ fame (1967) who wrote that as a teen. And Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, the American YA horror writer… and Christopher Paolini… and Catherine Webb…

There are definitely teen writers out there but, as with older writers, there are more people submitting manuscripts than getting published. Teens are also, by virtue of their age, more towards the start of their careers, and your chances increase the more you write and the longer you’ve been at it.

When you were in the age group for which you now write, who were your favourite authors (apart from yourself!)?

Oh so many, many of whom are still my favourites – Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, Judy Blume, Paula Danziger, J.K. Rowling, Ann M Martin, Madeleine L’Engle, Jacqueline Wilson.

As a writer, how do you recognise which ideas to ditch and which to run with?

I write down all the ideas so that they’re always there – because sometimes even if they don’t work on their own, or now, they’ll work in the future if combined with something else.

Novels require a whole bunch of different, linked ideas, not just one thing, so I tend to wait until I feel like I have enough ‘stuff’, enough material, to sustain an entire book. That’s usually several pages of notes and scribblings, to be added to as I start writing and more ideas come to me. Once I’m at that stage the challenge isn’t so much ideas as it is the motivation and discipline that comes with any long-term project.

You can keep up with Claire at and follow her on Twitter at @clairehennessy


Send me your questions for Claire Hennessy, children’s editor at Penguin Ireland

I’m delighted to say I will be interviewing the children’s editor at Penguin Ireland, Claire Hennessy, in the next couple of weeks.   As some of you may have read on my Twitter feed, Penguin Ireland are accepting unsolicited children’s and YA manuscripts.  With that in mind I thought it would be nice to get some questions together from all of us rather than just me, so if you’d like to send a question, please put it in the comments section below, or if you prefer to be all mysterious and anonymous (perfectly all right if you do), you can email me your question at

Claire is also the author of ten young adult novels and a historical children’s novel, plus she teaches creative writing, so I’m sure she won’t mind if questions veer on to general writing advice as well as Penguin.

Claire’s website is at and the submission guidelines for Penguin Ireland children’s books are here.

‘Autumn days when the grass is jewelled…’

The summer holidays are over and it’s back to work.  For some of us this means more lovely writing time, for others less – depending on whether you have children in the house!  I love this time of year as it always feels like a fresh start.  New pens, writing pads, writing courses, new ambitions and opportunities – just like the first day of term.  At last I’ve had time to catch up on some of the questions in the comment boxes of my posts, and I do apologise to those of you who have had to wait for a reply.  I’ve tried to answer as best I can, but please remember I’m not an expert in the publishing world, just someone who likes to find out information and share it as I go.  So you can take what I say on board or you can feel free to scoff at my suggestions and walk away laughing with derision.

And now here’s some exciting news to keep everyone’s morale up: follower of this blog Gabrielle Kent has just signed a three book deal with Scholastic for her ‘Alfie Bloom’ adventure series.  She is signed with the Ben Illis Agency.  I met Ben at the Winchester Writers’ Conference and was really impressed with his enthusiasm and commitment to nuturing talent.  As an expert in the gaming industry, I’m sure Gabrielle is going to be an exciting and appealing author for today’s young readers.  You can read an excerpt from ‘Alfie Bloom: the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle’ here.

As for myself, besides submitting several books I have some short plays coming up over the next few weeks.  ‘Let’s Play Deception’ will be on at the Playground new writing night from Ghost Dog Productions at the Horse and Stables in London on 22-24 September, ‘Mr Robinson’s Blood Test’ will be in Pint Sized Plays in Tenby in October, and ‘Warm, Hot, Getting Hotter’ will be a rehearsed reading by the Attic Theatre Company at Playfest 2014 at Wimbledon Library on 11-12 October.  I hope to see at least two of these and will try very hard not to laugh at my own jokes (a habit which makes me look terribly self-indulgent and self-congratulatory – perhaps I am finally becoming a luvvie due to sudden exposure to the theatrical world).