Many thanks to Amanda, for letting me write a guest blog post!
I’ve been writing for children for about five years now. I’d wanted to for many years before that, but I never had the time – or I thought I didn’t. Looking back, I think that I just needed to make a start, because once I got started, I felt motivated to continue, even when time was short.
Ever since I was really small, I’ve always loved reading. As a child, my favourite books were the Paddington books by Michael Bond, which really inspired me to be a reader and – later on – a writer.
When I first started writing I bought a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook, and as soon as my first chapter book, ‘The Secret of the Wooden Chest’, was complete, I went through the yearbook and looked at the lists of agents, trying to decide who seemed like the best fit for my book. I sent it out to a few agents before I realised that it probably needed editing, and so I used Cornerstones Literary to help me with a copy edit. But I still wasn’t successful in finding an agent who was interested and so, eventually, I decided to self-publish it with Matador (the self-publishing imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd).
Matador advised me to get a cover illustration ready and so, after yet more googling online, I turned to Ian R Ward, who produced a beautiful cover illustration for my first book.
Since then I’ve been doing school visits with these two books, and also continuing with new writing projects. Currently I’m working on a Middle Grade book for slightly older children.
One thing I really love about taking my self-published books into schools is the enthusiasm of the children I meet, who are usually not only really keen on reading, but also exciting about writing. For this reason, I sometimes suggest a writing competition for the classes I visit. I then go back to the school a couple of weeks later to collect the children’s stories and take them home to read. Their imagination and powerful storytelling never cease to amaze me!
Since self-publishing, I’ve joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and have attended several of their workshops, which has really helped me to develop my skills. Last year I even attended their UK conference for the first time, where a whole weekend’s worth of workshops and talks inspired me with further ideas. One of the best things I leaned at the conference, was that a writer should spend a big chunk of their time reading – both inside and outside the genre they write in – so that they can learn from other writers. I’ve always loved spending a lot of time reading, but now, as well as reading for relaxation, I feel that I can justify spending even more time reading, and I consider it to be part of the work of learning to be a writer!
So, whether you’re a reader or a writer – or both – keep reading!