My Writing · picture books · slush pile

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!

About me · articles · My Writing · social media

Factual feast!

Hello fellow subbers.  This bulletin brings news of some non-fiction successes.

handbook of creative writingI have a chapter on Social Media for Writers included in the second edition of The Handbook of Creative Writing, just published by Edinburgh University Press.  I can honestly say it’s the most comprehensive and thorough guide to creative writing I have ever read!  So many different types of writing are covered, including the more unusual types such as flash fiction, song lyrics, memoirs, humorous fiction, literary magazines, writing as therapy, screen writing and many other areas that aren’t covered by the regular manuals.  (Great to read a chapter on writing for the theatre.)  Also discussed are MAs, writing in the community, how to present yourself as a writer, teaching writing, making a living as a writer and even the theory and history of creative writing as a leisure activity.  At over 500 pages it doubles as a useful paperweight!

Also out this month is July’s Writing Magazine which includes my article on grammar checking software: The Proof is Out There!  I love punning titles and this one just about slipped through the cheesiness filter.  Now there’s an idea for a useful piece of software.

Writing Magazine July 2014There’s some new opportunities for YA out so I’ll be posting on them soon.  In the meantime, keep subbing and good luck!

 

About me · My Writing · plays · playwriting

March madness!

It’s an exciting month for me, fellow scribes.  My short play The Voices is being performed as part of Ghost Dog Productions‘ new writing night at the Horse Bar, London, while previous play Love in the Time of Magicka is currently ‘on tour’ at the Little Black Box Theatre in Bristol and then next month at the King’s Arms in Salford, with a new director and cast for each location.  All three venues are fab ’boutique’ theatre spaces that love new writing.

horse bar
Theatre space at the Horse Bar – small but perfectly formed.

 

Meanwhile my article on decoding the mystery of blogging stats is in this month’s Writing Magazine (misleadingly labelled April issue, as magazines are from the future).

Exciting times!  Meanwhile I’m working on a full length play for a competition, plus some more short pieces.  But never fear, I shall still be watching out for opportunities to submit to children’s publishers and for writing tips to share with you.  My main tip this month: take every opportunity that comes your way.  You never know what might happen!

articles · List of children's publishers in UK accepting unsolicited manuscripts · slushpile · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts · YA

New indie markets

A couple of interesting indie publishers featured in Writing Magazine this month.

First is Fledgling Press,  a Scottish company that focuses on debut authors writing a variety of fiction including YA.  If you’re Scottish too that will help!  You should send three chapters and a short synopsis by email and they aim to reply within 6 weeks.  If accepted your book will be placed on a longlist for possible publication.  Note they do not want sci fi.  Full submission details at www.fledglingpress.co.uk/submissions.

The other indie that caught my eye this month is Ghostly Publishing which has been founded by a paranormal investigator, no less!  The premise gets even more intriguing as the submission process involves peer review on the site, so you need to register then upload your submission – first three chapters and synopsis – rather than emailing or posting it.  There is also a free ‘manuscript checker’ which apparently can instantly score your book to test if it is ready for publication – the closer you get to zero, the better!  Take a look at these details on the site to familiarise yourself with the process.  As you might expect, Ghostly wants fantasy and sci-fi for child to teen readership.

And finally, if you do buy Writing Magazine this month you’ll find my article on how to interpret your blog stats nestling happily on page 28 under the pun-derful title Stat’s Amazing!

Happy submitting everyone!

Competitions · My Writing · playwriting

I’m a Pint-Sized Winner!

Actually it’s not me who’s pint-sized but my script!  My short play ‘Brought to Book’ is a winner in the 2013 Pint-Sized Plays competition.  Pint-Sized Plays bring theatre into pubs by staging performances of the ten finalists’ scripts in various pubs around Tenby in Wales as part of Tenby Arts Festival.  They then go on to take part in a ‘script slam’ with the winner taking home the coveted pint trophy.  There were 250 entries from all around the world so I feel a great sense of achievement in being a finalist.  I just wish Tenby wasn’t four and half hours away so I could go and watch!

The win marks a bit of a change of direction for me.  I’m still writing (and submitting!) children’s fiction but my involvement in amateur dramatics has sparked a flurry of playwriting activity.  I’ve discovered that it’s ideal if you like writing dialogue and hate description, like me!  Searching for opportunities to submit is very different from finding a publisher.  When you write a script you are writing for performance rather than publication, and there are plenty of young theatre companies looking for new scripts, either at certain times of the year or through competitions.  Entry fees are rare but so is payment.  The reward is getting your play performed rather than monetary recompense.  The most useful site I have found for opportunities is Playwright’s Competition Calendar.  You can browse by month according to when the competition expires.  Well worth a look if you’re interested in script writing.

articles · My Writing

Back Me Up on This

You!  Yes, you!  Back up your work!

Today I’m going to play the parent and nag you.  Whatever writing you’re doing, wherever you are, stop now and back it up.  Whether it’s on a memory stick, an external hard drive or a paper printout, make sure you have an extra copy of whatever you are doing.  (Even if you don’t value it much now, you may do later on.  A novel lost always becomes a masterpiece in retrospect!)

My latest article on backing up and storing your work is published this month in Writing Magazine (May 2013 edition).  There’s lots of other useful stuff in there as well including a special on writing picture books and an insightful interview with three very different literary agents.

Have you backed up your work yet?  No?  Shame on you!  Yes?  Good – I won’t stop your pocket money.  At least, not this week.

writing magazine may 2013

articles · Facebook · Interactive story · My Writing · social media · Twitter

Creative Social Media

Probably the most important thing you can do this year to increase your chances of success – apart from writing your brilliant book, of course – is to boost your web profile.  If you’re looking for inspiration, why not try:

  • tweeting or facebooking as your book character
  • tweeting or facebooking as your villain!
  • blogging a serial
  • creating a collaborative blog with other writers
  • creating a magazine-style publishing blog
  • tweeting micro-fiction
  • creating an interactive story

All these ideas are discussed in detail in my article Get Creative with Social Media in Writing Magazine, February 2013 (available in the UK in WH Smith).  Plus ten tips for getting creative, and a step-by-step guide on using WordPress to create an interactive story, just like I did.

WM Feb 2013

Competitions · My Writing · Poetry

The Haunted School poem published!

My poem The Haunted School is published in this month’s Writer’s News, part of Writing Magazine.  I wrote it especially for their children’s poetry competition; the first line just popped into my head and that dictated the theme and the rhyme for the rest.  I have decided to plough the second place prize money back into my writing and will be putting it towards a critique at some point in the future.  For now I will continue carrying my magazine around and pushing it into people’s faces.  “Look!  It’s me!”

My Writing

A second outing for Derek at February Femme Fatales

If you like short, sharp horror or flash fiction of the fearsome kind, then take a visit to Lily Childs’ home on the web, Lily Childs’ Feardom.  Not only is Lily a brilliantly macabre author, but she also hosts a weekly flash fiction competition and the February Femme Fatales, a showcase of short horror writing from female authors who like to put themselves about a bit on the web.  If you’re feeling brave why not pay a visit – oh, and today the Femme Fatale just happens to be me!  Come and see what happened next to the hapless Derek in Death and Derek.  Happy reading.

Competitions · Poetry

Rhyme & Reason Desk Diary 2012 out now!

rhyme and reason desk diary timeMy poem ‘I waited but you didn’t come’ features in this year’s Rhyme and Reason publication, a desk diary featuring prose and poetry on the theme of time.  Rhyme and Reason is a fundraising group which raises money for a great cause, the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home.  I’m looking forward to reading the winning entries in the diary, as well as the other entries like mine which were picked for inclusion.  If you’re looking for a unique and thoughtful Christmas present, why not order a copy yourself?  It’s available on the Iain Rennie shop website at http://www.irhh.org/sitehome/shop/showproduct.php?productID=137.