IC Blog Tour

Thanks to Lyndal at Delia Writes for inviting me on the IC Blog Tour. I have been following “Delia Writes” for some time now and her exciting journey to self-publication. “Delia’s Perfectly Pink Earmuffs” has now been published and printed and is a gorgeous children’s picture book.

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The IC Blog’s focus is ‘A great way to elevate meaningful conversation and connections!’  For more information about Insightful Communications Publishing click here.
Below is a set of questions I have answered, that I hope will assist in the writing journey.

Here are the questions:

1. What are your tips for creating meaningful content?

I have a little notebook that I write down quotes, ideas, things that I read or hear on the news or in a movie or things that my friends/family say that might fit into one of my stories one day.

A few years ago I participated in Katherine Battersby’s How to Write a Children’s Book and I also participated in Blogging 101 where I learnt new skills about blogging and writing.  Every year I attend the CYA conference in Brisbane to listen to authors tell their story of what/how they write and their journey to publication and as well as meeting lots of lovely authors, I always pick up lots of tips and new ideas.

2. Books: Everyone has a story, some a book. If you’ve written a book, what was your creative process? What encouragement would you give others just beginning their book writing journey?

After I’d written a couple of children’s picture book manuscripts I sent them to an editor for a manuscript appraisal and she was very helpful, informing me about the structure of a picture book and what she liked/disliked about my stories.   She said, “You’ve got some really good ideas, you just don’t know how to write.”  I was horrified at first but these were my first attempts so I worked hard to improve them.

I then started entering stories in writing competitions – the feedback is invaluable and after a few years it was great to achieve a first place, second place and third place – built up confidence and encouraged me to keep on going.   I also submitted stories to anthologies and magazines.  There’s always somebody looking for flash fiction, poems, short stories and there are loads of writing competitions out there too.

I try to attend writing courses, book launches and author talks whenever I can.  I have found that a lot of these are free through my local libraries.  Following other writers’ blogs is another way to learn new things and stay in touch with what’s going on in the world of writing and publishing.

I’m also a member of  Creative Kids’ Tales and they have competitions, tips for writing and highlight emerging authors and illustrators.

Lastly, every year I submit one or two stories into the ASA Mentorship Program Award, hoping to be allocated a mentor to help me get my story up to a publishable standard.

3. What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t give up – keep on writing.  Even if nobody else ever reads it, it’s still fun and creative and I know my kids love my stories anyway!!

4. What are you working on now, and how can we, as a community, help?

I am still working on my junior fiction chapter book that I started 3 years ago and I’m also having a go at writing a YA novel (started it last November during NaNoWriMo) and hope to finish it this November.

I’ve been thinking about applying for a grant so I can do a paid mentorship program so if anyone has any tips about applying for a grant I’d love to hear about them.

Thanks for reading.  If you’d like to join the tour and inform people about your writing please do and link back here.

Have a great weekend.

Pitching to Publishers – Week 2

Last week’s activities were all about finding the best agent or publisher that suits your manuscript, reading about what publishers want and writing a query letter.

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One publisher said that if they liked the sound of the story or the author’s tone, they were prepared to overlook any missing information in the query letter.  So make sure you describe your story well!!

I thought query letters were supposed to be formal and serious but a publisher commented that many or the letters they receive sound the same and have a flat tone, so they prefer an author to show a bit of personality and say, “I love…” or “I’m passionate about…”.  Or something else that is a little bit out there or inspiring that will encourage them to want to read what you’ve written.

Therefore… don’t be too rigid in writing your letters.  Interesting…

What they are looking for:

* Describe the story

* Tell them why they should read it

* Tell them a bit about yourself

*  Write the letter as if you’re writing to someone you want to start a relationship with (if the publisher/agent reads a query letter that stirs some sort of emotion in them, then they are more likely to want to work with you and it doesn’t matter so much if your novel isn’t “perfect”.)

After reading all the information it was time to write my query letter and send it in to my tutor to receive feedback.

Here is my query letter:

New Frontier Publishing (I haven’t got an address as they only accept email submissions)

To Whom It May Concern, 

Please find enclosed a synopsis and three chapters of my fantasy chapter book for children titled, “The Curse of the Shattered Sceptre”, which is approximately 10 000 words in length.

“The Curse of the Shattered Sceptre” is an action-packed story of friendship, adventure and magic.

When Oliver Bartholomew unleashes a torrent of curses from an ancient book of spells, he and his book club buddies must use their wits and imagination to unravel a series of twisted clues. In a race against time, the five friends must uncover the missing pieces of glass and mend the book’s shattered sceptre. Only then, will the balance of nature be restored.

With some advice from a zany fortune teller, Ollie and his friends set off on their search, unaware that they are being followed. To succeed in their quest, the boys must battle the conniving headless horseman and anything else that stands in their way. If they fail….

….they will be cursed forever!

The target audience for this chapter book is most likely to be children aged 8-11 years old who enjoy the work of authors such as Kate Forsyth and George Ivanoff.

I am a Brisbane-based writer of children’s picture books and chapter books. My previous publishing credits include short stories in Short and Twisted (Celapene Press), children’s stories on the Kids’ Book-Review website, poems in Positive Words Magazine and a children’s story in The School Magazine (Countdown). A full list of my publications is attached.

I undertook the writing of this book after hearing a group of friends organising a playdate for their sons one afternoon. I envisaged a story about a ‘boys club’ where all the boys love reading, have different characteristics, get into lots of mischief and go on hair-raising adventures. I wrote this book to encourage boys to read more and enjoy reading.

Please be advised that I am sending this submission to other agents and publishers.

Many thanks for considering my work I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

________________

Still too rigid?  Perhaps I need to add another sentence –  I’m passionate about…

I follow Kathy Temean’s fantastic writing blog and she has a very helpful post on Successful Query Letters and Winning Examples that you may like to look at, as well as other helpful information about publishers and writing for children.

Have you written a query letter?  I’d love to see other examples.

Pitching to Publishers – Week 1

The AWM Pitching to Publishers Course started on Monday 4th May. I had some trouble logging in but after a couple of emails and a phone call I was finally able to access the course today and complete last week’s two activities.

The first one was an icebreaker activity where we had to answer a few questions about ourselves.

Here is my response:

Hi! My name is Rachel and last night we went out for a lovely mother’s day dinner at a Thai restaurant.
I was born in Rockhampton, central Queensland.  I would recommend the book,“Little Bee” by Chris Cleave. This book tells the compelling story of two courageous women who have suffered considerable hardships.  I read it on the Christmas holidays and couldn’t put it down.

For the second activity we had to write an elevator pitch.

An “elevator pitch” is the description you might give someone who asks about your novel, that is short enough to deliver in an elevator ride.  Due to the short time frame, your pitch needs to give a concise yet enticing sense of what your manuscript is about.

What we had to do:

Write between 100 and 200 words for your “elevator pitch”.

For fiction, include the five Cs: Category (genre), Called (title), Concept (the overarching idea), Conflict (the main obstacle or problem to overcome), and Characters.

Here is my elevator pitch:

“The Curse of the Shattered Sceptre” is an action-packed story full of magic, mystery and adventure for 9-12 year olds. After accidentally unleashing a torrent of curses from an ancient book of spells, Ollie and his book club buddies, Jasper, Jed, Liam and Eli must work together and use their wits and imagination to unravel a series of twisted clues. In a race against time and with many obstacles in their way,  the boys must face their deepest fears to find the missing shards of coloured glass belonging to the book of spells.  Once the book’s shattered sceptre is mended, the balance of nature will be restored.  However, if the boys fail, they will be cursed forever! 

(117 words)

I’m wondering if it’s too short – not enough information?  Or are the sentences too long??  I’d really appreciate some feedback as it seems that, apart from the tutor, there is only one other person doing the course!

Thanks,

Rachel