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.

baneofyourresistance.com

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

Blog Tour Award

Thanks to Millie Thom for nominating me for the Blog Tour Award.  Check out her blog as she is a fantastic writer and participates in a lot of writing events which I enjoy reading – Friday Fictioneers, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, Word of the Week (WOW) and Mondays Finish the Story.

This award involves answering four questions about writing.

Here are the rules:

  • Compose a one-time post on a specific Monday (date given from your nomination – I was given either April 6 or April 13)
  • Give them the rules and a specific Monday to post by.  My nominees can post on Monday 27 April.
  • Pass the tour on to up to four other bloggers.
  • Answer four questions about your creative process which lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do.

Here are the four questions and my answers . . .

Q.1. What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am still working on my junior fiction chapter book that I started about 3 years ago.  I first wrote the story as a  1000 word children’s story for a writing competition but then decided I wanted to turn into a chapter book.  It’s now over 7000 words and I’m up to my 9th draft.  However, I still have a couple of more chapters to add to it before I then read it again and again, no doubt changing and adding more adventures along the way.

My goal was to complete it and have it ready to send in to an agent by the end of June 2015 (before I go back to work) but I’ve been a bit obsessed with blogging and writing flash fiction lately that I haven’t even looked at it!  Doesn’t matter.  Every bit of writing is good practise and I will just aim to have it finished by the end of the year instead.

I am also working on a number of children’s picture book manuscripts – some to enter in competitions and some to send off to publishers.

Q.2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?

My children’s chapter book is about a group of boys who love books and reading.   They are on a mission to find the best book ever written.  However, after finding an ancient book of spells and accidentally unleashing a torrent of spells, the five friends set off on an adventure through the fun fair.  They must work together and use their wits and imagination to find clues and solve riddles in order to banish the curse.

The story is for all kids but I wrote it with the idea of encouraging boys to read.  I’m hoping that they will enjoy reading about all the magical adventures and fun that these boys have.

Q.3. Why do you write or create what you do?

I love writing stories for children.  Picture books only have a small amount of words and you really have to make them count. I like the challenge of trying to show, not tell, letting the illustrations tell a lot of the story.   I started writing stories just for fun to read to my children.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided that I wanted to learn all the ins and outs of writing a children’s picture book so I got an editor to look at some of my stories, I googled lots of information, I went to a number of writing conferences and I continued writing stories every spare minute I had.

When I sent my first story off for a manuscript assessment, the editor said, “You have interesting ideas and your stories have potential… What lets you down is your writing.”   Her words encouraged me to improve.  I also found entering competitions very useful as the feedback is incredibly helpful.

Q.4. How does your writing/creative process work?

I do a variety of things:

*  Jot down the main story line (beginning, middle and end) and the characters.

*  Make a story web with the problem in the middle and the solutions/adventures branching out from it.

*  I have a sheet for each character with their name, appearance, strengths, weaknesses, quirks, fears, desires etc.

*  I write chapter by chapter, editing bits and pieces as I go, but also going back after a few chapters to add or rearrange.

*  I have a notebook ready to write down any funny sayings or things that I might see or read about that I think would be good to add into my story.

*  Once the whole story is finished I will read over it again and again and again – probably proofreading forever!

*  Over the years I have been trying to win a mentorship program whereby a professional would work with me to get my story up to a publishable standard.   This year I would also like to have a go at applying for a grant to have an editor assess my work.

Well, that’s enough about me…

I nominate:

Vanessa at Romance Done Write

Az at Tastyniblets

Ameena at Randoms by a Random

Claire Fuller

Blogs for Writers

Along my blog travels today, catching up on reading Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, Friday Fictioneers and Perfect Picture Book Friday I came across some great blogs that I thought would be helpful to all my writer friends out there.

Here they are:

1)  Nortina  S. posted about the Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, an online publication that is now accepting submissions for it’s second themed issue entitled “A Haunting”.  For more information, click here.

2)  Through Keila Dawson’s blog I came across Sub It Club where I found a stack of writing competitions, Pitch Slam contests (from April through to September) along with information and helpful hints about querying and submitting. Everything you need to know to help get your work “out there”.

Here’s what they say – “Whether you’re a writer thinking about sending out your first manuscript, an artist sending out sample artwork, an old pro who’s submitted loads of manuscripts, agented or on your own, Sub It Club wants to support you. Whatever stage you’re in, whatever genre. Sub It Club is here to help you make something amazing happen! We’ll be posting submission information, motivation, and challenges. We’ll talk cover and query letters.”

3)  If you’re interested in the Pitch Slam Contest on Sub It Club, there’s one coming up on the 9th April 2015.  Click here for submission details.  Looks like fun!

4)  Last but not least – Through Stacy S. Jensen’s blog I found Rate Your Story – Before you send in a picture book manuscript or magazine article to a publisher or writing competition, send it to Rate Your Story and a volunteer published author will read over it and give you a score from 1-10.  It’s that easy!

Hope everyone had a great Easter and a nice relaxing holiday.

Blogging 101 Assignment #1 – What I do and why

When I started my blog a few years ago I was focused on writing a children’s picture book and mainly wrote posts about reading and writing – book reviews, writing competitions, library activities, children’s authors and illustrators etc but then I decided to branch out a bit, adding posts about my hobbies – scrapbooking, cooking, sewing and other crafts.  From now on, as well as writing about these themes, I’m also keen to write about whatever comes to mind.

I’ve got a busy month ahead of me.  I will have bum on seat, eyes glued to my screen pretty much everyday because as well as participating in Blogging 101, reading your posts, commenting and writing posts, I am also participating in a “Pitching to Publishers” Course.   I’m hoping to learn a lot of new things.

Looking forward to meeting lots of bloggers and reading lots of posts in the next few weeks.

Rachel 🙂

NaNoWriMo – Day 7

Day 7 and I’m quite exhausted.  Not used to having to think of so many ideas all at once!  My brain is hurting.  I have so many ideas but my fingers can’t type quick enough to get them all down!  Everywhere I go I look for inspiration – at the beach, at the gym, on my travels into the city and back and from ads on tv!  I am really pleased with my efforts so far – just over 6000 words covering about 4 chapters.

I’ve had my parents staying for the week which has been great.  Dad has been keeping the washing and folding up to date, mum, the cooking and cleaning and both have been looking after the kids, giving me lots of time to think and write.

I have been typing at the kitchen table, in bed (would not recommend it – very uncomfortable and it gives you a sore back), on my phone at the gym while cycling (and emailing notes/sentences to myself) and down at a picnic table by the beach (that was the best spot – lots of ideas flowing that day).

Even though I plotted the storyline in order, I’ve been writing all over the shop.   As an idea comes to me I write it all down.  Later on I will decide where to slot it in and probably change a few things so it makes sense and flows on from the previous chapter.

How’s everyone else going with their story?

Day Two

Day 2 of NaNoWriMo and already I’m behind schedule (736 words).  It’s a bit tricky when you have visitors come to stay for the weekend!  But I did manage to plot a time line and scribble down some notes yesterday morning and then stay up past midnight to get parts of it typed up.  I think perhaps I need to just type and not edit so much as I go along??

How’s everyone else going with their story?

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month.  I just signed up and am a bit nervous as the longest story I’ve written is a junior fiction chapter book with a total of 7300 words.  I’ll need a stack more ideas/action/dialogue to write a 50 000 word novel in 30 days.  That about 1667 words per day.  I’m not really sure how I’m going to fit that much writing in around work, kids, after school activities, cooking and cleaning (think I’ll ditch the housework!) but, I’m going to give it a try anyway.

The official NaNoWriMo website has lots of helpful information on what to do and how to sign up.  Click here to check it out. Once you sign up, if you enter where you’re from you will receive messages about upcoming activities and events.  You can also visit a writer’s website and add them as a writing buddy. Furthermore, there are forums on which to chat about your novel and get help from fellow writers.

Has anyone taken up the NaNoWriMo challenge in previous years?  I’d love to hear how you went and if you have any tips or suggestions.

Who else is entering for the first time?

Wish me luck!  I start tomorrow.  🙂

On a Roll…

Last year and during the holidays I was busy busy busy writing and editing and entering competitions and submitting short stories and poems to magazines etc and…

… all my hard work and effort has finally paid off!!!

I thought I would share my excitement with you all 🙂

It all started towards the end of last year when I received an email from Georgie at Creative Kids Tales to say that I had received 2nd place in their “Spread Your Wings” story writing competition!  I won a manuscript appraisal by Dee White which was fantastic.  With her helpful suggestions and guidance I was able to cut out all the waffle, improve the setting and characters and ‘show’, not ‘tell’.

Then, in another email, Georgie asked if I would like to be the emerging author for February on the Creative Kids Tales Website so of course I said a big “YES PLEASE!” to that.

Just recently I heard back from New Frontier Publishing that my manuscript was unsuccessful, however, it has been selected by Little Steps Publishing who offer partnership-publishing.  I’m not familiar with this term and am yet to research it further.  Would love to hear from anyone who knows about partner-publishing (the pros and cons) or has had a book published this way.

I also entered many of the Positive Words Magazine monthly short story competitions and a couple of my stories have been shortlisted which is great encouragement.  It’s also a lot of fun and a challenge trying to write a short story with a particular key-word in 100 words or less!

And last but not least, the micro-fiction story I entered in the Short and Twisted writing competition (mentioned on Little Rockets) has been chosen for their Short and Twisted 2013 Anthology.   Yay!

So, goals this year –  keep working hard and aiming high and try to do just as well, if not better!!   Hope my roll of good luck continues.  How’s your writing going so far and what are your plans and goals for the year?