Litopia, and Rules That Aren’t Rules…

Hi! I’ve found a great site for writers called Litopia, run by publisher Peter Cox and contributed to by industry professionals. There’s loads of information and advice along with the chance to join the weekly Pop-up Submissions where you can send the first 700 words of your ms and have it critiqued in real time. It’s an invaluable resource and means your work is seen by a publisher. Definitely worth a look.)

I love that the writers on Litopia often share good blogs or features they’ve found, for every genre and age group. On one of the threads I saw this piece about Writing Rules by Marie Basting, a children’s writer. Her writing is fun and funny and a bit magical (no, I don’t know her). I grinned all the way through her book Princess BMX, which is for kids of 7+. But it’s the rules – okay, guidelines-come-industry truths – Marie mentions that are worth sharing. Especially the one about concept.

I’ve heard time and again that if an idea is good enough you stand a  better chance of being picked up than if, say, your prose is exquisite but the plotting dull. Even if your prose is a bit rough, if the idea (concept) shines brightly enough, someone will notice. That’s not to say you should chance your arm with dodgy punctuation, sloppy grammar and crap spelling – you might as well scrawl Spot The Amateur in big neon letters on the top of your manuscript. But great ideas sell books (who knew?) 🙂 Agents and publishers are always looking for the next big idea. So don’t obsess about minutiae. Get the big picture right.

Just thought I’d pass the links on.

As you were.

Kay
Treasure This
Electricink

Free image from pixabay.com

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We Have The Technology

You’ve written the book. You’ve finished the rewrites, put it all aside for months and then read it over again. You decide it’s not too bad. Good, even. You’ll take a chance. So, you line-edit it, proofread it and send it off…

And it’s rejected. Again.

Yes, it’s disheartening. Yes, you could have built the Great Wall of China waiting for agents or publishers to get back to you. No, you mustn’t give up. (And that’s not just a saying, you know. For most of us, it’s a way of life.)

Jody Sabral, author of I Never Lie, wrote an interesting piece for the BBC Entertainment and Arts recently: E-books. How digital publishers are ‘shaking up’ the industry.

This was an informative read for a few reasons. Not just because of the higher royalties writers can expect from digital publishers (and in an industry where traditional publishers so often shaft authors, this was good to see), or the technology that can tell you if readers finish your book (invaluable). The most important thing for me, and what I think would appeal to many writers, was when Jody Sabral mentioned being able to connect with readers via an app, and getting their comments and feedback live. That would be fantastic – almost like having your own group of Beta readers.

That made me aware of the whole new world that’s opening for writers. The creative world never stays still and, like so many things, the world of books is constantly changing.  That’s good because it means we are all constantly getting the chance to try new things – to reinvent ourselves and our writing, to try another genre or dabble in new technology. Not sure about something you’ve written, or just want to try something different? Put a few chapters up online to gauge reader reaction. There’s a whole new world of writing forums out there and there’s bound to be one you feel comfortable with. Use the technology we have to help you meet other writers, and get where you want to go.

Here are a few forums to whet your appetite.

getunderlined.com   (was figment.com)

Litopia.com

Mythicscribes.com

Scribophile.com

Wattpad.com

critique circle.com

Or just Google Best Creative Writing Forums and see what appeals to you.  As ever, take care and use common sense and courtesy when joining  any forum conversations/threads/discussions. Some sites are very well moderated (Litopia is excellent, professional and friendly), others, not so much.  Find somewhere you feel comfortable. There are so many tools and forums out there to help fiction and non-fiction writers, no matter what genre you prefer, whether you’re aiming for traditional or independent publishing or whether you write for adults, young adults or children, technology can help you.

There are always new opportunities opening up for writers. Consider everything.

Kay Leitch
Treasure This
co-founder of Electrik Inc

Posted in advice for writers, creative writing, independent publishing, Kay Leitch, Treasure This, Uncategorized, writing, writing as a career, writing tips, writing tips for children's authors | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Uh Oh, She’s Back…

I apologise. Those of you who follow this blog may have noticed I haven’t been here for a while.  Yeah, I know – most of you’ll be shrugging, like: ‘Really, Dude? Didn’t even notice…’ 😀   That’s okay – I’m sorry anyway. We were building up a nice wee head of steam, and I went and stopped the train. Naughty!

So, what took me away from this all-important blog?

Life. Life. Life.

And a big curved ball that I saw coming but had to deal with the fallout of anyway.

Time to move on. And I’m back with a bit of good news: here’s something much better than being waylaid by life: Gone Girl’s Gone, Hello Eleanor Oliphant: why we’re all reading ‘up lit’. This is a great feature that tells us ‘novels of kindness are infiltrating the best seller lists’.

Well, it’s about time. It’s good to know you can write about happiness rather than unmitigated misery and still find a readership. From The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon, to Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Thingsthese are not only great books to read, but they must have felt uplifting to write, too. And The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, the international best sellerby Rachel Joyce proves it doesn’t have to be all sweetness and light either. She mentions ‘the importance of light and shade’. I agree with that – I’m all for balance. Too much shade and things wither.

If you feel like this… or this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have to change it to this:

So if you’re looking back on the year and feeling a bit jaded by narcissists who blow everything apart because they don’t get their own way, or iniquitous, self-entitled, deceitful characters, or grim-dark apocalyptic fantasies filled with murder and mayhem, take heart. You can stride into the New Year and write about happiness, the kindness of strangers, and the strength of community. And fantastic new beginnings. Because your direction, and your focus, are up to you.

 

 

 

It’s good to know there are readers out there who want a bit more light, and magic, too.

Have a very happy Christmas, and happy writing in 2019!

Kay
Treasure This

Posted in advice for writers, independent publishing, Information on Independent Publishing, some quotes for writers, Uncategorized, writing, writing as a career | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Courage

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'”  Mary Anne Radmacher

That reminded me of my writing, so I thought I’d pass it on in the hope it inspires you too. We all have dispiriting days. Keep trying. Whatever it is you love, do it. If you cannot do it right now, that’s okay. Work, budget, family, life – all these things  interrupt or postpone our creativity. Just try again tomorrow. Everything you wrote today was rubbish (you think)? Try again tomorrow. Another rejection? Try again tomorrow. You get the message.

Here’s another one I love: “Fortune favours the prepared mind.” Dr Louis Pasteur

I know he was a scientist but I think he’d have made a good writer; writing is all about sharpening your mind and being prepared for anything. So, in brief: keep trying, and be prepared. That means sit down and finish your book, short story or poem. Have it ready to send off if suddenly a reputable magazine runs a writing competition, or an agent you thought had emigrated to a parallel universe because you haven’t heard from them in, like, aeons… finally gets in touch with the magic words: can we see the full manuscript… or you  get the chance to draw up your own marketing and publishing plan and decide to do it yourself.

Whatever you want to do, here’s a link to a blog that does some of the hard work for you and lists Calls for Submissions  for all kinds of writing. So, no excuses…
Write On! 🙂

Kay Leitch
Treasure This
Founder member of Electrikinc

picture: Courtesy of Pixabay

Posted in advice for writers, creative writing, editing and publishing, for children, Publishers looking for submissions, Publishers submissions, Uncategorized, writing, writing as a career, writing tips, writing tips for children's authors | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

John Yorke Into the Woods podcast

Had to share this fantastic podcast of an interview with John Yorke, covering effective use of structure in story, creating compelling characters, tips for subtle exposition and cliffhangers. It’s not often I listen all the way through an hour-long podcast but this was excellent – really informative. Well worth a listen.

Kay Leitch
Treasure This
Co-Founder of Electrik Inc

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Publishers Open to Submissions

Is 2017 the year you’ll complete your novel/children’s book/picture book…?
Start the new book-with-scenery-pixabayyear with some positive aspirations: here is a great list from Bookfox, of children’s and young adult publishers (mostly) open to submissions. Well worth a browse.

Make 2017 the year you do it.

Happy New Year and happy writing
to you all!

Kay Leitch
Treasure This
Co-Founder of Electrik Inc

 

Posted in advice for writers, Children's books, children's publishers looking for submissions, creative writing, electrik inc, Kay Leitch, Publishers looking for submissions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

When The Dragons Came To Play

(For Findley – born 19.04.2016)                                                              

The dragons came again today.
They came in style, as dragons do.
I thought they’d come to eat us up,
But they just wanted to meet… you.dragons-at-sunset

The sky was filled with dragons’ wings
And spiky scales of every hue.
Their amber eyes saw everything,
And glittered when they looked for you.

And the wind in the trees went woooosh, woooosh, shhhhhhh
When the dragons came to play.

findley-6-months-copyThey’d heard you were the bravest boy,
You seldom slept or seemed to tire,
But smiled at everything – and laughed
When they came breathing trails of fire.

Legend foretold your bluest eyes,
Sprinkled with magic, three times blessed.
And dust of stars within your heart
Meant you would master any quest.

And the wind in the trees went woooosh, woooosh, shhhhhhh
When the dragons came to play.

dragon-big-silhouette

 

They mentioned they had come before,
To barbeque us all, but when
They saw you smiling up at them
They turned and flew back home again.

They wondered if you’d like to go
Up to the mountains – you could fly
Straight to their lair on dragons’ wings,
And ride across the morning sky.

dragon-silhouettejpg

They’d make some toast with just one breath,
Play hide-and-seek behind the sun –
There were so many of their games
That you could try. You’d have such fun.

And the wind in the trees went woooosh, woooosh, shhhhhhh
When the dragons came to play.

I said we would consider that,findley-elephant
Though we had lots of things to do.
(It always pays to be polite
When dragons want to play with you.)

They said they’d take the greatest care,
That they would never let you fall.
They’d play some dragon games to see
How brave you really were, that’s all…

fikndley-tomato

 

 

They promised not to breathe on you,
Would bring you back in time for tea.
I thanked them very much, but said
I’d like to keep you here – with me.

And the wind in the trees went woooosh, woooosh, shhhhhhh
When the dragons came to play.

 

One dragon tapped his claw and hummeddragons-claw
A little tune. He looked quite nice,
Until I asked him if he knew
You had the gift of Fire and Ice?

dragon-and-sky

 

 

 

The dragon’s scales turned pasty grey,
And ice?” he stuttered, blinking fast.
I nodded. You sat there and smiled.
“Good grief, is that the time?” he laughed.

You traced a pattern on your hand.
A snow storm came, icicles grew.
The dragon’s breath puffed white with frost,
His ruby tail turned wintry blue.

findley-grinning-june-2016-copySnowflakes swirled, the north wind howled,
Dark clouds gathered, spitting rain.
But then you sighed a little sigh
And everything was calm again.

 

 

 

“It was an honour meeting you,”
The dragon bowed; soared to the sky.
A thousand wings beat after him
Into the sun. We waved Goodbye.

dragons-nto-sun2

And the wind in the trees went woooosh, woooosh, phhewwwww
When the dragons flew away.

* * * * * * *

dragon-every-hue

This poem was inspired by Findley, the smiliest, happiest baby that dragons have ever seenfindley-blockfindley-7-months

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kay Leitch
Treasure This
also published on electrikinc.wordpress.com

Pictures by Kay Leitch, Vicki Boyd; images from Pixabay

 

 

Posted in Children's books, creative writing, for children, Kay Leitch, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment