What Publishers are Asking for

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You may remember that I was going to KidLit2017 on the 20th of May. Among other things I got to hear some really interesting panel discussion with people in the publishing industry – specifically children and young adult publishing.

A recurring theme during these discussions was the idea of diverse voices. Unsurprisingly authors for children and young adults mostly come from white, middle-class, backgrounds. You only had to look around the auditorium to see that. Publishers were saying that they would like to see stories from other groups of writers.

If you are white and middle-class (that’s me) then your first reaction might be to get defensive. Let’s all take a breath. Of course you can write any story you want and from any perspective you want. That is part of the joy of writing. But you should ask yourself, is that story truly yours to tell? Is it best served by you telling it? Is that community best served by you telling their story? Are you appropriating someone else’s story and culture? This may be hard to hear but here’s the truth – it’s not about you.

Encouraging writers from different backgrounds to tell their own stories is a win for everyone. Those writer’s and their communities win because they’re represented in authentic ways. Readers win because they get great stories told from a real perspective. And writers who fall into the ‘white and middle-class’ category win because we get to support other writers and still tell our own stories. And that’s what we, and all writers, do best.

DIY Writers’ Retreat

For Christmas my darling husband bought me a voucher for a two night stay in a cottage in Daylesford (which is in the Victorian spa region and one of my all time favourite places to visit). Here’s the important bit, this stay is just for me. On my own. So I can WRITE!

I’ve yet to book my stay (because it needs to be off-peak and we’re just coming out of summer) but I’m so excited. I think about it all the time. Because with two young children plus the cat, fish, chickens, elderly friend, extended family and a home to look after time alone to write is more precious to me than diamonds (although if he had given me diamonds I certainly wouldn’t have been complaining).

But I’ve never been on a writer’s retreat and I’m curious, if you have what did you do? What did you take? How did you manage your time?

And if you haven’t, why not? Do you plan to? Did you (like me) not really know they existed?

I’d love to hear from you and of course, when I finally go, I’ll let you know all about it.

The Balancing Act

We all have different pulls on our time. For me, I have two children (aged 4 and 6), a husband (although he’s pretty self-sufficient it’s nice to actually spend time with him), a writing career that I’m trying to get started, family, friends, neighbours, chores, pets, hobbies, a ‘to-read’ pile. You might have all these and more. The fact is, we all need to balance our lives otherwise we end up overwhelmed and under-satisfied.

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When In Doubt…

Have you heard that saying, “When in doubt, chuck it out.”? I think it’s applied to food. As in that chicken that’s a day past it’s use by date but it looks OK and you haven’t got anything else to cook for dinner but there’s definitely some doubt as to whether you’ll give the entire family food poisoning or not.

The bit that catches me though, is the ‘when in doubt’ part. Because when aren’t I in doubt. And when I watch my sons, who are now 6 (almost 7 Mum) and 4 (almost 5 and a big boy Mum), they’re often dealing with doubts too. So doubt seems to be a normal part of life.

I have a lot of doubt about my abilities as a writer and my abilities to make writing into a paying career. But I think there’s some things that I (and you) can do to take control of doubt.

1. Get feedback. Honest feedback. Honest but constructive feedback. Because nothing assuages the doubt like someone telling you, one way or the other, whether something you’ve done is crap or not (in the nicest possible way.)

2. Get educated. Read a website or a book or go to a course and find out if that thing you’ve done and your not sure about was actually done in the best way…and how you can do it in the best way.

3. Get perspective. Are you being to hard on yourself? Or unrealistic with your goals? Do your doubts stem from the fact that you’ve only just started something but you’d like it be further along than it is? If so, it might be time to take a walk and think it through. You might find that you can think yourself out of your doubts.

So, when faced with doubts, I’m going to give these strategies a concerted effort. Because while doubt can be useful it can also be crippling if you’re not controlling it.

What doubts do you have? And how do you keep them in check?

Summer Break…

I’m going to be taking a break for December and January. Of course, when I say break I’ll still be working on my novel, looking after my kids and everything else that goes with life. But I’ll be taking a break from Pieces of String.

When I come back there’ll be more tips for young writers, more book reviews, more blog posts and, I’m hoping, monthly writing competitions.

I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.

Lots of love…


The Westbury Faery — Tiny Owl Workshop

It’s lovely to be able to announce that Tiny Owl Workshop is working with The World Faery Society and Terry Whidborne to publish a book on The Westbury Faery. Submissions for flash fiction and short stories are open from now until midnight on 28 February 2017. For details, visit the utterly fabulous World Faery Society (WFS) website, explore the […]

via The Westbury Faery — Tiny Owl Workshop

If you’re a life-long faery believer like me, or have newly come to the faery realm, you should definitely check this out. I’m currently having issues accessing the website (proof, I think, that the faeries know we’re on to them. Who is crashing my computer? Why are you doing this? I can see you just out of the corner of my eye. I’m not fooled you know!), but it looks like a wonderful adventure.