Tag Archives: writers

The Giant Drop

Many times, I’ve been told the writing game is an emotional roller coaster ride. Ups, downs, hill climbs, racing downhill, loop-the-loops… From my experiences, I’m more inclined to match it to The Giant Drop; one of Dreamworld’s ‘Big 9 Thrill Rides’, particularly the vulnerability of submitting manuscripts to publishers.

Note: If The Giant Drop is unfamiliar to you, please click here. 🙂

Stage One: Emotional preparation AKA plucking up courage
Six months in the making and my story is complete. I’ve had it professionally edited and it shapes up really well. I’ve researched a list of publishers accepting manuscripts and cross-checked that my story meets their submission criteria. I’m pumped, confident, ready-to-go. I even get my friends and family involved in the pre-ride excitement. This book is going to be the next best-seller. Hurry! Let’s get on the ride!

I submit.

Stage two: The waiting line
All pepped and ready, I approach the line-up. Ugh… The long, tiring, mood-busting wait. Honestly, do these hundreds and hundreds of people all want to be published authors, too? Hopefully, my hidden gem will pop out of the pile and the editors will call me to the front of the line. Quick! I’d better refresh my email account. Inbox = 0.

Oh…

The wait continues.

Stage three: The lift
After three (sometimes more) agonising months of waiting, I finally arrive at the front of the line. The publisher’s email has arrived (this example is a fortunate occasion where I’ve actually received a response).
I stare at the unopened message that blinds me with its bold font and confronting subject line; ‘Re: Your manuscript submission’. My finger hovers over the mouse. Do I really want to open this?
The bars come down over my shoulders and across my lap. I’m bolted in and the rise begins. There’s no turning back now. I feel sick, my breathing is rapid. If I close my eyes, will that make it easier to deal with? As I look down at how far I’ve travelled, slight confidence hits. I really am excited by this. I can do it. It’s going to be okay.

The ride locks in place and I anticipate its release.

Click.

Stage four: The drop
My stomach slams into my throat and it’s difficult to catch my breath. I want to scream, but can only manage a gasping shriek. ‘Thank you for your manuscript. Each year, we receive hundreds of submissions, but are only able to publish a select few. Unfortunately…’

When am I going to stop falling? Who can I blame for encouraging me to endure this horrid feeling? I’m doomed. Going on this ride was a BAD decision. How foolish must I be to think this would end well?

Never again!

Stage five:
The recovery

The ride pulls up and comes to a ‘gentle’ stop. Despite my doubts, I survived, and although I’m left with a slight feeling of nausea, I feel accomplished. I challenged myself and I was brave. Now, I’m left with no regrets. Although the drop was scary, it’s shown me I can do it, and next time, I’ll have a more experienced approach.

The bars are lifted and I feel free and a little more confident. I did it! I am okay. After a few deep breaths (and maybe a nice, warm bubble bath and some ‘me’ time), I’m ready to go again.

And, so, it begins once more…

Q: If you were to compare your writing journey to an amusement ride, which would you choose?
Q: Which ‘stage’ of the ride are you on right now?

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Filed under Renee Price, Writing Tips

The Rise and Rise of Shelly Unwin Part 2

shelly unwin jwfk                                                               zoo shelly unwin

Today is Part 2 of my interview with Shelly Unwin – newly signed author. For part 1 go here

(I’ve highlighted some themes to pick up on at a later date)

So Shelly, you had an editor interested from the Sutherland Shire Writer’s Festival editor consultation, and you had sent the manuscript to an editor you had met at a SCBWI conference. What happened then?

With an interested editor the pressure was on to really polish the other four first drafts. My critique group was fantastic, agreeing to give me email feedback as I worked, as well as face to face during our meetings. The other four manuscripts were also very compliant and came together very willingly. The publisher from the Southerland festival was excited by the two manuscripts and asked for the other three.

I was also booked in to the Literary Speed Dating event through the ASA on the 15th November and I wanted to have five polished manuscripts by then. I pitched the series to two publishers at this event and both were keen to see the full series. I also pitched it to (my now) agent Alex Adsett, who could see the commercial potential of the series and after some additional dialogue agreed to represent me. In the mean time I was also doing a course at the Faber Academy for my Young Adult novel, and I was asking my tutor for advice on signing with Alex. My tutor asked me about the series I was discussing with Alex and then asked if she would be able to pass the series on to the Children’s Publisher there at Allen & Unwin – of course I said yes. So it was now in the hands of five publishers, all of whom were showing an interest.

Wow! Five interested publishers how exciting! But with five interested publishers why did you feel you needed an agent?

Having it in the hands of five publishers was a dream come true, in fact it was beyond what I’d ever let myself dream. But I was suddenly dreading the phone ringing. What did I do when one of them made an offer? If more than one house made an offer how would I manage that process without upsetting anyone? The fear of the next stage was taking the shine off what was otherwise an incredibly exciting situation. So an agent really was the answer. Alex has great industry knowledge, and specializes in contract negotiations so she was the perfect agent to provide me with unbiased, commercial guidance.  So at this point I really handed the reigns over to Alex. Once the first offer came through, which was fantastic, Alex gave the other four publishers a week to respond. By the end of the week we had two publishers who had put offers on the table, and the exciting decision process started there.

How did you decide who to go with? That couldn’t have been easy?

It wasn’t! Both offers were from incredible publishing houses. I would have been happy to sign either contract the minute it arrived on the doorstep. That’s where Alex really helped. We discussed both of the offers in great detail and really worked through what was important to me. I then had a meeting with both publishers to get an understanding of what they were hoping to achieve with the books and how they envisaged them looking and feeling. Allen & Unwin were so aligned with my thoughts, but not only my thoughts, also with my enthusiasm and ambition for the books. I also met with the CEO there, who had read my blog!! And who told me how excited he was by my work, I walked away from the meeting buzzing! And slightly apprehensive about writing my next blog piece – the pressure was on! Alex then led the contract discussions, and walked me through the complexities of world rights, film rights, discount sales percentages etc – all of which were new to me. And from there it was done. Allen & Unwin was home to the series and it feels so right. Should I point out here that although my surname is Unwin, I am no relation!

You may not be a relation, but it’s a great fit with your name! Do you have an illustrator signed?

No illustrator signed just yet, but some very exciting conversations in progress. I’ll tell you as soon as I can!

So now you just twiddle your thumbs until the books come out?

Yes, I might head off to an exotic island and relax for a year or so 🙂

No. I have another picture book that is looking very promising and I am also working on a new manuscript that I am totally buzzing about. Plus I have a tonne of manuscripts that I have been working on over the last few years that I continue to tweak. I have also written a Young Adult novel that is currently going through the re-writing, re-writing, re-writing phase, and one day it might be ready to leave the nest. I will continue to take courses, network, critique and do all things writerly in the mean time – it’s all so much fun!

 

I appreciate Shelly’s willingness to be interviewed for this blog – we may still be able to squeeze another post out of her experiences next month!

For Shelly’s website: http://shellyunwin.com

For Debra’s website: http://www.debratidball.com

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Filed under Author Interviews, Debra Tidball

Practice Makes Perfect

In my last post interview with Shelly Unwin, she said: If I’d had the same idea three years earlier though, my execution wouldn’t have been anywhere near where it was when this idea formed. I had taken time to learn the craft and really understand how to structure a picture book and really speak to the child. So I was in a prime position to take the idea and write it well.                            

The idea that the more you write, the better you get is an idea that has been intriguing me over the last little while, so much so that I wrote a post on it over on my website. I especially love the quote from a book called Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, “You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn’t very good.” Not that I’m saying what Shelly wrote before wasn’t very good! In fact I know that some of it was very, very good! But we all sit on top of a bundle of not-so-good works that prop us up to do better and better.

 

words mountain

 

Sandy Fussell extended my thinking on this with a recent blog post where she says that writing in other areas, not just her major work in progress is “ Like sharpening pencils, it sharpens my creative awareness. If my tools are in excellent condition, it lifts my writing.”  (http://www.sandyfussell.com/you-cant-write-with-a-blunt-pencil/)

Last week I came across a website that graphically illustrates the concept, and draws on another ‘pet’ issue of mine – writing is play (also blogged about on my website) Because if we don’t love what we do, what sustains us through all the practice and ‘failures’ of the writing life?

The way Stephen McCranie over at doodle alley http://doodlealley.com/  demonstrates both these elements in an engaging comic about a pig has inspired me over the last week. Although about visual art, the truths can be generalised to most creative endeavours. If you pop on over to his website and sign up for his newsletters, you will be rewarded with “The secret of being a great artist”– so much wisdom packaged in an engaging way – well worth it! And while you are there, check out his ‘Brick by Brick’ comic blog for fantastic insights on the creative process.

Disclaimer: I am in no way related to, or have anything to gain by promoting doodle alley – I stumbled across it from a facebook post and thought it worth sharing!

Debra’s website is at www.debratidball.com

Shelly Unwin is at www.shellyunwin.com

Sandy Fussell is at www.sandyfussell.com

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Filed under Author Interviews, Debra Tidball, Writing Tips

A Happy Place

What brought you to writing? Has it been a life-long dream to see your stories in print? Is it a fresh career change? A creative path you’ve been encouraged to follow?

Since a young age, I’ve had the desire to create. From stories to songs, poems to plays, writing was my escape; my ‘happy place’. 🙂

As an adult, my escape became a little distant. Life got in the way – I’m sure we can all relate. My love for writing remained, but ideas lacked, and creating was rarely executed. I didn’t realise how much this affected me, until after the birth of my first child.

Parenthood is certainly an eye-opener, and in more ways than one! You can tell yourself you’re prepared, and in some respect, this is possible, but the perceived emotional and physical readiness falls about fifty football fields short of the reality that tiny bundle of joy brings.

I’m not going to lie, I struggled. Whether it was the delayed recovery from childbirth, the additional physical needs my son required, or simply the loss of sleep I once thought I could survive without, things quickly mounted, and I wasn’t coping.

After several visits to a counsellor, I began finding myself again, and enjoying my little one, rather than living in fear. At night, I would sit in a rocking chair in his room, telling him stories and singing songs, until he fell asleep. It brought peace to us both.

One night, I remember becoming overwhelmed with emotion. The bond we shared and the effect of my words, voice and embrace, brought immeasurable comfort. This was now my happy place.

That night, I started writing again. The piece was titled, One of a Kind. It reflected my thoughts on difference and uniqueness, and that if we accept ourselves and all our quirky traits, we can find true contentment. I wrote this piece for me, but more importantly, I wrote it for my son.

And I haven’t looked back.

Image for JWFK Aug blog postRenee x
#JustWriteForKidsOZ

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Filed under Renee Price

Welcome from the Founder of Just Write For Kids

Welcome

 

The Just Write For Kids (JWFK) community of emerging and established Australian writers and illustrators are thrilled to present our new blog for bringing participants in the children’s literature world up-to-date information, writing and publishing tips, education, news, reviews and interviews.

JWFK has a strong commitment to engaging and supporting others in the Australian children’s literature community.

We aim to promote passion and the value of quality books and education for young people around the world. This blog also hopes to raise the profile of book creators and their important role in advocating literacy for children and young Australians.

In doing so, JWFK strives to facilitate an encouraging community for writers, illustrators, teachers and parents to come together to learn and share knowledge.

We look forward to having you join us as a part of our creative team!

 

Romi Sharp – Founder and director, Just Write For Kids.

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Filed under Romi Sharp, Uncategorized