The power of a network and great writing friends

November 22, 2018
Last weekend some of my critique group and I packed our bags and checked into a fantastic Air BnB in Winchester in preparation for the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) annual conference.  
It felt like living the best parts of student life again, funky attic apartment with plenty of floor cushions and bean bags, wine in the fridge and nothing to eat but toast and biscuits!
This in itself was a real treat as my crit buddies are genuinely some of my best friends.  I think this is partly because we have known each other for several years now and meet up regularly (officially to critique but there's always wine, usually tapas and definitely lots of giggles.) But more than that they are the people in my life more than any other who understand the ups and downs of writing.  We support each other, cheering the highs, the agent success and publishing deals but also mopping up the crushing lows when they happen.  
They are the first port of call when I bubble over with excitement from some publishing interest or a phone call with an agent,  but they are also the only people I know who really understand just how difficult this business is.  If I was on Steve Wright's weekend show I might call them 'my rock' but as I hate a cliche I shall avoid that.
For the entire weekend we were immersed in a SCBWI world full of other friends who are also on the strange and wonderful children's publishing merry-go-round.  I caught up with friends with lots of very successful books behind them, some award winners and at the top of the game, and also with friends just starting out trying to find their way.  There were no airs of a pecking order, just lots of people who love children's books supporting and helping each other out.
My point?  This isn't just my chance to gush about how wonderful my writing buddies and the SCBWI are, it's my way of saying 'find your people.' 
Get out there and find people who do what you do, who understand and can support you, cheer you on and pick you up when it all feels hopeless. I couldn't be without my network and finding yours might just be one of the best decisions you ever make.
 

The big re-launch!

November 6, 2018
I have been so busy writing, editing with my old agent, finding a new agent (still playing the waiting game there!) and connecting with other writers that I have let my creative writing workshops slip.
Over the summer I was updating my website and I looked at the 'school visits' page wondering how relevant it still was having not down a visit in just over a year. 
 
And then it hit me....WHAM... on the back of the head at tremendous speed.  Why have I not been in schools - other than my teaching...
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The Waiting Game

October 15, 2018
The waiting game is something often talked about when it comes to the path of an author.  Waiting for inspiration or the perfect time to get on with that first draft of the first book (spoiler there is no such time I'm afraid), waiting for critique feedback, waiting for agent response, waiting for the publisher to get back to your agent.  Everything seems as though it is on a go slow in this wonderful, crazy, unique business.

Over the summer I submitted some work to two agents.  Waiting for th...
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Huge decisions and the highs and lows of writing.

June 10, 2018
I have noticed how often social media and blogs are filled with the positive aspects of the life of a children's author.  Agent signings, book deals, places in various charts, award shortlists or big wins, that sort of thing.
This is brilliant to read and I find it hugely uplifting and cheering but also not all that realistic.  For every author who has achieved these great things there have been struggles along the way.  Rejection letters, missing out on the shortlists and awards then there ar...
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I'm on a list!

May 12, 2018
One of the things I adore about being part of a fabulous writing community is sharing the successes of other writers.  I genuinely love spotting a friend's name on a long-list, or finding out someone I admire has won a competition.  One of my wonderful writing group friends was recently short listed for the Times Chicken House prize and when she told us all, our shrieks of delight made everyone else in the bar stop talking and look to see what the excitement was all about!
The other bonus of t...
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London Book Fair 2018

April 13, 2018
Yesterday I got up early, paid an extortionate amount of money for a peak rail ticket to London and headed up to Olympia.  From previous experience I put on my comfiest shoes and easy to remove layers, both of which I was very glad of by the end of the day.
Olympia is a pretty huge place and so the first thing I did was pick up a map and try to get my bearings.  I had a moment where I felt like I needed to put the map on the floor and stand on it to get a better idea of where everything was (m...
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Book Launches

March 27, 2018
The thing with book launches is that, before I go, I am always filled with utter joy and excitement at the birth of another children's book as well as being pleased as punch for a friend who has made it to the bookshelves.  Some of these books will go on to win prizes, huge critical acclaim and top best-sellers' lists everywhere whilst others bumble along well enough without making particular waves.  Whatever the end result, every book that makes it to the shelf has already jumped over so man...
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Book Buddy

March 13, 2018
A lovely fellow children's writer and booky friend of mine, the delectable Maz Evans, spotted a problem when she was visiting schools to give author talks.  Simply put she noticed that there is a huge hole in the budget for libraries, school librarians and books.  BOOKS!  Surely the building blocks that every school should be amply equipped with.  But no, Maz found teachers dipping into their own purses to buy books for their classes and libraries sourced mainly from charity shops and donatio...
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Still waiting

September 13, 2017
Who said the world of publishing is slow?? Was it the snail or the sloth?  Having spent the last 6 years living and breathing the world of books I thought I had a pretty realistic grasp on the length of time it takes to get anything done.  I know how pressured everyone's time is, I know the phenomenally huge piles of work every agent and editor have.  Yet there is still a little (ok medium....fairly large if I'm honest) part of me that still nurses the bubble of impatience.
Jo and I went out o...
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Final push on the edits

May 18, 2017
Since signing with the rather lovely Jo Moult I have been revisiting The Boy From The Cellar which has been lovely as it feels like seeing old friends again after a bit of a break.
Jo has made some suggestions which have all made the book a better beast.  We are now almost ready for it to be fledged and find it's way in the publishing world.  Then it will be fingers crossed all over again that one of the publishers who reads it thinks it is worth taking.
I am going to have to fill the next roun...
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