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 are the long waits for feedback. 
Areas of low as well as the areas of high. 
Twitter would be a pretty depressing place if every writer posted every rejection they received, or pictures of themselves at home in their PJs watching Eastenders whilst friends and colleagues attend award ceremonies for prizes they themselves have been overlooked for.  But this side of the publishing world is just as real as the shiny side we see so often.
Each debut book that we excitedly cheer for and support has been years coming for that author.  The journey is long and often winding and complicated but the joy at the end result is the thing we see.  It has been hard earned in most cases and very well deserved.
So here it is from me -  a not-quite-yet author.  I am now in a position of feeling pretty certain I will have my name on a published book in the future (I am sorry if that sounds a bit 'up myself' to quote my daughter, but the past 7 years have taught me a lot and I have had just enough success and interest to be able to say this with my head held high-ish) but I am still on my winding and sometimes tricky pathway to debut success.
Last month I was shortlisted for a writing prize.  Huge high. 
But I didn't win. Bit of a dip.
Then I made a momentous decision and decided to leave my lovely agent. Big low.  
I made the most difficult and nerve- wracking decision so far of my career and called Jo to explain that, whilst I really admire her and I still think she's a fantastic agent, I wasn't sure we were compatible.  There were several reasons I came to this conclusion and it was a very difficult decision to make but when we talked through things together it was clear that it was the right choice for both of us.  Happily we are still on very good terms and were honestly and warmly able to wish each other well and promise to keep in touch.  Something that I treasure as I know not all agent/author splits end this amicably.
And so once again I am an unagented author - low point. 
Luckily the next high was not far away as another agent is already reading 3 of my middle grade manuscripts and a handful of my picture books.  So I am keeping my fingers crossed she likes what she sees.  But if not then I will pick myself up and begin the process of agent hunting again.
Then, two days ago, I received feedback from Stripes publisher about the chapters and synopsis of mine they had shortlisted.  The feedback was amazing and so much better than I had expected.  All of a sudden I have been gifted another writing boost and my graph line is heading up again!  
I guess the point of this blog is to say that I am not lying when I say I adore to read about the success of other writers, especially friends of mine.  They give all of us hope and encouragement and something to strive for.
But it is also important to remember that the road is not quick nor easy and that when the lows come they are just part of the process.  A process that has more surprises around the corner and the next one might be just the thing you have been waiting for. 


 

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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Officially agented and officially OVER THE MOON!

March 1, 2017
The title of this post about says it all really!! Last week I became an agented writer and am so very very excited!
Getting an agent has been something I have been trying to do for such a long time and now I can hardly believe it has finally happened!!!
I am utterly delighted to announce that I am now represented by Joanna Moult of Skylark Literary Agency.
🎉🎉🎉🎉 (this calls for my first ever emoji blog post!) 
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A Little Bit of Success

December 7, 2016
A small foot note to the NaNoWriMo post.
I mentioned that I believe fate plays a hand in the things that happen in my life.  The chain of events that led me to completing MIMA MALONE AND THE MAD BAD INVENTOR were not planned by me.  I had expected to spend the whole of November writing my 1984 story but had to scoop up Mima when I realised the problem with re-imagining a story written less than 80 years ago.
I am so glad I did though as, not only did I have an absolute ball writing a story that...
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My NaNoWriMo experience

December 7, 2016
November started for me with the NaNoWriMo writing challenge.  I decided to go for a story that had been knocking around in my head for a while, a re-imagining of George Orwell's 1984 for a modern MG audience.  Great, I thought.  The over use of screens for the modern child is current and the possibility of them being used by an evil force to control the kids in an Orwellian way might be quite an interesting concept.
I got a few thousand words in, planned the entire thing in more detail than I...
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