I love getting letters from readers in the post. Real letters are far more fun than emails. I love opening the envelopes, unfolding the letter inside, holding the exact piece of paper that a little while ago the sender was writing on. There’s something quite magical about letters.girl writing

This week I answered three letters from young readers. Two of them were from Ireland, one was from the UK. Each contained questions for me. I thought I’d answer some of these questions below. Maybe they are questions that you would also ask me if you could.

Some of the letters from my young readers
Some of the letters from my young readers

If you’d like to write to me, I’d be delighted. The address is: Sarah Webb c/o Walker Books, 87 Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HJ, England. I promise to write back to you.

Sarah, how did you get the idea for Amy Green?

My teen diaries. As a teen I wrote in them every day and it was fascinating reading back and seeing what made me happy, upset or angry at 14, 16 or 18.

Who or what inspired you to write?

Judy Blume, Enid Blyton and all the wonderful writers I read as a child. I was and still am a huge, devoted reader. I found friends on the pages of books. Reading inspired me to write.

What is Ireland like (this was from a UK reader) and where do you live?

West Cork
West Cork

I live in Dun Laoghaire – below – a town 7 miles from Dublin city which has a large harbour. It has a great cinema, a theatre and the best library in Ireland, the Lexicon. We live on a long street which winds its way up a hill from the sea. In Ireland you are never far from the countryside and if you drive for a little while you’ll hit green fields, hills and mountains.

I also spend a lot of time in West Cork – above – which has the most stunning landscape. The people are very special too, warm, friendly and funny.

It’s hard to say what Ireland is like. It is a place where books and stories and cherished, which I think makes it very special. What I do know is that for me it’s home and although I love to travel, my heart belongs to Ireland.

Dun Laoghaire
Dun Laoghaire

What was your dream job as a child?

Writer. It just goes to show that sometimes dreams really do come true if you work hard enough and follow your heart.

What is being a writer like?

Do you write all day?

I’ll answer these two questions together. I have lots of different kinds of days – writing days, school visit days, festival planning days, reading and reviewing days, teaching days. Most writers don’t just write, especially children’s writers – they do lots of other things too.

Every week I spend 2 or 3 mornings writing – from 10am to 2pm – and 2 days visiting schools, teaching creative writing, reviewing and doing other bits of work relating to books. I try to write 2k words every time I sit down at my desk, that’s my aim. I often don’t hit this target, but sometimes I do.

At the moment I am Writer in Residence in Dún Laoghaire so from September I will be hosting book clubs for young readers and writing workshops, that will be fun.

What job would you do if you weren’t a writer?

A children’s bookseller. One day I hope to own my own children’s bookshop. Watch this space!

This post first appeared on the Girls Heart Books website.

 

I love getting letters from readers in the post. Real letters are far more fun than emails. I love opening the envelopes, unfolding the letter inside, holding the exact piece of paper that a little while ago the sender was writing on. There’s something quite magical about letters.girl writing

This week I answered three letters from young readers. Two of them were from Ireland, one was from the UK. Each contained questions for me. I thought I’d answer some of these questions below. Maybe they are questions that you would also ask me if you could.

Some of the letters from my young readers
Some of the letters from my young readers

If you’d like to write to me, I’d be delighted. The address is: Sarah Webb c/o Walker Books, 87 Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HJ, England. I promise to write back to you.

Sarah, how did you get the idea for Amy Green?

My teen diaries. As a teen I wrote in them every day and it was fascinating reading back and seeing what made me happy, upset or angry at 14, 16 or 18.

Who or what inspired you to write?

Judy Blume, Enid Blyton and all the wonderful writers I read as a child. I was and still am a huge, devoted reader. I found friends on the pages of books. Reading inspired me to write.

What is Ireland like (this was from a UK reader) and where do you live?

West Cork
West Cork

I live in Dun Laoghaire – below – a town 7 miles from Dublin city which has a large harbour. It has a great cinema, a theatre and the best library in Ireland, the Lexicon. We live on a long street which winds its way up a hill from the sea. In Ireland you are never far from the countryside and if you drive for a little while you’ll hit green fields, hills and mountains.

I also spend a lot of time in West Cork – above – which has the most stunning landscape. The people are very special too, warm, friendly and funny.

It’s hard to say what Ireland is like. It is a place where books and stories and cherished, which I think makes it very special. What I do know is that for me it’s home and although I love to travel, my heart belongs to Ireland.

Dun Laoghaire
Dun Laoghaire

What was your dream job as a child?

Writer. It just goes to show that sometimes dreams really do come true if you work hard enough and follow your heart.

What is being a writer like?

Do you write all day?

I’ll answer these two questions together. I have lots of different kinds of days – writing days, school visit days, festival planning days, reading and reviewing days, teaching days. Most writers don’t just write, especially children’s writers – they do lots of other things too.

Every week I spend 2 or 3 mornings writing – from 10am to 2pm – and 2 days visiting schools, teaching creative writing, reviewing and doing other bits of work relating to books. I try to write 2k words every time I sit down at my desk, that’s my aim. I often don’t hit this target, but sometimes I do.

At the moment I am Writer in Residence in Dún Laoghaire so from September I will be hosting book clubs for young readers and writing workshops, that will be fun.

What job would you do if you weren’t a writer?

A children’s bookseller. One day I hope to own my own children’s bookshop. Watch this space!

This post first appeared on the Girls Heart Books website.

 

One of my favourite parts of being a writer is talking to young readers about my work. Every week I visit 1 or 2 schools or libraries to talk to students. Here’s the diary of one of those trips.

7am Get up and walk dog – I always pack my bag the night before my event. I have all kinds of things in my green event bag – books, photos, toy whales.

My Green Event Bag
My Green Event Bag

IMG_7081[1]

8am Say goodbye to my dog, Lucky and get on the road in my Mini Cooper. Yes, I have the same car as Clover in the Ask Amy Green books!
IMG_7082[1]10.00am Arrive in Loughboy Library in Kilkenny and set up for my first event with the children from St John of God’s National School.

IMG_7085[1]Can you spot the whale and dolphin models? There’s a shark in there too – his tail goes from side to side, as he’s a fish. Sea mammals’ tails go up and down.

 

 IMG_7083[1]
10am to 11.30am Talk to the students about growing up (I was late to reading and I talk about this and how having heart and grit are more important than being top of the class), my favourite books, how I became a writer and sea mammals. They ask me some great questions about writing, publishing and whales and dolphins. We do a sea mammal quiz – teachers against the pupils – and the pupils win!

Sarah Webb Visit 2016 004 (2)

My latest book (out in March) called Aurora and the Popcorn Dolphin is all about a dolphin and I have a huge love for sea mammals, especially bottlenosed dolphins and humpback whales. I spent 2 years researching it and I’m still reading up about these amazing creatures. I don’t think I’ll ever know enough about them and new discoveries are made all the time.

My New Book, Out in March
My New Book, Out in March


Sarah Webb Visit 2016 006 (2)12.00 to 1.15 Here I am talking to the second school, Gael Scoil Osraí about my school days. I’m holding a copy book from when I was 5! Their teachers were pretty smart and when it came to the quiz they drew with the pupils (who are also very smart). This gang were particularly talented at singing humpback whale – it was a beautiful symphony of strange wailing and snorting noises!

1.30pm Hop in the car again after grabbing a sandwich and drive home again.

3.30 Arrive home and say hello to Lucky and the kids.

Writers, do YOU enjoy school visits?

Readers, has a writer visited YOUR school? I’d love to know all about it.

Yours in books,

Sarah XXX

This blog first appeared on Girls Heart Books website.

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The Songbird Cafe: Mollie Cinnamon is Not a Cupcake – Teachers’ Notes

Sarah + songbird2

1/ Book Covers and Titles

They say you should never judge a book by its cover. But what about its title? Do you like this book’s title: Mollie Cinnamon is Not a Cupcake? Can you say why/ why not?

Have a look around the nearest bookshelves. What do you think of the titles?

With a friend, think of amusing and/ or unusual titles for some of the real books or make some up eg How Cheese and Crackers Brought About My Downfall, or The Many Vicissitudes of Apollyon O’Shaughnessy.

You might choose your favourite and design a book jacket that would reflect your title.

2/ Wildlife and Swimming Safety

Click is the name of the dolphin living in Dolphin Bay and Mollie is excited to see him as she has never seen a real-life dolphin before. Many people love to swim with dolphins – but dolphins are wild animals and there are safety implications that must be evaluated and assessed before we jump into the water with a dolphin.

Discuss the risks/ possible dangers and the best way of dealing with a situation where your friend might want to get in and swim (with or without a dolphin) in an unsupervised area. What could you say or do to persuade your friend to make a good decision? What might you do if your friend made a decision that might lead them in to danger?

3/ Superstitions and Making Wishes

In the book, Granny Ellen is very superstitious, always saluting single magpies to ward off bad luck. She avoids walking under ladders and stepping on cracks in the pavement and picks up pins and “lucky pennies” all the time.

She also makes wishes on all kinds of things: shooting stars, rainbows, engagement rings. Many people make a wish as they stir a Christmas pudding, or when they eat the first new potato of the year though it is best not to expect too much from wishes as you might well be disappointed! Some religions frown on making wishes /practising superstitions – can you think why?

Make a list of other occasions that might cause Granny Ellen to make a wish/ and/or make a list of other superstitions commonly practised by people today.

Your wish: Take a day to think about something you really wish for. You might write it in your secret diary, or on a slip of paper that you could roll or fold and hide in a safe place. Or you might type and then print your wish in class, and when everyone has done this, you could create a collage of wishes, or hang them on a branch of a tree and create a wishing tree.

4/ Selective Mutism and Anxiety

Sunny is a very talented artist and draws little cartoons to explain herself when she doesn’t feel able to speak. Her anxiety and extreme shyness has probably helped to bring about her selective mutism. Can you do some research on this disorder and write a few lines of Sunny’s diary, explaining how she felt on first meeting Mollie in chapter 4. Or you could take a leaf out of Sunny’s book and describe the meeting in a cartoon strip.

5/ A New Place to Live

Have you ever been away from your family for a long period? Can you imagine what it would feel like to leave your home even for a month? Draw a large heart on an A4 page. Draw a line down the middle to split the heart in two. On one side, write a list of all the things you’d miss about your home if you had to leave. On the other, write a list of the ten things you’d most like to take with you. As you work, think about the choices that migrant or refugee children have to make when they are forced to leave their homes, perhaps for ever.

6/ Little Bird Island

Little Bird is a small island off the coast of Ireland and Mollie thinks there it’s boring, boring, boring, with nothing to do and nothing to see, except maybe some tractor-spotting. As you read, make a note of all the attractions on the island, and design a brochure to encourage tourists to visit. And/or choose some part of the Wild Atlantic Way and design a brochure that Fáilte Ireland might use to attract more visitors to our western coast.

7/ Your View on School Uniforms

The school uniform Nan finds for Mollie (chapter 6) is scratchy and beetroot-coloured  and Mollie isn’t used to wearing a full uniform. What is your opinion of school uniforms? You might do a survey on the opinion of your class/ school and/or have a class debate to tease out the advantages and disadvantages of being dressed exactly like all your fellow pupils. You could address your findings to the Students’ Union/Council and/or the Board of Management of your school.

8/ Red Moll and Granuaile

Red Moll is a fictional character, but is inspired by Gráinne Ní Mháille or Granuaile, the warrior chieftain who ruled the seas and large areas of land around Co Mayo in the sixteenth century. With a large army and a fleet of ships, this unconventional woman lived by trading and raiding, and her captains demanded payment for safe passage from all who sailed her waters around Clew Bay off the west coast of Ireland. In your group, read more about the ‘Pirate Queen’ and write five of the facts you find most interesting about her life and times. Share these with the class.

9/ Old Films

Nan and Mollie watch old films together. What movies would you watch with your grandparents/elderly relative? Draw a large tub/container with popped corn coming out the top. In the ‘tub’, describe your perfect afternoon at the movies, and in the ‘corn’ name the films you’d most love to watch with some older people.

10/ Making Friends

What has Mollie learned about making (and losing) friends in this book? Do you have any qualities that you feel are Friend-Makers or Friend-Breakers? Think carefully about the qualities you feel are non-negotiable/ absolutely necessary in a friend, and also about those things that are ‘friend-breakers’ eg bullying behaviour, disloyalty.

Wanted: a friend for me. You have just placed an ad in a local paper to find yourself a friend. What qualities would you want this friend to have? What type of person would suit you best? Write a brief description, stating types of things you like to do with your friends. Before you start, try to think how classmates see you, why your friends like you – make a list of words you think describe you and what your friends think of you.

Design Your Own Cupcake

If you were sponsoring the Songbird Café, what dish or cake would you like Alanna to dedicate to you? Help her out, design your own cupcake: What does it look like? What do you call it? Can you draw it and maybe post it to the school site /noticeboard? If each person in your class designed their own cupcake you could make a very colourful display for the entrance hall.

Write to Sarah

Sarah loves hearing from her readers. Your class can drop her a line – sarah@sarahwebb.ie

For more detailed teachers’ notes, with activities for every chapter see here.

Songbird map (1)

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Kjartan Poskitt in Action

Kjartan Poskitt, creator of the Murderous Maths books and the wonderful Agatha Parrot series will be in Dun Laoghaire next week for the Mountains to Sea Book Festival. Here are some facts you may not know about Kjartan:

1/ He’s from Yorkshire but he has an odd accent (or so he says).

2/ He wrote the theme tune for children’s art show, SmArt and children’s show, Brum.

3/ Most of his books start life written on the edge of a soggy newspaper.

4/ His favourite author is Philip Reeve.

5/ He can play cat and dog noises on a synthesiser.

All absolutely true!

Catch his wonderful Murderous Maths show on Friday 12th September in the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire during the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival. Age 4th to 6th class  e3 per child  (Limited tickets still available) Log onto www.mountainstosea.ie or ring: 01 2312929 to book

 

One of Kjartan's Books

One of Kjartan’s Books

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I’ve been visiting schools, libraries and festivals since 1996 when my first book was published. Over the years I’ve talked to thousands of children about books and writing. I’ve also given many writing workshops to children of all ages and this is what I’ve discovered:
1/ Children are not afraid of making mistakes – if their story isn’t going well they’ll just shrug and start another story, no big deal. They never worry about looking stupid on paper or getting it ‘wrong’.
2/ Children love creating big, funny, unusual characters – because their books are full of larger than life characters – think of Matilda, Mr Gum, Artemis Fowl, Tracy Beaker and Skulduggery Pleasant. They know when it comes to characters, BIG is good.
3/ Children understand that stories have to be exciting, fast, funny and full of emotion (and explosions in the case of boys – maybe slightly too many explosions!).
4/ Children don’t get too hung up about grammar or spelling, they just keep writing. They know they can correct that stuff later.
5/ Children write ‘cos they love to write, not because they want to get published/show off to the neighbours/make a million like that Harry Potter lady.
6/ Children believe that everyone has the right to write.
7/ Children don’t twist themselves up in knots about genre. If zombies appear half way through their romance, then cool, it’s a zombie romance!
8/ Children write for themselves, plain and simple, and because it’s fun.
(However they ARE very fond of ending their stories with ‘and I woke up and it was all a dream’!)

And finally they never, ever finish a book they are not enjoying. They would never say ‘I spent good money on that book so I’m going to finish it’ or ‘It’s for my book club, I have to get to the end’ – they think that’s crazy behaviour!
We have a lot to learn from these smart kids! (But I woudn’t recommend the ‘I woke up and it was all a dream’ ending!)

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX

 

‘What’s that?’ Charlie says.
We’re taking the short cut home from school, through the wood. It’s dark in here and the mouldy, damp leaves smell like rotten meat.
‘What’s what?’ I ask, stepping over a muddy patch and trying not to get my new white runners even filthier. Mum’s going to have enough of a fit already. It’s not my fault – you can’t play footie with the boys without getting your shoes a bit scuffed.
He lowers his voice. ‘The rustling. I think there’s someone following us.’
A stick breaks and something moves in the bushes behind us. He’s right. There’s someone, or something there. I take a deep breath and swing around. And then I get the shock of my life . . .

I wrote these opening lines for a Bord Gais Writing Competition for children of age 7+. I said yes to doing it because I knew it was something I could do quickly. I don’t know about you, but life’s moving pretty fast these days and I’m struggling a bit to keep up with all my various commitments. But I do everything I can to supporting anything to do with young readers or writers.

The young writers entering this particular competition will be both boys and girls, so I made the two main characters one of each. I gave it a forest setting to make it a little unsettling/different, and ended it abruptly to get them instantly involved in the story, instantly thinking ‘who’s in the bushes? A monster, an alien, a girl from school . . .’.

The young writers can add to the story and make of it what they will – a ghost story, a horror blood fest, a sci fi alien invasion, a unicorn fantasy tale – whatever genre or mash-up of genres they like. It took me roughly five minutes to think up and write, and a future ten minutes to edit and play around with it until I was happy. But here’s the thing – it took me fifteen minutes in total because my mind is trained to think of stories, characters and ‘what ifs’. My writing muscles are reasonably fit and healthy at the moment (wish I could say the same about the rest of me!).

As a writer you have a huge advantage if you are writing fit. When I visit schools I always tell the children – ‘If you want to win the X Factor, you have to practice. If you want to run or hurdle in the Olympics, you have to practice; if you want to be a published writer, you have to . . . practice.’ And it’s true. It amazes me how many people think they can just pick up a pen, scribble down a first draft, and boom, they will be the next Marian Keyes or Jon Banville. I don’t think the average person has any idea how the writing process really works. The hundreds of hours that go into thinking, making notes, writing, rewriting (x 8/10/12 times in the case of most of my books), editing, copy editing.

In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron says ‘Over the long term, writing is a lot like marathon running and, just as a runner suffers withdrawal when unable to run for a day or two, so, too, does a working writer miss his writing work. A certain amount of writing, like a certain amount of miles, keeps the artistic athlete happy and fit. Without this regular regime, tensions build up. Irritability sets in, life becomes somehow far less hospitable. A good writing day rights this again.’

Julia is bang on. Regular writers get very twitchy if they haven’t been at the page enough. The page is their lodestar.

I’ve been a published writer for over fifteen years now, full time for eight. And it has taken me a long time to find a writing routine that suits me, a balance between sitting long hours at my desk, and doing other things that I enjoy – like organising festivals, doing school visits and talks, touring – all which send me back to my desk happy and glad to be writing again. I’m a very sociable person, I like company, and I’m prone to feeling down and alone, so I have to be careful to pepper my writing week with solid, fun human interaction. But I miss my desk if I’m away from it for too long – it’s all about balance.

Each writer has to find their own writing routine. But routine is the key. No practice without routine. No publication without practice and damn hard work, and as Patrick Ness always says ‘writing with joy’ – turning up to the page every day (or as often as you can), and writing as if it’s your last day on earth. And that’s the ‘secret’ of getting published in a nutshell – routine, practice, hard work, joy . . .

So it’s back to the page for me to unleash some of that joy.

Until next week, yours in writing,

Sarah XXX

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This piece will run in Inis Children’s Book Magazine – but here’s a sneak peek. Hope it’s useful, SarahXXX

So You Want to Write for Children?
Some Advice for Unpublished Writers by Sarah Webb

Recently I spoke to thirty six-year-olds about my new Panda book, Emma the Penguin at the Dublin Book Festival. It was my first foray into the world of the jitter bugs that are 1st classers, and as I watched fellow Panda-person, Gillian Perdue round up her herd of cowboys and teach them how to line dance, I realised just how much I still have to learn about entertaining younger children. But I’d like to share what I have learned with you, in the hope it will prove useful to other writers, especially to those starting out.

Firstly the bad news, it is no longer enough to write an amazing book. There are over 8,000 children’s books published annually, many of which are also amazing. Some of these amazing books will have a lot of money behind them, some of them will be ‘written’ by pop stars or models. Some of them will be written by authors with a long standing track record.

But do not despair. There is a lot you can do to build your profile or ‘platform’ (as the market-eers like to call it) as a children’s writer before your book is published or even accepted for publication.

I’ll start with some general points. It goes without saying that you should put most of your time and energy into your writing. Write for the child inside you, write remembering just how it feels to be 4 or 7 or 9. Dig deep and use your memory. In a recent edition of Inis (Spring 2010) Sophie McKenzie says ‘I remember exactly what it was like being a teenager . . . (I) can vividly remember the years between 13 and 15.’

Yes, modern children now have You Tube, Facebook, mobiles – but they are just different ways of communicating, but emotions don’t change. After all, your parents may not have had televisions or telephones growing up!

If you want to write for children or teens, talk to children or teens, ask them what music they like, what actors, what books, what telly shows. The average 6th class girl’s favourite show is Desperate Housewives – who would have guessed?

Take constructive criticism on your work from people who read a lot of children’s books. Teens make good critics, but younger children generally want to please. You might find an experienced librarian or teacher who will read your work – take on board what they say.

Write from the heart and don’t be afraid of strong emotion. In Jacqueline Wilson’s books siblings jump out of high towers, killing themselves (My Sister Jodie), mums have nervous breakdowns and take emulsion paint baths (The Illustrated Mum). Oliver Jeffers’s latest picture book, The Heart and the Bottle, features a girl whose father has just died. She does not know how to cope with the grief so she takes her heart out and places it in a bottle for safe keeping. Strong stuff!

If you want to write commercial children’s fiction, you must have an eye to the market. Read children’s books – especially in the age group/area you are interested in writing for – library/bookshop recommendations, modern classics, bestsellers and award winners. There are many good guides out there to help you pick fantastic books to read, my favourites being the Ultimate Book Guide series published by A & C Black, a must for anyone serious about writing for children or teens.

This reading will also help you be aware of what modern children like and are interested in – and what works in a book. And also it’s fun; some of the best books out there are children’s books. It will also help you work out what age group you are writing for: early reader, confident reader, teen reader. This is vital. Children’s books are categorised in most shops and libraries by age. Young readers are aspirational – they like to read about children older than they are. If your character is 11, your readers will probably be 7/8 to 11.

Are there any gaps in the market? In a word, yes. At a recent Irish Pen event called ‘New Kids on the Block’ event, Svetlana Pironko, Director of the Author Rights Agency, Siobhan Parkinson, Children’s Editor at Little Island (New Island’s imprint for children and teens), and Paddy O’Doherty, Children’s Editor at Puffin Ireland, explained what they were looking for.

Paddy would like to see fiction for the 7 to 9 age group, but especially 8 to 12 fiction.
She says ‘read Puffin books’ and see where the gaps in the list are – and try to fill the gaps! She is very interested in good animal and child stories like Charlotte’s Webb, humour for girls – Louise Rennison type books (she kindly mentioned my own Amy Green books as the type of thing she is looking for), and Fantasy.
She said the books must be ‘well written, original ideas and voice, with a real sense of control’. She wants to feel that the author knows what she (or he) is doing, they have a sense of authority. And overall she is very keen on reading more manuscripts from new authors – all good news!

Siobhan Parkinson is looking for novels for age 9+ and teens. She is personally not a huge fan of fantasy, she prefers realistic novels and she, like Paddy is looking for ‘originality, a strong voice, someone who is in control of their writing’.

Svetlana, however is a big fantasy fan and finds this sells best to international publishers. She also likes teenage/crossover fiction and says universal stories are vital; she is interested in books that can travel.
In the UK, the publishers are veering towards ‘brand’ authors, authors they can work with over a number of books. And this goes for the picture books as well as novels. Oliver Jeffers for example has just signed a four book deal with Harper Collins for his new picture book series, The Hueys. Cathy Cassidy’s new book, Cherry Crush, will be the first book in a new series for girls.

Once you have written your book, what next? While awaiting publication (or your manuscript to find a home), there are many things you can do to start building your profile. Of course, you must start working on your next book, that goes without saying. But you can also begin creating an on-line presence. A website, a blog or both. A Facebook, My Space or Bebo page. Down the line, your readers should be able to find out more about you online and contact you – it’s part of the job of a modern children’s writer.

Blog about what interests you – whether it be books, writing, music, fashion, the universe – as long as it’s interesting! Decide your blogging market – are you targeting parents, teachers, librarians, or children themselves? For blogging inspiration, check out David Maybury’s blog, the children’s literature blog of record.

Reviewing children’s books for Inis magazine is a good way of keeping in touch with current books and also getting your name out there. And it goes without saying, do join CBI and attend some of the wonderful events and workshops. Attend author events and hear other children’s authors speak about their work. Immerse yourself in the children’s book world and you will have a better chance of spreading the word about your book to the right people when it is published.

Start reading your work to children right now. Think about what you have to offer as a performer. If you want to write for children, these days you have to connect with them LIVE. Find your own special way of doing events – standing in front of children and reading is not enough. The first and only commandment of doing events is: Thou Shalt Not Bore.

I use a lot of show and tell during my talks. I show the audience photos, toys, books and clothes from my childhood and talk about what I was like as a child and teen. Then I use these stories to explain how I became a writer.

Finally, be optimistic and have a strong constitution. You will probably be rejected many, many times before you make it. Even after fifteen years and twenty-seven books some of my ideas are still turned down. Write because you can’t not write. Multi-award winning writer Patrick Ness says write with joy. I would go further, I would say write as if it’s your last day on this earth. Give 100% every time you sit down at your desk. And hopefully your joy, passion and dogged hope will translate onto the page. Good luck and keep the writing faith!

For marketing and publicity tips for published writers, see another of my articles on the CBI website – CBI Info section – www.childrensbooksireland.ie

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