Friday 31 August 2018

Day 21 of 30 - Week 3 check-in

This'll be the last one of the day 'cos me pills are kicking in and it seems like as good a time as any to read just one more day then finish off the last 9 days tomorrow.

Day 20 of 30 - Do I need to pivot or keep trying?

Another wasted day... it started off so well and they've wasted 2 days out of 3 unfortunately  😟

Day 19 of 30 - getting traction

OK - your feedback about this blog and the Stories 4 Children site is needed.

Forget about what is already up there and what my future plans might be... this is all about you - what do *you* want to see most of all?  What's missing?  What's overdone that I'm just repeating needlessly and boringly?

I genuinely want to know what you think and how I can improve your visit and turn you into a repeat visitor and then into a member of the site.

I can't do this without you - I've been too selfish and got it totally wrong, from now on this is all for you but I don't know what you want!

I've got a Twitter account with the timeline thingy available but I don't have a Facebook page for the site yet... do you want me to work out how to create one?  If I do, should I put it on the visitors pages or the members area pages?

What about my LinkedIn page that I've barely looked at... want me to put that on the site too?  Which part of the site?

Please let me know what you want to read and experience... this blog and site is about you, my visitors and members!

Do any of you use ScheduleOnce?  If you do, would it be worth me signing up for an account with them and marking out half hour intervals for you to talk me through your ideas once a month or anything like that?

Day 18 of 30 - Feedback

Basically a few wasted pages here unfortunately... a day spent saying pretty much nothing  😞

The only disappointing day so far though so the book is definitely still worth a read, just don't expect to learn much on Day 18.  Sorry.

Day 17 of 30 - website creation

BTDT already lol

Still, it'll be interesting to read what they have to say about it!

Yup, it encourages you to quickly build your own site in the days 20 minute micro-block thingy so I've already completed Day 17 years before I found the book at the library!

Day 16 of 30 - Perfectionism

That's such a great thing to remember!  If you've got the book in front of you, I can't wait for you to read the first part of Day 16 'cos it says "When Top Dog growls, just sing out, 'Don't worry, be crappy!'" and that's an awesome way to remind your writers block or mid-manuscript slump that it's OK to be unsure in the first draft - just write *something* and you can change it when you get to the editing stage!

I've got a challenge for you.  Write something, anything, and send it to me, totally unedited.  I won't publish it on this blog or the site unless you are sure that you want me to, the challenge is to get something done and out there, totally unpolished then start on your next one, send that to me too... editing is NOT allowed for these, they are purely your practise pieces.  If you want me to publish them, lemme know if you want it on here, on the general visitor bit of the site or for only members to read and how you want me to credit you with it... it can be as simple as the first initial of your name or full copyright credit with a link to your email address or website - just let me know and I'll totally respect that decision.  The important thing is to get the imperfect version out there on the web where others can read it.

Day 15 of 30 - how do you deal with the inevitable slump in wanting to write or illustrate?

Not writers block, just the occassional off day where you just can't be bothered to open up Word let alone yWriter... that's what today will hopefully be about!

I was wrong, it's the mid-WIP bit where the excitement of starting your novel has worn off and the end is too far into the distance to really see right now (even if it's all planned out).

This is usually where I put a major bust up... not just a little argument, but a huge "you're not worth it you little cowbag!" type argument involving the main character and their biggest enemy/bully in the whole manuscript.  This is where the tension explodes into all kinds of fire and explosions so that you can keep writing until the last chapter, but also to keep your readers turning the pages too!

Day 14 of 30 - week 2 check-in

Not bad going for 2 days of reading, blog posting and a single Tweet yesterday afternoon/evening.

The virus scan will be finished tomorrow so I can post these then and reboot.  This book is really useful so far and I definitely recommend having a read of it if these blog posts have whetted your appetite!

Day 13 of 30 - don't try to please everybody, every time

What's my superniche?  Books for children and young adults... not just books or books for children but for teenagers too.  It's something I've got experience of, in an area I enjoy (books and children) and it's something that I'm personally involved in right now too, so understand the difficulties many people in the superniche may be feeling!

Day 12 of 30 - Quantity produces quality?

I'd say that practice produces quality, not necessarily quantity.  Something I only learnt at the start of this year (2018) was that even my best pieces of writing needed oneheckuva lot of editing instead of just sending off the first draft.  That's why I was so quickly rejected... I had wrongly thought that my first, totally unedited or even looked at since writing it, draft was perfect.

Those first rejections really hurt, but I can totally see why they were rejected now and totally agree with the rejections I went through now.  Editing should be your friend instead of your enemy!  Finish that first draft, write the synopsis then forget about it totally for at least 3 months before you edit it for the first time.  You're not allowed to even glimpse at it for those 3 months, you've got to totally forget everything you wrote, then that first day of editing will throw up all kinds of hidden errors that you had unintentionally overlooked while you were writing it.  It might be a misplaced full stop (period for my American readers) or comma but it could be a huge gap in the middle that you know happened in your head but it never made it onto the screen.  Things like that get you (and me) rejected but is easily fixed with a bit of editing.

According to the book I borrowed from the library, Ray Bradbury advised authors to "write a short story every week.  It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row" and I kinda agree.  Steve (the hubby and in-house-geek) chuckled and said "I'd give it a go!" and while he said it as a joke, he's just summed it up perfectly... write something every week and with practise you'll come out at the end of the year with 52 stories that can be whipped into shape either almost straight away (if you're a PB writer) or edited to wonderfulness and hopefully being accepted by the publisher or agent of your dreams!

Apparently Richard Branson (of the Virgin Group of businesses) was (and possibly still is) a real blagger.  I'm starting to become like that... what about you?

Day 11 of 30 - playing to your inner genius

This is gonna be a tough day to complete 'cos I've gotta write down five of my natural strengths... bear with me and please don't think I'm being big-headed, it's a genuine task to do on Day 11 in the book!!

OK, lets see:

1)  I care about most things and people.  It takes a lot to get me to dislike someone or something but it does happen occasionally.  Take it as read that I will always see the good in everyone and everything until or unless they do something to make me realise I was wrong.

2)  I'm stubborn like you wouldn't believe.  I never give up on anything until the last tiny atom of belief has been squelched out of me.  I believe in you and your talents and will always do my best for you, no matter what.  Same with the things I do, no matter what, I put my all into everything and the simpleist thing like one person reading a new blog post or a retweet or comment or something that takes seconds to do, mean the world to me and makes me fight even harder.

3)  I'm passionate and will defend the people and things that I care about for as long as I possibly can. 

4)  I will support you to the best of my ability as long as you are willing to accept my no-nonsense, straight talking personality.  I'm not saying that we'll always agree, but I won't say what I don't genuinely believe at the time I say it.

5)  I'm incredibly nosey.  If you give me a hint at something, then I want to know everything.  At the same time though, everything you say will remain confidential until you and only you tell me I can blab about it.

Oh boy... another five things that I've got to write five things about each of... this is gonna be a loooooong post!

OK, so the first of the five new items I've got to list is five things I find easy.  OK, that seems easy enough.

1)  I find it easy to love people and want the best for that person right from the start.

2)  I find it easy to type... I'm a touch typist so I can pretty much keep up with typing up a conversation as it happens, which really helps when it comes to NaNo and JanNo 'cos I can type faster than a lot of creative people so while other people might struggle to write 2,000 on a totally free day I could easily more than double that.

3)  I find it easy to lose myself in a good book and will often find more positives than negatives in the books I read.  If I'm critting a book I try and offer suggestions on how to improve this, that or the other rather than saying that it stinks of poo.

4)  I find it easy to listen to people, it's just the remembering that I have issues with right now because of my brain damage and my advice isn't always what people want or need to hear, but I will always listen whenever anyone needs to talk.

5)  I find easy to look after our pup.  She's an old lady now, but those yawns and kisses and wagging tail and genuine love from her makes even the grossest jobs (clearing up her poo from walks or the back yard) make it all worthwhile!

Next up is 5 things that I could easily teach someone.

1)  I could teach someone the basics of using yWriter to plan out their next novel and because it's free it's so much the better too.

2)  I could teach someone how to read food labels so that they could work out what is healthiest, what is suitable for vegetarians and which is the biggest ingredient in the food.

3)  I could teach someone how to use a TENS machine to get rid of their pain.

4)  I could teach someoneone the basics of writing for children and what age group each different type of book is for.

5)  I could teach someone how to start and write a blog post just like I'm doing now.

Next up is 5 things I have a deep understanding of:

1)  Mental illness has been in my life since I was 10 years old.  First as SAD then as reactive depression then as psychotic depression.

2)  Physical disability has been in my life for the last 15 years.  I look 'normal' when I'm sitting down, but I can't easily stand up or move on my own.

3)  Chocolate - I'm a self-proclaimed chocaholic but that didn't start until my last year at secondary school!  Before that I craved the natural sweetness in fruit... honest!

4)  Children - I'm qualified to work with children aged 12 months to 7 years 11 months but my favourite age group to work with is definitely toddlers.

5)  Bullying has been a huge part of my life from the age of about 5 years old all the way through to modern-day life as an adult unfortunately.

The last one is any unusual skills or traits I've picked up.  Hmmm, let's see what I can think of.  I used to know Teeline shorthand and I'm an audio touch typist who loves children, philosophy, children's psychology, writing books for children and Take That!  How's that?  lol

Now I've got to write about my genius spots.  Children is definitely a huge genius spot for me, whether it's writing for them, caring for them or learning about them.  According to the book, I'm already giving myself an 'unfair advantage' with this blog, the site and writing manuscripts for them... I just need to be taken on now!

Day 10 of 30 - becoming successful

My GENIUS is that I'm passionate about children's books and especially equal opportunities within those books.

If you've written a children's book that you want me to review for you then I'm more than happy to do that for you, like I said on the 30th, but if you tackle some kind of inequality in your book, you'll really pique my interest to keep reading what you've written!

Same with critting your manuscript - I'll crit anything for the right price, but if you tackle some kind of equal opportunity within it then I'll be well away.

Day 9 of 30 - Value is vital

WIIFM aka What's In It For Me - that's where I've been going wrong the whole time I've had this blog and site - I've been totally selfish and concentrated on *me* not you... I had this awesome idea about how it was going to be the best site in the world and I'd be inundated with applications from the first week with more money from my visitors than I knew what to do with... same with my books - I'd be a best-selling, popular author who had success coming out of her ears without even trying.

That obviously hasn't happened though.


Because I've been too selfish.

I've thought of what *I* could achieve rather than what *you*, my blog and site visitors want.

So, over to you, what can I do to help you to get what you want/need out of this blog and site?

I want your honest feedback... please?

Day 8 of 30 - nothing is unique any more

Because we're now in the twenty-first century, there's nothing that hasn't been done before, so the way to create something new is to pinch ideas from several different places, mash 'em up together and come up with something new.

Make sure you credit the people who created the original piece of work you are re-designing though otherwise it's plagiarism and illegal which could get you into all kinds of trouble which, I don't know about you, but I can't afford even basic legal advice and you'll be taken to court by someone who has way more money and support than you and I have.

I'm not saying that you can't use things that have already been created, just get permission FIRST then credit them with the original idea... nowt wrong with that at all!

Day 7 of 30 - review time!

Act and Reflect:

I only started it yesterday morning so it's still too early to see how things are going, but I'm into the routine of mindblocking now... as long as my internet connection stays up (it's gone down again for some reason) lol

I haven't done the daily tick sheet or the rest day 'cos I've only been doing this for 30-odd hours, including me being asleep overnight lol

I can pat myself on the back for swallowing my fear and making my first post to Twitter about this blog and the site... within half an hour of that post I'd had 2 views which is awesome!

What have I enjoyed the most and least?  I've enjoyed being able to really get into the book and make a blog post about what I learnt with each day as I went through it.  I didn't enjoy swallowing the fear and making that blog post but I'm proud of myself for doing it and I've just got to keep on swallowing the fear and doing it anyway... I learnt from those first rejections and continued submitting which has forced me into growing a much thicker skin and increasing my belief in myself.

I haven't had any feedback yet, but those 2 readers after I made the Tweet really boosted my confidence!

I can so do this!

Adapt:  I need to make more Tweets about my site to build interest in what I'm putting out there and hopefully start getting paying members.  People are following me for a reason, after all!

When I get my internet connection back I'll come up with a contract with myself.  Every day I will set aside a few hours to do something creative - either work on this blog or my site or even write another chapter.  I'm going to be a lot more creative and really work on what needs to be done... even if it's only for 20 minutes then that's more than I've been doing recently!

I'm hoping to spend the morning reading emails and stuff then as soon as it hits lunchtime I'm going to be creative for at least 20 minutes every day.

It's not the internet connection or even Blogger that is the problem, it's that I'm running the virus scan again.  Maybe I need to spend all of Friday being creative and not using the internet at all when the scan puts a stop to it?

Just rebooted, so I'm gonna post this then not use the internet until the virus scan has finished.  It's a pain in the bum but ho hum!

Day 6 of 30 - Act, Reflect, Adapt

This is a good writing day too:

Act: write that manuscript and submit it
Reflect: get rejected/taken on and drown your sorrows/celebrate with drinking chocolate
Adapt: double check that query letter and manuscript are exactly what has been asked for by the next agent/publisher, edit if necessary then submit to the next one.

You can do it... it just has to be the right manuscript to the right agent/publisher at the right time is all!

I'm at the Act stage with two agents and a publisher with two MG manuscripts atm, what about you?

Day 5 of 30 - playing doesn't have to be perfect

This one sounds like a good chapter about not having to be perfect first time.  Yeah, but by the same token most things need to be edited and maybe re-written before it's publishable too!

That's what I'm offering... a way for you to have a totally independent person that you don't know being honest with you about what works and what doesn't.  I've never been taught how to be gentle and my brain damage means that I have to say something immediately so that I don't forget it.

You will be getting my immediate thoughts and feelings about your manuscript with no kind of sugar-coating at all.  I do it with your best interests at heart though.  Always.

That's the tweet written and posted... hello to those who've just seen it - thank you for joining me!

Thursday 30 August 2018

Day 4 of 30 - last one of today!

Apparently this part is about setting up my headquarters for this, which is pretty much already done I reckon.  It'll be interesting to see what the book says what else I need in my HQ though!

Already learnt something... Evernote will hopefully become my best friend over the next few days now that I've pinned it to my taskbar!

Day 3 of 30 - going where the buyers are

There are some useful sites in this book as long as you've got something physical to sell.

I haven't.

All my stuff is creative driven but if you want a book reviewed or manuscript feedback or anything like that, just email me here and we can discuss prices.  Members get discounted things, obviously, as well as free updates to the software, but until I've got members I'm charging 1p per word of any children's manuscript right now.

I can't guarantee publication or representation or anything, but I can give you an honest opinion of your pride and joy as long as you're happy for me to rip it to pieces if it needs it!

Already published but want a review?  No problem.  Email me with the length of your book and the synopsis of it and if I agree to review it, we can discuss prices.  When you've paid, send me a .pdf of it and I'll put my review on Amazon, this blog and the site.

My in-house-geek is in the process of coming up with a shop for these kinda things so it'll hopefully be easier soon, but while we're waiting, just email me and let me know what you want me to do and how much you're willing to pay and we can then discuss it  😀

Day 2 of 30 - Microblocking

Just learning about something called "Microblocking" in the book.

Don't know what that is?  Neither did I half an hour ago!

It's basically setting a minimum of 20 minutes aside every day (as an appointment or meeting if you need to) and doing just one task during those 20 minutes.  Turn off your phone, close down your email and internet browsers... those 20 minutes need to be uninterrupted, right?

OK, so you've got a peaceful 20 minutes, what do you do with them?

Whatever you need to.

For me, that's reading the book and making these blog posts.

That's it.

Nothing else.

I don't have a job so I'm free to do this for as long as I need to.

You might not be though, and that's totally OK.

Wake up half an hour earlier or go to bed half an hour later and those 30 short minutes will be your microblocking time.  If that's a struggle, fit it into your lunch hour at work.

You can do this!

It'll be hard at first like the next few days will be for me until I get into a new routine but we can do it together if you like?  I'm going to block out lunchtime and all afternoon every day to work through the book because it needs to be returned in 20 days time.

It'll really help to prepare me for my education with the OU though... I just need to get into the routine of setting aside some time to concentrate every day and the next 20 days will be the start of my new routine... what about you?  Are you going to join me in getting into the new routine?

That's a point!

I know it's only a couple of minutes since my last post, but if you're a writer or illustrator or editor or publisher or agent or anything else to do with stories for children, post a single paragraph in reply to this post to let me know what you want me to focus on in this blog, then email me with a longer explanation of what you're looking for in an agent or client or whatever.

I'll put the paragraph you post on the public site and the longer, more detailed information into the members area on my site... who's going to be first?

I'm online for like 10-12 hours a day so it'll be up before you know it!  👍

Now would be a good time to join the site... you'll be able to grow with it then!

Day 1 of 30... are you coming along for the ride?

I've borrowed a book from my local library called "screw work break free" by John Williams and I'm gonna make this blog my first "playcheque"... are you going to join me on the journey?  Do you know other children's story enjoyers that may like to follow the journey too?  Let 'em know!  Copy and paste the URL from up there ^^ in the address bar and email it to them!

Thank you for joining me on this new step.  Thank you for your support and Steve's putting the kettle on for a cuppa for me but there's tea or drinking chocolate or even coffee if you want it instead?

Leave me a comment on this post and let me know you're with me, supporting me on this new journey!

Thursday 23 August 2018

Blushing in people who are BAME

I've got a mixed race family in "Keep Out!" and the MC blushes red/crimson a couple of times. This next bit is going to sound sooo racist but that's exactly what I want to avoid so I can only apologise in advance.

When I first wrote it, I'd intended the family to be white and black and that's in the MS near the beginning. I want the family to be obviously black 'cos Jools, Logan and Zion are all bulied because of the colour of their skin, but can BAME people blush red/crimson IRL if they are mixed race? If not, how can I illustrate embarrassment in the MS in a show rather than tell way please?

Like I said, I don't want to be racist but at the same time I want to get my facts straight too!

It's a realistic MG novel so they can't blush green or anything like that! lol

Thank you!

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Spent all day editing...

All I've done the entire day is editing of the MG novel called 'Keep Out!' so I'm gonna check my email for the first time today now  lol

Monday 20 August 2018

Beta reading and critting

I'm thinking of adding a service to my site that I beta-read/crit a children's manuscript for 1p per word.

Should I make it publicly available to all visitors to my site or just for members or both (1p per word for Jo Public and 1p per 100 words for members)?  Picture books would be £1 for everyone as they are so short.

As always, all thoughts are welcome!

Currently updating my...

Thanks to SCBWI overnight and this morning, I realised I hadn't updated my author's CV since December 2016 so I've been working on that this morning and realising just how much authory type experience I've got and how much doing the free courses really have helped to improve it!

If you're looking for an agent, like me, then I definitely recommend getting to work on your author's CV (not your "normal" CV, an additional one reserved purely for agents and publishers) just in case they spring the "show us yer writing CV then" when you get that full manuscript request... you can then go "no probs, it's attached" in reply to their email instead of rushing to put one together and not creating such a good impression after all. 

Better to be too prepared and not need it, than totally unprepared I reckon!  👍😀

Thursday 16 August 2018

With thanks to my in-house geek...

Just put up a new page in the members area but couldn't get either of the navigation dooberries to show up, so I grovelled with my in-house geek and it was sorted within 5 minutes!

Thank you so so much, Steve!

Book review: "Who's taken it?" by Andrew Green

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

What an adorable little book!  

The names at the start will be hard for younger children to get their head around because they are long and complicated but that's the only reason I'm knocking off a star.

It's cute, funny and it really rhymes.  The pictures on each page are adorable and he's put a couple of spreads on their sides which are awesome!

WTG, Andrew!  Keep up with the great work and I can't wait to read your next one!

If you've got a child who is pre-school to Year 2 then definitely get this book for them, if your child is below pre-school then you may find you have to read the first few pages a few times before they understand the names that the author has used.

A definite must read for young children at any time of day though!

Saturday 11 August 2018

If you subbed to March Hamilton...

If you subbed to March Hamilton during July, then you prolly already know this, but just in case...

They are going to be emailing everyone who subbed with feedback on their submission over the next few days and they've got another submission window open to everyone starting on Monday so don't give up too soon!  Finish polishing a different manuscript ready to sub to them next week then be prepared to take on their feedback on your manuscript, act on it, edit and try somewhere else... it's not often that you get feedback on your submission from a publisher so grab this opportunity with both hands!

This is copied and pasted from the email they sent to everyone yesterday:

Our next submission window is opening soon!

From the 13th of August - the 30th of September our submissions will be open to EVERYONE. Anyone who has written a book for children and Young Adults is free to submit their writing during this window, using the guidelines on the 'Submissions' section of our website.

We look forward to seeing what you've got to share with us!

It's a 6 week long submission window so take your time to get it right first.  Don't give up and don't rush it, but get that editing hat on and really focus on getting everything as right as possible ready for the next submission window!

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Oh dear, I seem to have caused...

It was a simple question - how do you spell the female version of vampire.  Nothing more, nothing less and 2 people have been arguing on my Twitter feed with each other about if it should be vampiresse or just plain vampire.

I honestly didn't mean to cause the argument, I just wanted to be sure of my spelling in the first draft of my WIP but a couple of people are at each others throats about it now!


Sorry everyone!

Book review: Don't let me go by Jamila Mikhail

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a good book, but the spelling mistakes of certain words and occasional "you what?" bits due to the author obviously thinking of one way to write the sentence then changing her mind part way through and instead of deleting the part she wants to re-word, the author has just gone on to the new version part way through the sentence.

It was a bit weird with it being in first person for a couple of chapters but when I got into the book I got used to it and didn't think any more of it.

The author has really put a creative spin on how a teen really does feel.  Buy this book, as long as you can skip over the errors in it.

Monday 6 August 2018

First chapter is always the hardest

Just finished the first chapter which is always the hardest for me to write, so I've just got 49 chapters at 1500 words each to write and it's finito. 

It definitely helps to have the scenes within each chapter planned out, especially the first and last few chapters, but I obviously planned this one before I understood how scenes work and I really appreciate being able to write according to a tight plan now! 

Twas difficult at first, but it's so much easier to write 250-500 words (depending on the type of book) for each scene and not forget anything, than planning the whole chapter in a sentence then totally forget about something vital until several chapters too late like I did before I discovered yWriter and especially now that I understand the scene planning!

Terror in the year 3000

Just making a start on writing my first ever sci-fi romance YA novel this afternoon.  I didn't plan out the scenes so it's gonna be even harder to write but I'm sure it'll be fine when I've got into the main character's head in the first couple of chapters!

Friday 3 August 2018

And it's all finished!

Just finished writing the synopsis... the yWriter one didn't make sense so I typed it all out meself instead.

The synopsis needs to be edited at some point, but it's OK for now.

That's all the editing done and dusted

That's the editing finished, just gotta finish me crisps and write the synopsis now!  😌

Thursday 2 August 2018

Edited up to...

I've edited up to chapter 34 this afternoon, so as long as I remember to keep editing from there it'll be finished by bed time tomorrow then I've just gotta work on the synopsis for it... assuming I remember what happens in each chapter of course!  Might fire up yWriter and see if I planned it out in there.

Yep, I planned out the novel in yWriter so it's pretty much all in there, ready for me to finish editing so that I can do the synopsis!  Yay!  👍

3 down, 1 to go

Finished editing the picture book and 2 early readers, so I'm gonna make a start on my JanNo novel now... it's just under 50k so hopefully it'll be ready to rock and roll by this time tomorrow!

1 down, 3 to go

Just edited the picture book, so I've got 2 early readers and a novel left to edit now.  I'm hoping to get the early readers sorted before I head to bed then I'll work on the novel tomorrow and over the weekend.  I can so do this.