When Are You Going to Write a Proper Book? A Day for Children’s Writers and Illustrators
Sarah Webb, Writer in Residence, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown in association with Children’s Books Ireland and supported by Words Ireland
This is a short overview of the day with facts, figures and highlights. A podcast of the day will be available within the next few weeks – stay tuned to this blog, the Children’s Books Ireland website and social media, and my own social media for further details.
Children’s Books Ireland are looking at having similar days soon – more about that when they are announced. With over 70 on the waiting list for this event, there is certainly a demand for such days. It’s great to see such a keen interest in writing for children.
On Saturday 4th February the Lexicon Studio Theatre was packed with writers, illustrators, publishers, agents and children’s writers in various stages of their careers. There was a focus on telling our ‘truths’ and being honest and open about writing and publishing. Grainne Clear gave some really useful info about advances and royalties. She explained that the average writer’s advance in Ireland is e1,000. In the UK for smaller …
1/ If you want to write for children you must read children’s books – read picture books, early readers, middle grade novels (age 9+), teen books (age 11+) and YA novels (young adult). Ask a bookseller or librarian to recommend some award winning books in each age category.
Children’s books are not a genre, they are an age group. Within each age group there are books in every genre: fantasy, comedy, science fiction, history etc, yes, even picture books. You cannot write a book for age 4 to 14 – you need to narrow it down a little. Different age groups like different things from a book.
Once you have decided on an age group and/or settled on an age for your main character or characters, it’s time to start writing. Children like to read up an age – they want to read about characters that are older than they are.
2/ Write as often as you can and keep the story in your head. Think about your characters and your plot as you walk the dog, commute, wash up. Your subconscious will take over and unknot plot problems if you let it. Make time to write but also make …
Writer in Residence: Events, Book Clubs and Writing Clubs
All events and clubs are in the Lexicon Library, Dun Laoghaire
I’m delighted to be hosting a wide range of events, clubs and workshops for children, teens and adults during my residency. Here are the events from now until the end of the year.
I hope to see you at the dlr Lexicon very soon!
Yours in writing,
13th September (school day)
Roald Dahl Day for Schools – Celebrating 100 Years of a Master Storyteller
Events and workshops inspired by the work of Roald Dahl with Oisin McGann, Alan Nolan, Grainne Clear and Enda Reilly.
16th September (evening)
CULTURE NIGHT – SMASHING STORIES AND DASHING DOODLES
5pm to 7pm Story and art fun for all the family with Sarah Webb and Alan Nolan – no booking required.
Friday 16th September (school day)
Schools Events – Canada Day with Children’s Books Ireland
School events with award winning Canadian writers and illustrators, JonArno Lawson, Sydney Smith and Katherena Vernette. Find out how a book is made with our international guests.
Children’s Book Club
Max number: 15
1st Wed …
I’ve been writing full time for over twelve years now. In that time I’ve published number one bestselling novels for adults (Always the Bridesmaid) and children’s books that have been shortlisted for awards (Ask Amy Green series, Sally Go Round the Stars) but I’ve had book ideas turned down by my publishers and have started several novels that will never (and should never in most cases!) see the light of day.
When books are turned down –rejected – it can be a real blow to your confidence but it’s part of every writer’s job to dream up new books. Some will work and others won’t. Other times the idea is good but the market isn’t strong enough to make it worthwhile for the publisher to take it on.
Award winning author, Sheena Wilkinson says the ‘standard story is of rejections and then the magic yes. But another story is after that. When you keep writing better books, have a track record of awards and good reviews, but not great sales, and then get rejections. I think people are less willing to talk about that. And perhaps less prepared for it.’ I agree, it can be tough and all professional writers …
What Lies Beneath: A Readers’ Day
Saturday 7th November 10am to 4.00pm
Lexicon Studio Theatre, Dun Laoghaire
Cost: e15 (includes coffee and lunch)
On site bookshop with thanks to Dubray Books
If you’re passionate about books and love talking to other book lovers, this is the day for you. Find out how bestselling UK author, Freya North and Irish bestseller, Patricia Scanlan got their first breaks; hear how Kate Beaufoy and Kate Kerrigan researched their latest historic novels; listen to Sinead Moriarty and Claudia Carroll talk about their favourite books; discover the inspiration behind Sinead Crowley, Martina Devlin and Marita Conlon McKenna’s new novels; and hear Sinead Gleeson talk about the wealth of short story talent in Ireland, past and present, with Lia Mills and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne. A stimulating and thought provoking day for all readers and writers.
9.30am – 10.00am Registration
10.00am – 10.50am This is How it Begins . . .
Martina Devlin, Sinead Crowley and Marita Conlon McKenna will read from their new novels and talk to RTE’s Evelyn O’Rourke about the inspiration behind their stories and characters.
10.50am – 11.10am Coffee and bookshop signing
11.10pm – 12.00pm …
Well done to Shelly for putting it all together – Ireland’s 1st YA Day on Twitter – tune in and chat!
When: Oct 3rd
Where: #YAieDay will be an online festival taking place on the hashtag #YAieDay on Twitter.
The authors, bloggers, and publishing peeps will be chatting about topics and having the LOLs throughout the day. Anyone can join in and chat to their favourite author.
Also, lots of very cool publishers will be holding competitions where you could win books.
PLEASE JOIN IN & PLEASE DO SPREAD WORD
Remember to use the hashtag #YAieDay on Twitter
10:10 – 10:50am Lack of parents in YA – thoughts?
Sheena Wilkinson and Helen Falconer
11:10 – 11:50am Food in literature – how do you write it and is it important to have lashings of ginger beer?
Lucy Coats and Oisin McGann
11:50 – 12:10 Readers please tweet your thoughts to #YAieDay on your towering TBR pile.
12:10pm – 1:00pm – Please tell us about your next book – inspiration, drafting, editing, marketing.
Lauren James, Sarah Crossan, Sarah Webb and Brian Conaghan
1:10 – 1:50pm Bad language in books with young protagonists – thoughts?
Sally Nicholls, Kim Hood and R. F. Long
2:00 – …
Upon hearing that I’ve written a novel, some people want to know where I get my ideas from, as if there’s an idea-shop you can just pop in to on your way home from work. Lidl will probably start offering ‘Idee’s’ soon. They’re basically the same thing as ideas but far cheaper. Others ask about the storyline. ‘It’s a dystopian tale exploring the contemporary obsession with the female body. Think The Handmaid’s Tale for teenagers.’ I answer, watching as every man in a two mile radius backs away. No wonder I’m still single. And then, of course, there are the frustrated writers, lips tightening with barely concealed envy when they hear my good news. I know these people. I was one of them, poring over a newspaper article about some child of fifteen who has sold their first novel for half a million euro, trying to ignore the hatred threatening to suck me under, as greedy as a slurry pit. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing someone else realising your dreams.
So, here are my top tips on how to finally write that novel.
- Read voraciously. Stephen King said ‘If you don’t have time to read, you
I’m at the West Cork Literary Festival this week, teaching a workshop for adults – Writing for Children – and talking to children. At festivals I always make the time to listen to other writers read and also to attend a masterclass or talk about something that interests me.
On Monday I listened to Julia Churchill speak and I was very taken with her honest, direct and open manner. She talked about her role as an agent and what she’s looking for in a new writer. She spoke real sense and is a gifted communicator. I took lots of notes so that I could share her words of wisdom with you.
Julia is a children’s agent at AM Heath after cutting her literary teeth at Darley Anderson, where she was one of the first readers to discover Cathy Cassidy in the slush pile. She says Cathy’s manuscript made her cry and was one of the few manuscripts (along with Sarah Lean’s) that needed little or no work before being sent out to editors at publishing houses.
This is how Julia sees her job:
- to spot talent
- to develop talent
- to sell her clients’ books
- to create …
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