Writing rhyming picture books that scan

I’ve been asked a number of times to explain scanning in rhyming picture books, so I’d thought I’d share this recent emailed explanation in the hope that it helps.  Scanning, or scansion, is for some people an instinctive skill, while others need to give it more thought.  Basically if you regard your rhyming picture book text as lyrics for a song, or more specifically one verse that repeats over and over, you have the gist of it.  It’s worth remembering that Julia Donaldson was a lyricist before she was an author – no wonder her picture book texts are so rhythmic.

If you were given a popular song and asked to rewrite the lyrics, you would have to make sure that every syllable matched a note.  In the same why, when writing you are trying to fit words into the same sort of tight pattern.  Let’s say your chosen rhythm is De DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM.

So your verse without words would be

De DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM.
De DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM.
De DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM.
De DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM.

Catchy, isn’t it?  Now imagine putting the words to that, eg off the top of my head:

A lonely mouse came out one day
And asked an elephant to play.
The elephant said, ‘Not just now.
I have a playdate with a cow.’

The reason this fits is that (a) every syllable fits on to a de or a DUM and (b) every stressed syllable is on a DUM and every unstressed syllable is on a de.

An example of (a) every syllable fits

if the first line was ‘A tortoise came out one day’ it wouldn’t work as there’s a missing syllable after tortoise so we have to leave a pause when we read it aloud to get it to fit. The reader won’t know about this pause. Your aim is to make your text ‘first read proof’ so even if the reader has no idea what the rhythm is it will still be there. What about a longer word? If I wrote ‘A hippopotamus came out one day’ I have gone well over the amount of syllables I have for that line. In fact to make it fit I would have to change it more substantially.  ‘A hippopotamus one day…’ would work , but then the next line would have to be changed as well to make sense.

An example of (b) every stress fits

If we tried to use ‘alert mouse’ instead of ‘lonely mouse’, it doesn’t work because the stress on this word needs to be on the first syllable in order to fall on DUM in the rhythm, as in lonely, not the second syllable, as in alert.

Here’s the verse again with the stressed syllables shown in bold:

A lonely mouse came out one day
And asked an elephant to play.
The elephant said, ‘Not just now.
I have a playdate with a cow.

The words have to fit the rhythm to create the correct scansion so you need to pick your words carefully; you can’t force them in or change the way they are stressed because it just won’t work. It either fits or it doesn’t – rather like doing a word puzzle. The difference is that you create the framework yourself, but you then need to stick to it throughout.

A good way to test your text is to get someone else to read it through aloud without reading it beforehand.  Does the rhythm hold?  Are there any pauses, hesitations or rushed parts?  Is the rhythm clear?  Can you clap along to it?  You can try the clapping bit without anyone else to help.  Establish  the rhythm you need with your hands acting as a metronome and then start reading.  Good luck!

For more help with writing, why not try my critique service or join my next online picture book writing course?

 

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September Picture Book Writing Course

Fancy a new challenge this autumn?  My next online picture book writing course starts on 4 September, and there are still some places left.

“Your course is the first one I have taken and I have learned so much over the 6 weeks’ duration.  I now know exactly where I have been going wrong all these years.  It has now given me confidence to start submitting stories again.”  S Stokes, May 2019 course student

WRITING PICTURE BOOKS WITH LOU TRELEAVEN

A 6 week course starting on 4 September 2019

Price: £150

Objective

To research the market and practise picture book writing techniques in order to create an edited draft of a picture book.

Outline

Week 1 – Researching the market
Week 2 – Structure and characters
Week 3 – The importance of plot
Week 4 – Picture book language
Week 5 – Edit edit edit
Week 6 – Submitting to agents and publishers

Course materials and structure

The course takes the form of pdfs which contain the course information, handouts and exercises. These will be emailed once a week, but there is no time limit so you can take your time and fit the course in around work and family life.

Support from Lou throughout the course

As a published author of six picture books and another in production, I can help you work towards publication and will be with you every step of the way. I will give you feedback on each week’s assignment so you know you are on the right track before critiquing your final draft.

Finish the course with a completed picture book

Through the course you will research, plan, draft, redraft and ‘submit’ a complete picture book, which I will then critique so you will have the best possible work to go forward towards submitting to agents or publishers.

You will need:

An email address and access to the internet.

Time to do homework (roughly an hour a week minimum).

A passion for writing. That’s it!

How to enrol

Simply email me at lou.treleaven@sky.com to confirm your place, or use the form on my website. Payment should be made before the course starts either by PayPal to my email address, or please request bank transfer details. Payment by instalments welcome as long as the balance is paid before the start date.

Brigita Orel’s success story

I’m really pleased to share the news that another of my critique customers, Brigita Orel, is having her picture book published very soon.  The Pirate Tree is due out on 5 September from Lantana Publishing.  Illustrated by Jennie Poh, it looks absolutely beautiful.  Brigita kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her publication journey below.

Brigita has also kindly offered a free copy of The Pirate Tree to one reader of this post, shipped to anywhere in the world!  To win, just comment below and I will draw out a winner at random on 26 August.  Good luck!

What was your inspiration for The Pirate Tree?

The idea of a multicultural friendship sort of stems from my interest in multilingualism and multiculturalism. I think it’s important to introduce children to these concepts early on, and what better way to do it than to get them engaged with a fun story about pirate friends?

How important was the critique process (no pressure!)?

Since English is not my mother tongue, feedback is vital for me, particularly when it is so honest and constructive as your suggestions for my manuscript. Your comments helped me see the text in a new light which is always a good thing and a good starting point for revisions.

What made you choose Lantana Publishing?

When I browsed their website and then read a couple of their picture books, I realised they would be the perfect publisher for my story. They want to see all children represented in literature so that every child can find a character to identify with. Since my manuscript celebrates diversity, too, I immediately decided to submit to them. That they are a small independent publisher was a bonus because I felt that would be ideal for my first solo trip into the publishing business.

You have already been published in various formats; how different did it feel to get a picture book accepted?

I’ve been gathering experience in the publishing world for more than a decade (as a translator and by being included in collections of short stories/poems), so that certainly helped when my picture book was accepted. However, having my first picture book published as a sole author is different – both frightening and exciting. But I suppose every project, every publisher, every stage of a writer’s career is different, so I hope to never lose the element of excitement and novelty. The frightening aspects, I could do without.

The illustrations are beautifully drawn by Jennie Poh.  How did you find the illustration process?  Did you get any input?

The illustrations are indeed beautiful! I was thrilled when I saw the spreads for the first time. I didn’t get any input, but I don’t think it was needed. When I write a story, I of course imagine how it would look when illustrated. But when an illustrator reads it, they interpret it differently and I think that gives a story another layer. The final, illustrated version is like a combination of two slightly different stories and I believe that gives the reader even more space for interpretation.

You write in a lot of different formats, from poetry to essays to picture books.  Which is your favourite?  Do you plan on writing more picture books in the future?

The funny thing is that my favourite genre (to write and to read) is probably MG and YA, but I haven’t published anything in it yet (not that I haven’t tried). But I’m already working on two more picture book texts, so hopefully those two will find a home with a publisher, too.

You are currently studying for a PhD in creative writing.  How important do you think it is for writers to learn the craft academically?

I don’t think writers need to learn the craft academically. The only way to learn to write is by writing. But I like to learn new things and challenge myself and that’s why I enrolled in a CW PhD. For me, it has been an amazing journey that has taught me a lot about my writing process and about myself as a writer/person. And I’ve had the best supervisor, so all in all, it’s been a great experience. In addition, the deadlines forced me to write even when I didn’t feel like it – it turned writing into a habit and that’s a good thing for every writer.

And finally… what was the best thing about doing a Masters on Harry Potter?  (So jealous!)

Ha, that was a great excuse for when people raised their eyebrows at me for reading Harry Potter for the tenth time! But I also think when you study a book so thoroughly and from a slightly different perspective (research vs. pure enjoyment), you discover things about it that you might otherwise miss. It’s like a treasure hunt, only you then have to put it all into a thesis form (not my favourite part!). This was to some extent the reason for my PhD, too – to dig deeper, to look at things through an academic lens.

Many thanks to Brigita.

The Pirate Tree is published by Lantana Publishing.  Order through their website and they will donate an additional copy to a charity working to promote reading in low income households.

Visit Brigita Orel’s website for more information about her writing.

Have a look at Jennie Poh’s wonderful illustration work.

Find out more about submitting to Lantana Publishing.

It’s a gigantomungous book giveaway!

* THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO TOOK PART!  THE DRAW IS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNERS ARE DENISE THE ALIEN AND RACHAEL THE PIRATE!  WILL BE IN TOUCH TO ARRANGE FOR YOUR BOOKS TO BE POSTED. *

This month is an exciting one.  I have three books out on 28 May!  Three!  It seems hard to believe that only four years ago I was submitting manuscripts and wondering if I would ever find someone who liked what I wrote.  So to celebrate I would like to give  a signed copy of each of them to you, dear reader, plus a copy of the latest Pluto book, Teachers on Pluto.  That’s what I would like to do anyway, but I can’t, because I can’t give away a thousand copies.  So instead I will do a draw.

The Pirate Package

You have two choices: The Pirate Who Lost His Name picture book plus Slugs in Space early reader (henceforth to be known as The Pirate Package, even though one of them is a slug), or Teachers on Pluto junior fiction and Turns Out I’m an Alien middle grade books (The Alien Package).  To enter the draw, just let me know in the comments section whether you are a pirate or an alien.  I will draw the two winners on 28 May.  Good luck!

The Alien Package

Launching my Writing Picture Books online course

I’m very pleased to share with you that I can now offer an 6 week online course in writing picture books.  I’m really excited about this as it’s something I’ve been wanting to create for ages, and I’ve tried to include everything I wish I’d known at the beginning (and some things I’m still learning now)!

Writing Picture Books poster

The course covers researching, drafting, using appropriate language, crafting plots, creating memorable characters, how to lay out your text and how to approach publishers and/or agents.  By the end of the course you will have created a final (or close to final) draft of a complete picture book, with feedback from me all the way.  Although the course materials will be sent once a week, there is no time limit so you can set the pace yourself.

Payment is £150 payable before the start date of either 1 May or 4 September 2019.  Please email me if you would like to enrol or use the form below.  Looking forward to working with you!

Click here to download course outline

Click here to pay via PayPal (or contact me for bank transfer details)

 

Sally Doran’s success story

I love interviewing debut authors.  It took me so many years to get published, and you do start to think that maybe you are on a journey that will never have an end, so to hear that success really is possible is very motivating.  Sally Doran took a slightly different route than most, and her persistence really paid off, with the result that her fab picture book Boom! Bang! Royal Meringue! illustrated by Rachael Saunders is now out with Anderson Press.  Read on to find out more about Sally’s journey to publication.

sally doran interview pictureDid you write much as a child?  Who encouraged you?

My love of writing actually started a little later, in adult life. I enjoyed English literature at school but it wasn’t until my sister started writing that I considered it something I could do. My family really, really encouraged me in my writing and dedicated hours and hours to reading, critiquing and proofreading my texts. My husband has been brilliant too and is the one that convinced me to go to the London Book Fair when the rejections started stacking up! They have all, along with my amazing friends, had absolute and unwavering faith in my books, which is pretty cool.

Your sister is a writer.  What’s it like to have healthy competition so close at hand?

Well, Kate is actually a writer of non-fiction, so we are not in direct competition – although I think that may change at some point. We are also currently working on a collaboration mixing fiction and non-fiction, which we’re discussing on Skype whenever we get the chance. We have very similar ways of working and writing (we are twins after all) which is a massive advantage and we have a ridiculous amount of fun together!

sally doran bookI was interested to see on your twitter feed that it took four years from signing a contract with Anderson Press until publication.  Why so long?

Yes, it’s felt like a very long wait – I actually changed jobs and had a baby in the time it took to get it on the shelves! I think the period between signing a contract and the release date is ordinarily 2 years, but because of a couple of false starts with different illustrators, it took us twice as long. It was frustrating as I couldn’t do anything to speed the process along but it was worth it to find the prefect fit.

Tell us more about your writing journey.

Once I’d decided I wanted to write a picture book, the first thing I did was read every picture book I could get my hands on, to see what worked and didn’t work. I went to the children’s section in the library when I wasn’t in work and got 10 books out at a time. I researched as much advice as I could on about writing for children, I looked into what stories and themes were relevant and only then did I start writing a book about a little girl who couldn’t get to sleep. I found I absolutely LOVED the process of writing, especially in rhyme and I couldn’t believe it had taken me this long to discover I enjoyed it!

Once I’d completed it, I got sections of it illustrated by artist Emma Carpendale and then sent it off to every publisher that was taking unsolicited manuscripts at the time (thanks to your brilliant and comprehensive list!). If anyone’s done even the slightest bit of research into submitting a picture book, everything screams “don’t get your text illustrated”, but this is ultimately what led to my work getting noticed in the end. When I received a stack of rejection letters, I went to the London Book Fair, identified all the relevant publishers, got there when the doors opened armed with my iPad and a bag load of illustrated manuscripts and basically tried to convince everyone of them that they needed this book on their list. This is where I met Klaus Flugge and Libby Hamilton (working for different publishers at the time but now both at Andersen) who both, along with a number of other publishers said they were interested.

This was absolutely the best thing I ever did. Although Andersen didn’t take up that first book, they did take up my second and I wouldn’t have got the contacts I did or maintained a correspondence with various editors, without attending it. It unequivocally led to my publishing deal. The person who looks at the manuscript you post is not always the person who attends the fair – and that’s why I would advise everyone to go to it if you’ve had no luck with your postal submissions.

How did it feel to finally hold Boom! Bang! Royal Meringue! in your hand?

It was extraordinary. I’d been sent a proof copy, but I wasn’t prepared for quite how beautiful the hardback version would be. It was absolutely thrilling – especially after such a long wait!

Tell us about the story and what inspired you to write it.

I mainly write in rhyme and I came up with the title first, which had originally been Boom! Bang! Hannah Meringue! about a little girl who loved puddings. The story evolved and after lots (and lots) of versions, became a story about a princess who is given a pudding machine for her birthday as a reward for her impeccable manners. It also features my favourite pudding in the world, which is Eton Mess.

What was it like working with your illustrator, Rachael Saunders?

It was a brilliantly collaborative experience, which I know isn’t always the case. Having friends in the industry I had heard horror stories of the author not being consulted at all and the result being a little disappointing. I had quite the opposite experience. Libby (my editor at Andersen) would regularly ask for my feedback on the spreads that Rachael had completed but also encouraged me to trust the illustrator and her creative process. As an author, you have a very fixed idea (or at least I did) on what I wanted the illustrations to look like, but Rachael’s work was exactly that, but better. She has a very comedic style and included things that I would never have dreamt of.

How does your writing day pan out?

When I wrote Boom! Bang! I was only working part-time which was fantastic and meant that when I wasn’t working, I could write. I wrote in the quiet attic room in the house where we were living at the time and in the local coffee shop. (I would really recommend this by the way – weirdly I found it less distracting than being at home!) Once I started working full-time I had to be a little more disciplined so I would get up early, make a coffee and write until I had to jump in the car and get to work. Whilst I was on maternity leave, I wrote a book in collaboration with Rachael (my illustrator) while my little boy slept. Now I’ve got a baby and work almost full-time I’ve had to get even more creative with my time and work in the evening, which I’m not used to but is the only time I have currently.

What advice would you give to writers seeking publication?

I’m writing some top tips for getting published on my Instagram feed, but if I could give just five I would say the following. 1. Make sure your work is as close to perfect as it can be before you send it off. Ask trusted friends and family to read it, they will spot plot holes and grammatical errors that you definitely won’t even if you’ve read it a million times. 2. Have conviction and confidence in your work, if you don’t, a potential editor certainly won’t. 3. Do your research and find the publishers that take unsolicited manuscripts. Don’t waste your time with the rest, your beautiful book will either be sent back or chucked in the bin. Use Lou’s list – it’s comprehensive and regularly updated. 4. If you’re getting a stack of rejections, go to the London Book Fair and book in meetings with the publishers you have identified as a good fit for your book. If they don’t take appointments, just rock up at their stall – that’s what I did with some of them. 5. Don’t give up! When I went to London Book Fair, I approached all the children’s publishers that produced picture books, despite having already been rejected by most of them (my publisher included!). I would also say – just keep writing, you’ll find you develop your writing and ultimately improve it. You’ll also then have a stack of books in your portfolio for your next visit to LBF.

What can we expect next from Sally Doran?

I’ve written the second in the series of Boom! Bang! Royal Meringue!, I’m working on the first three chapters of an MG fiction book and I’ll hopefully be working this summer with my sister on our own project, so I’m very excited about the future. I know though that whether I continue to get published or not, I’ll keep writing regardless.

Thanks Sally, that was fascinating!  You can find Sally at

Twitter @sallyiswriting
Instagram @sally_doran

and you can buy Boom Bang Royal Meringue here.

 

A bibliophile’s paradise – visit to Peter Harrington

I was lucky enough yesterday to have a tour of Peter Harrington in Chelsea.  Harrington’s have two branches in London where they sell rare books, illustrations and maps, and also make beautiful binding.  If you love books and have a spare grand or two, or even if you don’t, this is definitely the place to visit!

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The children’s section

First stop was the children’s book section, where I was thrilled to spot lots of familiar books from my childhood.  I was very lucky in that my mum kept lots of her childhood books and passed them on to me, so I grew up on E Nesbit, Noel Streatfield, Frances Hodgson Burnett et al, but alas, none of them are first editions which I quickly learned are what you should look for when you are checking the value of a book.  If the book is signed by the author this makes it even more special, of course, as can a beautiful binding.  It was fascinating to see a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where there is a mistake in the list of items Harry needs for school (2 wands!) so if you have this early edition, take good care of it!

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Can you spot the mistake in Harry’s list?

Many Beatrix Potter volumes looked out at me like old friends, and leafing (carefully) through them we reminisced how un-cutesy she was in her portrayals of animals, who could be quite cruel to each other.  I loved a large version of Treasure Island, illustrated in wildly menacing strokes by Ralph Steadman.  There was also a beautiful set of Pinnochio colouring books, untouched by crayon.  Unwanted gift?  Sometimes an old book in good condition tells a sad story.

Looking through the adult books, I found the cookery books oddly fascinating.  Did you know that you should boil potatoes for 45 minutes, and only eat ham once a week as it takes 5 hours to digest?  Also remember that scrambled eggs is a very strange recipe choice that is only included as an oddity!

In the history section I was reminded how prolific Winston Churchill was (how did he find the time to dabble in politics, one wonders?) and even more so when we saw a couple of his self portraits sketches on sale up on the wall.  A future present for my husband if I ever make the best seller lists myself.

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101 Dalmations with new binding obviously designed by Cruella de Ville

If I had to choose any of the pictures it would be a hard decision between Maurice Sendik’s iconic illustrations for Where the Wild Things Are, and Andy Warhol’s cat drawings, which were surprisingly endearing and easier to look at than Louis Wain’s grinning, unstable felines.

Sadly we had to leave with nothing but an increased knowledge in old books and respect for those who catalogue them, care for them and ultimately sell them on to appreciative book lovers or generous gift-givers.  Meanwhile I’m off to check my Mum’s complete Elinor Brent Dyer Chalet School series to see if there’s a first edition in there somewhere…

Many thanks to Susanna of Peter Harrington for the tour, and to Jan for inviting me along.

 

 

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My birthday list.  Feel free to pick out your favourite for me, won’t you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiona Barker’s success story

I love sharing a success story, so if you haven’t heard of Fiona Barker and her passion for picture books, please read on and enjoy!  Fiona’s book Danny and the Dream Dog came through my critique service and I was thrilled to learn it will be published by Tiny Tree in October.

danny and the dream dog

Welcome to the blog, Fiona, and congratulations on your forthcoming book.  You started off as a self published author.  Can you tell us a bit about what that was like?

Thank you for inviting me onto your fab blog! Yes, I self-published a picture book ‘Amelie and the Great Outdoors’ in 2016. I had submitted it as a text in the conventional way about 10 years previously. Looking back now, my submissions were cringeworthy! Unsurprisingly I didn’t get anywhere so I shelved it for about 7 years. Then I came back to the story, which I still liked. This time around I investigated self-publishing. I worked with a freelance book designer and together we commissioned lovely illustrations from Rosie Brooks. Then I approached Matador who took me through the process of printing and publication. By now I knew that I had the picture book bug and so I started to view Amelie as a ‘practice’ for trying to get traditionally published. I won’t lie, it was an expensive process! But once you have a book in your hands you can get experience with events in schools, bookshops and libraries. I’ve learned so many lessons and I think that would all have taken much longer if I hadn’t self-published and had to market my book myself. My current publishers, Tiny Tree, told me that they were impressed by the fact that I had some history and a track record in promoting my book and that was one of the reasons that they signed me. So although I haven’t broken even financially, nothing is ever wasted. The experience has been invaluable.

Why did you feel you wanted to pursued a traditional publishing contract?

Lots of reasons! I couldn’t really afford to self-publish again. Self-published picture book authors are at a disadvantage because they have to pay up-front illustrator costs and this puts it out of reach for many writers. Also, I had rediscovered a real passion for picture books and wanted to explore pursuing writing as a career. It’s hard to pull that off with self-publishing. I have massive respect for anyone who manages to do that. And, like it or not, there is still a stigma attached to self-publishing. Several bruising experiences when trying to market Amelie showed me that!

What attracted you to Tiny Tree?  How has the process been, working with them?

I found Tiny Tree through Twitter (which is my favourite and my best!). I saw a tweet by one of their authors and decided to look them up. The information on the website sounded great, they were quite new at that stage so I thought I might be in with more of a chance than with a more established publisher and they accepted unsolicited submissions! It felt like I might be in roughly the right place at roughly the right time for once but I wasn’t confident as I’d had so many rejections in the past! They have been brilliant right from the start. They agreed to work with the illustrator that I wanted and they’ve been very hands on in getting everything just right. It’s so different from self-publishing where absolutely everything is down to you. This feels much more collaborative and it’s great to have other people who are excited about your book!

Bit of a cheeky question coming up!  You had a critique done during the drafting process of Danny and the Dream Dog.  How do you think this helped you?

It was HUGE! I’d advise anyone to get independent professional advice on their texts. It helped me refine the style and voice. I also changed a couple of important aspects of the plot and one of the main characters names. So some quite major revisions! But I didn’t follow through with everything. There were a couple of times where edits were suggested but I decided to stick with the original, including the title! I’ll let everyone judge for themselves whether that was a good idea or not! But it was great to be forced to carefully consider and justify the things I kept. I’m sure the professional advice helped because no changes were made to the text by the publishers!

You are very active on the literary scene with Picture Book Club, school visits and adult events such as WI and U3A meetings.  Do you think this has helped your author profile?

Massively, especially Picture Book Club. That’s not why I did it though! I set up PBC as an affordable way for people (including me!) to meet and learn from established industry professionals. And it gives me something to tweet and blog about. The adult talks I do are just a chance to witter on about picture books for an hour or so. And I love doing school visits. That’s done a bit for my profile locally but I’m not famous enough to get many long distance school gigs (-; 

How did you find your agent Alice Williams?  Tell us a bit about what an agent does for you.

Alice was on my ‘hit list’ because she represents my SCBWI friend and fellow picture book author Clare Helen Welsh. I submitted to her and then met her in person at the SCBWI conference in 2017 and I signed with her shortly afterwards. She is awesome. She is responsive if I have any queries and takes quite an editorial role which I find very helpful (even if I cry into my laptop initially!). She also knows the industry and has the contacts that I will never have. Having spent years pressing the send button myself, it feels weird having someone else do that for you but she is getting my work seen by editors that I could only have dreamed of previously. 

As an audiologist, do you think your day job affects your writing life?

I only work as an audiologist 2 days a week so writing fits round that quite well. I also have incredibly supportive colleagues which helps enormously. I’m terrible at compartmentalising things though so I always have a notebook with me, even at work and I often have to break off from working on a story to take a call from a patient. I recognise that I’m very lucky to be able to maintain both though. Variety is the spice of life!

What are your ambitions?

Ooooo! In the short term, I have one or two texts that are very special to me which I would really, really like to see in print. In the longer term, I’d like to write something that has longevity. Something that might still be in print in 10 or 20 years time. It’s a bit of a pipedream but you might as well aim high! 

And finally, any words of advice to other writers?

My number one piece of advice would be to join SCBWI and find a local or online critique group. My own SCBWI crit group are, without exception, amazing writers who I continue to respect and learn from all the time. You will also meet so many other fantastic writers and illustrators as well as other industry professionals. I met Howard Gray, who has done a brilliant job illustrating Danny, at the SCBWI conference in 2016 and the rest is history!

Many thanks Fiona and the best of luck with your new book!

Danny and the Dream Dog by Fiona Barker and illustrated by Howard Gray is published by Tiny Tree in October.  You can pre-order here, or why not order at your local bookshop or library?

Visit Fiona at fionabarker.co.uk or on twitter at @Fi_BGB

Find out about Picture Book Club.

And check out the wonderful dog charity Cinnamon Trust.

 

The Picture Book Prize 2018

Competitions are a great way to get your work seen, so any competition that is aimed at debut picture book writers and is judged by picture book supremo Amy Sparkes and superagent Julia Churchill is a must.  It’s also sponsored by Writing Magazine which features regular articles by Amy on how to write for children.

Entries of up to 800 words can be in rhyme or prose, and you have plenty of time to hone your masterpieces before submission as the entry window doesn’t open until 1 September 2018 (and closes on 31 October).  Prizes include consultations, critiques and cash, but most importantly being a prize winner can be an valuable step towards publication.

Details are on Amy Sparkes’ site and I recommend following her on Twitter to get her Wednesday Writing Tips.  And if you need any help prior to submission, why not check out my critique service?