Posts Tagged Writing for Children

Sutton Coldfield BookFest

Sutton Coldfield BookFest took place yesterday, billed as, ‘a new festival for children who love stories’. I was involved as a volunteer and found it a great learning experience.

Winnie the Witch

Korky Paul’s Prize Winning Golden Raffle Tickets

My role was to check people’s tickets as they entered one of the library areas set aside for the performances of the authors and illustrators. This meant, once everyone was inside, I was able to stand at the back and watch fantastic sessions by author/illustrator Steve Smallman, Winnie the Witch illustrator Korky Paul and animal storyteller BB Taylor. They were all a great hit with the children and I took away the following points:

  • It’s harder to face an audience of children than an audience of adults. Even when bored, adults will sit still and quiet and look at you. Children have a habit of interrupting with questions, walking around, touching things and fidgeting.
  • In front of an audience of children a speaker has to exude energy, drama and enthusiasm. Speaking half-heartedly or without animation loses audience attention.
  • Visual aids and fancy dress are a must in front of youngsters. Between them the three performers had a viking helmet with chicken accessories, a wizard’s hat and a purple wig. BB Taylor brought along live animals: an armadillo, tortoise, millipede and a parrot.
  • Audience participation should be encouraged. Ask questions of the audience, get children up to the front and have prizes – children like to take things home!

So how does this help those of us who write for adults? It made me think about what I like to see in a speaker and it’s the unusual which ignites my immediate interest. And it’s the energy and enthusiasm of a performance that maintains that interest beyond the initial few minutes. So, thanks to three great children’s entertainers, those are the points I’ll be working on in my own author talk. Thanks guys and gal!

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One Writer’s Journey

Every writer’s journey is different. Author Steve Wand is my guest today and he shares his path from adversity to publication, including resources he found useful. In the last paragraph he offers sensible and motivating advice – take it and you’ll immediately appear more professional.
Over to Steve:

Robert Schuller once said ‘good things are often birthed from adversity’. Steve Wand
This was the case with me when recurrence of my old spectre epilepsy resulted in me losing my job and driving licence. The event placed me at one of life’s crossroads forcing me to re-evaluate my options. A love of writing led me to consider proofreading and, upon completion of nine-month’s professional training, I formed Steve Wand Editorial, allowing me to work from home, providing editorial services. I was also able to resurrect an unfinished fiction project and, in October last year, I set out to complete what I’d begun in 2004.

Along with self-doubt as a writer, one reason I’d consigned the completed first draft of my novel – a children’s fantasy adventure – to the drawer was my frustration with the story’s clumsy opening. I’d no idea how to remedy this and allowed myself to become disheartened. I now had opportunity to re-assess the work. My ‘eureka moment’ was when I chose to cull the first four chapters and start the tale at the point where things become interesting. But what of the missing backstory? How could I include this without relying on hefty paragraphs of narration? Using the ‘show rather than tell’ rule I selected elements crucial to the tale and worked them into dialogue. For example, two scrapped chapters illustrating the protagonist’s school bully problem were replaced by eight lines of verbal interaction.
Solving the tricky opening gave me confidence and motivated me to redraft The Door to Caellfyon with a view to self-publishing it on CreateSpace and Kindle. The Door to Caellfyon
At this point my editorial training became invaluable, I knew the role outstanding book covers play in achieving sales so I elected to proofread the final copy myself and use my limited funds to buy professional artwork. For this I had just the chap in mind.
I emailed the remit to local graphic designer Stu Smith, along with sample text from scenes I considered would make for good cover art. Given the tight budget I think Stu did a terrific job. I received his completed artwork on Christmas day, at which point I was free to upload my novel. This proved to be a greater challenge than I anticipated. Sally helped here with her book Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Rick Smith’s Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass was also helpful.
Having allowed self-doubt to deny me my ambition for so long I’d like to end here with a closing statement from my own recent blog-post Owning and Blowing Your Trumpet:
“ … as I begin 2016 with a sense of achievement and a feeling of excitement for the coming year I urge every aspiring writer who reads this to revisit your social media profiles and remove any trace of the word ‘wannabee’ or ‘aspiring’ and simply declare yourselves as writers. Make no mistake, this simple yet certain acknowledgement will serve as a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy and, in recognising yourselves as writers, writers you will be.”

Many thanks, Steve, for sharing your experience with us. It’s worth having a ‘look inside’ The Door to Caellfyon on Amazon and Steve’s website can be found at


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Children’s Writing Course & Horror Short Story Competition

Here are two things I’ve come across recently that might be of interest.

Firstly, Groupon are offering a massive discount on a course entitled ‘Learn to Write Children’s Stories’. It is advertised as being reduced from £349 to £14!

The course consists of 14 modules (those of you who are good at Maths will have worked out that this is the equivalent £1 per module) and guides “beginners through the process of writing great children’s stories, from plot to story structure to voice and style, this course aims to free imaginations and let the inner child create tales of adventure”.

However, this offer is only valid for five more days (which, by my calculations, is until 19th June 2014).

Full details are here.

Secondly, Joe Mynhardt of Crystal Lake Publishing is running a FREE to enter Horror Short Story Competition.

The organisation of this competition is different to most competitions. Initially Joe only wants to see 150 words. These words must be split (in any ratio) over the synopsis and opening of the story. For example the synopsis might be 30 words and the opening 120 words or vice versa.

Those that get through this first round of the competition will then be invited to submit their full story, which must be between 3000 and 7000 words and it must be horror, weird or suspenseful.

The prizes are as follows:

1st: Your story in Tales From the Lake Vol.2; $40; one contributor’s copy; bragging rights; a 30,000 word edit by Joe Mynhardt; all Crystal publish eBooks published at the time of announcing the winners.

2nd: Your story in Tales From the Lake Vol.2; one contributor’s copy; $30; a 20,000 word edit by Joe Mynhardt; any two Crystal publish eBooks published at the time of announcing the winners.

3rd: Your story in Tales From the Lake Vol.2; one contributor’s copy; $20; a 10,000 word edit by Joe Mynhardt; any one Crystal publish eBook published at the time of announcing the winners.

Full details of the competition are here and the first round closes on June 30th 2014 – so there’s still time to write those initial 150 words.

Regular readers of this blog may remember that Joe did an informative guest post for us on fiction writing. It’s still available here and might be worth a read if you’re thinking of entering the competition.

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