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1. AGENT INTERVIEW: Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency

Shining a light into the dark to highlight agent Gemma Cooper's move to The Bent Agency.


The wonderful Gemma Cooper has moved to The Bent Agency and she's asked me to make sure everyone has her new details.  Gemma is actively looking for new authors!



* Hi Gemma and welcome to tall tales & short stories. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a literary agent representing children’s authors and author/illustrators.

After spending time at literary agencies in New York and London, I joined Bright Literary Agency as an agent in 2011 to cover a maternity leave position managing Bright's amazing author/illustrators and develop the fiction portfolio. I moved to a permanent role at The Bent Agency in September 2012, to focus on fiction for 5+ to YA, here in the UK and also in the US. With this in mind, I’m very actively looking for new authors.

I am lucky to represent some very talented authors including Mo O’Hara, author of MY BIG FAT ZOMBIE GOLDFISH, which sold in a 3 book deal to Macmillan UK and Feiwel and Friends (UK March 2013/US Fall 2013).

When I’m not working (which is almost never), I renovate my old house, drive around Suffolk in my pink car, and write scary books for 10+


* What led you to focus on representing the children’s market?

I would say in the last ten years, 98% of all my reading has been children’s and YA. I love the talented writers in this market and the depth and quality of the story telling. When I decided to start a career in publishing, I only wanted to work in children’s because this is where my market knowledge is and where my passion is.

I was very lucky that I was living in New York when I discovered publishing as a potential career and I got a highly coveted place on an internship where I focused on YA and MG. From that point, I was hooked, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.


* How would you describe your typical working day?

Busy! I’m sure some people think literary agents just sit around reading all day, but really reading is such a small part of my job and certainly not something I do in the office.

I get a 7am train into London, so the first thing I do when I get a seat is to check my emails and respond to anything that has come in overnight. We deal with lots of Australian publishers and other people not in our time zone – my emails are never at zero. After tackling the inbox, I usually read submissions or requested material for the rest of the journey in.

When I get to the office, my day will depend on the emails that are coming in. I always start with a list of things to do, but this often gets pushed aside as urgent things come in! I meet with editors mid-morning or mid-afternoon, so I’ll be preparing texts and pitches. I also negotiate contracts, edit texts, look after our social media (blog, twitter, website), look at artwork, manage bespoke writing projects, call editors and meet new authors/author illustrators. All this takes me to around to 6pm/7pm and then I head home, tackling submissions on the train back.


* Trials and tribulations of being an agent: What do you love about your work? What don’t you love? What are the greatest challenges of being an agent?

I love the stories. The chance to read something before it’s published. I love being the person who gets to make that call, ‘you know your dream of getting published? Well that’s going to happen.’ I mean, who wouldn’t love getting to do that! I love being able to be a small part of someone’s success story.

I find the biggest challenge in my job is not having enough time. Time to get back to people as quickly as I would like. Trust me, writers who are waiting for submission responses, it does weigh on my mind. But I could work 24 hours a day and not get back to everyone as quickly as I would like.


* Do you want near perfect manuscripts or are you happy to work with the author editorially? Would you describe yourself as an ‘editorial agent’?

I’m definitely an editorial agent. I love working with an author editorially to polish and make the very best out of the opportunity to wow publishers.


* Would you take a risk on a manuscript that showed lots of promise but needed a lot of work?

Yes, I have done. As I’m new, this is going to be something I’ll do in these first few years and that’s totally fine with me. As long as the author isn’t afraid of hard work, I’m happy to put the time in. I might give them notes on the first three chapters, just to see they have the skill to revise. This has worked well so far and I’ve signed three authors like this.


* When looking for that new manuscript and debut author what are the main things that grab your attention? What makes a piece of work stand out from the slushpile?

Voice, voice voice and more voice! Nothing grabs me more in the slush than a great character with a strong voice.


* If you could make a wishlist of things you’d like to find in your submission inbox, what would it include? And do you have any favourite genres?

  • Boy voice YA – it’s my favorite thing in YA and so hard to do well.

  • Contemporary or issues books – I’m seeing a lot of urban fantasy, so I’d love a nice juicy contemporary.

  • A YA thriller or something fast paced with lots of action.

  • A YA or MG crime novel or some sort of heist.

  • A younger tween friendship based novel – think Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.

  • I would like to see some of the paranormal elements that work so well in YA filtered down into MG.

  • An amazing literary novel with great voice and perhaps a slight magical or mystical element.

  • I love Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, so I’d love to see some funny space stories for a younger audience.

  • 5-8 chapter books with series potential.

  • Author/illustrators writing MG or chapter books would get my immediate attention!

I don’t really have a favourite genre, just give me good characters in a strong story.


* What kind of working relationship do you aim to build between you and your clients? Do you see yourself as a career builder or prefer a more manuscript by manuscript approach?

I want to be a career builder. I’m building my own career at the moment, so I want to take my authors all the way with me!


* Does an aspiring author need to prove they have commitment to pursuing a writing career by providing a writing CV?

No. Obviously let me know if you have been published before, but if not, don’t worry! I just want to read your submission.


* Do you expect your writers to develop a market brand or are you keen for them to pursue a diversity of stories?

I think it’s good to build a fan base before you diversify, but if you have a strong voice in a variety of genre’s or age ranges, then I’d be happy to support diversifying.


* Do you have any submission preferences or things that annoy you? 
Please email me cooperqueries@thebentagency.com with a query/submission letter and the first 10 pages of your manuscript pasted onto the bottom of your email.

I DO NOT accept postal submissions.

I like a straightforward and simple query letter, as I tend to read the genre/age range and then skip straight to the pages - I'm on the hunt for voice! So don't get hung up on submission/query format and keep it simple.

For example, something like:

Subject: Query - MG Sci-Fi AMAZING NOVEL IN SPACE by Gemma Cooper

Dear Gemma I am seeking representation for my MG Sci-Fi AMAZING NOVEL IN SPACE, complete at 45,000 words.

Then a few paragraphs telling me what the book is about. Google query letters and you will see lots of examples, or look at fantastic resources like Query Shark.

Then one paragraph with any important details about yourself that are relevant to writing or this particular novel. For example, I am a member of SCBWI...I am previously published....I work at the International Space Station...etc.

Then a sign off.

Simple!

I read and respond to all my submissions personally. It’s just for ease that it goes into a different inbox, so everything doesn’t get mixed up.

Please allow 4 weeks before chasing.

I do often update twitter with my query stats, so you can see where I’m up to in answering them. Gemma on twitter


* When reading submissions what would you say are the most common mistakes made by aspiring writers?

All the back-story up front and in the first pages.
Telling the story and not showing it.
Boring openings, like waking up and looking in a mirror.
Laundry lists of character traits.
Starting with a dream.


* Would you ever consider a proposal for a series from a new author, or do you prefer stand alone books? If an author is writing a trilogy, should they mention it in their submission?

The first book has to be the best one you can make it. I love series potential as do publishers, but make sure all the main loose ends are tied up in this first book. If you are writing a trilogy, I would say something in your cover letter like, ‘the book has series potential’ – but don’t tell me all about books two and three. Let me enjoy one first.


* What is one thing you wish every beginner writer knew?

Not to rush. I can only read someone once for the first time - if that makes sense. If you send me something and I reject it, then a month later you revise and send it back, I’m always going to remember that first time.

Use a critique group/partner and wait until you are 100% happy with your book before sending it out.


* Any other words of wisdom and advice to aspiring writers?

Join SCBWI.  Network and get involved.
Get a critique partner/group.
Read, read, read!


* Re: The submission letter. If you've been published in a different area should it be mentioned? Should you include writing qualifications?

Yes, always mention previous publications and writing qualifications. But don’t worry if you have none.


* Should you include if you’ve been shortlisted in major competitions? Some say it shows the work is better than average, others that it wasn't good enough to win so it reflects badly.

If you have been shortlisted in a recent competition, I would mention it. Also, you could mention if you have revised since the competition or enlisted a critique partner/group to improve the book.


* Re: Editorial advice and responses to suggestions and criticisms. Are you looking for authors who might disagree (in a rational and reasonable way) and defend their vision, or, would you prefer authors to trust your suggestions completely?

I want to work with an author to make their book more saleable, while also keeping their vision – the words are theirs but they have come to me to help sell the book.

I expect authors to have some disagreements to comments, but I like them to think about why I have made them. I never want to be all like, ‘I’m right! You have to change this,’ but I also want an author who will sit on feedback for a few days before sending defensive emails.

I always meet my authors in person or on skype. That way I can tell what sort of person they are off the bat and if we would get on. You get a feeling about these things.


* If an author mentions their website or blog, do you check them out? And if so, what would you like to see?

I don’t usually look at blogs unless I’m considering signing someone – I just don’t have the time! But if I want to represent someone, I get a bit Google stalkerish. What I expect to see on a website or blog is appropriate content and nothing that would cause concern to a publisher if they Googled the author name (and they do).

Also, I like positivity and am not really a fan of people who chart all their rejections and struggles in the slush pile. Save that for when you have been published.


* Is it ever worth mentioning you have children in your target readership age (shows you are in touch with that age group) or is that a no-no on the lines of 'I read it to my family and they loved it'?

Your children will love your work because you wrote it and have shared it with them - not because it’s good. If you wrote this on your cover letter, I would skim over it.


* Do you read submissions personally or are they given to readers? If so, at what stage would they go to you?

I read all my submissions personally and I can’t see this changing anytime in the future - I’d worry too much about something amazing being missed! Also, after spending over year interning and buried in slush daily, I really enjoy reading subs......you never know what you’re going to find.


* If an author writes for several different age groups is it okay to make several, simultaneous submissions?

I’m not a fan of simultaneous submissions. Bring me your very best project or the one that most fits my wish list.







3 Comments on AGENT INTERVIEW: Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency, last added: 11/4/2012
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2.

I REGRET TO INFORM MY READERS THAT DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES TALL TALES & SHORT STORIES WILL BE DARK FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.

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3. Celebrate The Hex Factor and win a trip to see Wicked! The Musical

I'm back! 
And what better way to start a new blogging season than to share details about a
Wicked competition! 

To celebrate the release of The Hex Factor by Harriet Goodwin,
one very lucky reader has the chance to win a magical trip to see Wicked! The Musical in London’s West End, followed by a meal at Pizza Express!


Xanthe Fox can’t wait to turn thirteen,
but as the big day arrives, life seems to be getting more and more complicated. 
Her long-time enemy, Kelly, is making trouble for her at school, her teachers are threatening to expel her, even her best friend is acting strangely. And on top of it all, Xanthe can’t banish the mysterious glowing Xs that keep appearing in front of her eyes.
In need of some friendly advice, Xanthe asks Grandma Alice for help. However, the old lady has a secret that will change her granddaughter’s world forever.
Because Xanthe isn’t a normal teenager; she’s a witch. And evil is just around the corner... 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I'm guessing you're eager to know how you can win this fabulous prize and help celebrate the release of The Hex Factor by award winning author Harriet Goodwin?
You are?
Ok - it's easy.  Here's what to do!

To be in with a chance of winning, put yourself in Xanthe’s shoes and answer the following question in no more than 100 words…

If you were Xanthe at the end of the book, what would be your next entry in your secret diary? 


To enter the competition you'll need to visit Harriet Goodwin's website and leave your answer in the form you'll find by following the link.

Deadline for entries is Friday 30th November 2012.

Remember to include your name and phone number. The winner must be available to travel to London to watch the 2.30pm performance of Wicked! on Saturday 29th December 2012.

Winners under the age of 16 should be accompanied to the performance by a parent or guardian.

Reasonable train travel expenses within the UK to and from Central London will be reimbursed by the publisher. However, they are unable to provide accommodation for the winner and their guest.



Harriet Goodwin visited tall tales & short stories as a debut author with her first book The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43

Harriet also offered advice on self-editing 


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4. A Novel's Progress: My Guest Blog Post from the Writers' Centre Norwich website

A Novel's Progress: My Guest Blog Post about
being chosen as a TLC Free Reads Winner


Tracy Ann Baines blogs about writers' fears, novel-writing & the benefits of a TLC Free Read:

Every writer’s different.  We all have our own way of working.  There’s no right or wrong way - no right place to start.  But my novel started with NaNoWriMo.  I sat at my computer, stared at the blank virtual paper, and realised - I had no idea what to write.  But write I did.  I had to.  I’d taken up the challenge - write at least 50,000 words in a month. 

A character came to me - he had a name, a little brother, but he didn’t have a story.  I made it up as I went along.  No plan, no synopsis, nothing.  I let the story lead me into all kinds of places. Things I’d read or seen; newspaper reports, advertisements, a TV documentary all wove themselves into the narrative.  And then I stopped.  Something wasn’t right.  I started all over again. 

The story stayed the same but the POV changed.  The story needed to be told from different perspectives, each character as important as the next.  Five different characters = five different voices; two teenage boys, a teenage girl, a ten-year-old boy and a grandfather.  Each voice needed to be distinctive and believable.  Occasionally I’d write something which moved me to tears and I’d wonder- Is this real or am I deluding myself?  Would others care about the characters I’d grown to love.  And so it began….

The voice of self-doubt, growing ever louder…  It’s too complicated.  I don’t know what I’m doing.  It’s rubbish.  I can’t write.  The voices don’t work.  The story doesn’t work.  Just give up now!
The self-doubt remained but I kept on going until finally I’d typed ‘The End.’ I’d done it.  I’d finished my novel in a month.  Hurrah!  But now what?

I left it to gather dust.  But then I heard about Writers’ Centre Norwich offering six writers the chance of a free manuscript report from TLC.  This was an opportunity I’d be foolish to miss.  Anyway, I knew I wouldn’t win.  So with the deadline looming, and with no time to talk myself out of it, I posted my submission.

I won!  I was awarded a TLC FreeRead.  Thrilled to be chosen, I edited my manuscript and sent it away.  Nothing to lose.  Everything to gain. 

I opened the report with nervous anticipation…

‘an awful lot of potential…  I enjoyed reading it.’ 

‘Your main characters are believable and likeable…  your writing style is, for the most part, eloquent and commanding.’

‘Overall I think you demonstrate an excellent command of dialogue.’

‘I found your plot entertaining and well conceived.’

‘Overall your manuscript shows a keen attention to narrative, both in terms of style and substance…  it’s an engaging and, in parts, genuinely moving story.’


Fantastic!  Vindication that perhaps my writing wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.  That’s not to say there wasn’t work to be done.  The reader thought I could do a little more to make the voices as distinctive as possible.  I could perhaps streamline the plot and make it less hurried in the final third.  

‘teenage first person narratives are hard to write at the best of times… multiple narrators is even more of a complicated task…’    

To have your self-doubts dismissed or confirmed by a professional provides an important stepping stone.  When we sit at our computers, staring at the words we’ve written, sometimes it’s hard to see things clearly.  Sometimes, the only way to find the courage to move forward is to have a professional read your work and suggest ways to proceed.

So be brave.  Grasp the opportunity.  Because who knows where a TLC Free Read may lead…







~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 Comments on A Novel's Progress: My Guest Blog Post from the Writers' Centre Norwich website, last added: 9/8/2012
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5. Going dark for Summer...

Barbados sunshine and beaches


Sadly I won't be heading off to Barbados but I am going to be taking a well-earned break. Life's been rather a nightmare for the past few months with a variety of family medical emergencies and health issues, and it's been very hard to keep blogging and to juggle everything life has thrown at me.
So the blog will be having a summer break as will I.  So hopefully I'll see you on the other side and I wish you all a lovely summer holiday whatever you may be doing.
Tracy x

Weather Clipart Images

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6. AND THE WINNER IS...



ONE NAME HAS BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN 2 TICKETS TO  
WRITING BRITAIN: WASTELANDS TO WONDERLANDS
AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY






And the winner is -
VANESSA HARBOUR
(via comments)


Congratulations to Vanessa! As always I wish I could have given prizes to everyone who entered.

Vanessa - Please could you contact the blog email via the Contact tall tales & short stories link at the top of the blog so I can arrange for the tickets to be sent to you.
Thanks
Tracy





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7. Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands at The British Library and a ticket giveaway!

Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands
11 May – 25 September 2012



The British Library explores literature inspired by spaces and places around the British Isles, from Penny Lane to Platform 9 ¾

Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands explores treasures from the last 1000 years of English literature that have been shaped by the country’s unique spaces and places. From idyllic rural landscapes to gritty cities, the exhibition will showcase a literary map of the British Isles and highlight how writers, from William Shakespeare and Walter Scott to John Lennon and J K Rowling, have recorded the changing spaces of the British Isles in some of their greatest literary works, and in turn inspired their readers to explore the country in new ways.

Curated by the British Library’s English and Drama team, the exhibition will feature over 150 literary works, including first-time loans from overseas and personal loans from modern authors, such as Posy Simmonds, Jonathan Coe, Hanif Kureishi, and J K Rowling.

Sound recordings, letters, photographs, maps, song lyrics and drawings as well as manuscripts and printed editions will feature alongside newly commissioned video interviews on location with literary figures including Simon Armitage, Andrea Levy and Ian McEwan.

Highlights of the exhibition include:




JK Rowling, Chapter six, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ © J K Rowling. Kindly lent by the author.





J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – the original manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, lent by the author, describes Harry Potter’s first encounter with platform 9 ¾ in London’s King’s Cross station.

John Lennon’s original draft for ‘In My Life’ – John Lennon’s original handwritten lyrics to ‘In My Life’ describe the bus journey from Lennon’s childhood home to Liverpool’s town centre, recording many landmarks passed en route. The final version of the song, which appeared on The Beatles album Rubber Soul (1965), became a general meditation on the past.

Virginia Woolf, first edition of To the Lighthouse (1927) and childhood newspaper, ‘Hyde Park Gate News’ – Woolf’s modernist novel tells the story of the Ramsay family and their visits to a remote island in the Hebrides. While the novel describes a visit to the Hebrides, an edition of ‘Hyde Park Gate News’, the childhood newspaper produced by Woolf and her siblings, shows the inspiration was in fact a family trip to the Godrevy lighthouse of St Ives.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 14th century – the earliest su

3 Comments on Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands at The British Library and a ticket giveaway!, last added: 8/3/2012
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8. AND THE WINNERS ARE...



TWO NAMES HAVE BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN A COPY OF
THE SECRET HEN HOUSE THEATRE BY HELEN PETERS!


And the winners are -
Annie
and 
Margaret
 
(via comments)


Congratulations to both the winners!
Look out for an email in your inbox!  
Thanks
Tracy

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9. LET'S CELEBRATE! - with debut author Helen Peters and a book giveaway!



Blog Celebrations - Week 7

A debut author interview 
with Helen Peters
and 2 copies of 
The Secret Hen House Theatre
to giveaway!



THE SCRET HEN HOUSE THEATRE


Since the death of her mother, Hannah's family life has been a bit chaotic. Her father works all day on their dilapidated farm, and the four children are pretty much left to themselves. 
One day, Hannah finds a ramshackle old hen house in a forgotten corner of the farm and decides to turn it into a secret theatre. 
But when the farm is threatened with demolition, Hannah hatches a bold plan to save it. 
But who can she trust? And what will happen when her dad finds out?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



* Hi Helen and welcome to tall tales & short stories.
Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Tracy. I’m delighted to be here – thank you for having me!

I spent my childhood on a traditional tenant farm in East Sussex, the eldest of four children, like Hannah in the story.

9 Comments on LET'S CELEBRATE! - with debut author Helen Peters and a book giveaway!, last added: 7/19/2012
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10. AND THE WINNERS ARE...



TWO NAMES HAVE BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN A COPY OF
THE HALF LIFE OF RYAN DAVIS BY MELINDA SZYMANIK!

And the winners are -
Jay Uppal (Print Copy)
and 

Enna P (ebook copy)
(via comments)


 
ONE NAME HAS BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN A COPY OF
MADE WITH LOVE BY MELINDA SZYMANIK!


 And the winner is -
Sandra (Print Copy)
(via comments)

Congratulations to you all!
Look out for an email in your inbox!  
Sandra, I'll try and contact you on twitter.
Thanks
Tracy



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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11. LET'S CELEBRATE! - with author Melinda Szymanik and 2 very different books to giveaway!

 


Blog Celebrations - Week 6


A two-tone celebration 
with 2 very different books
by Melinda Szymanik 
to giveaway!




THE HALF LIFE OF RYAN DAVIS

‘Hitchcock with hormones’ - a contemporary psychological mystery/thriller for young teens

Playing second fiddle to a 'missing, presumed dead' sister is soul-sucking for fifteen year old Ryan. As he tries to move on with his life he begins to appreciate just how difficult growing up can be. And now there's a stranger watching him.
Will his family ever be whole again? Or did Mallory light the fuse that will blow it apart forever...

You can read a tall tales & short stories review of The Half Life of Ryan Davis here






 MADE WITH LOVE

A charming bittersweet tale of how a mother's love creates a little magic bringing a gingerbread woman and snowman to life.








  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Melinda Szymanik talks about her two latest titles
and why she just can’t turn a good story away

At a recent event where I was speaking I was introduced as a diverse writer. A writer for children, I’ve had novels for older children and teens published, but also short stories and picture books aimed at a variety of ages. Recently a writer friend said of my two latest titles - “I'm quite amazed that you can write two books as different as 'Made with Love' and 'The Half Life of Ryan Davis

7 Comments on LET'S CELEBRATE! - with author Melinda Szymanik and 2 very different books to giveaway!, last added: 7/6/2012
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12. Winner of Explore Learning's 2012 National Young Writers’ Award Announced

Back in April I helped spread the word about Explore Learning's National Young Writers' Award 2012.


I've been sent details of the winner, so huge 
CONGRATULATIONS to seven year old Jamie Reger
the winner of this year’s National Young Writers’ Award.


Now in its fourth year, the annual competition run by tuition provider, Explore Learning, attracted over 13,000 entrants from budding young writers from across the UK. Jamie Reger was awarded a trip to Disney Land Paris with his family, as well as £500 worth of books for his school, Broomfield House in Kew.

The task was to write a 500-word story with the theme ‘Old and New’ and Jamie Reger’s story stood out amongst the thousands of other entries made due to its creative approach, ingenuity and wonderful use of descriptive language.

Jamie’s story was about how a cuddly bear links a boy to his distant past. The story can be read in full here

The winning entry was selected by bestselling children’s author Andrew Cope, famous for the popular ‘Spy Dog’ series. Andy commented: “The entrants this year completely blew me away. These are some of the best young writers in the country and I’ve loved the opportunity to get involved in a competition where we encourage children to put pen to paper, get inspired and create something that’s never been created before. I chose Jamie’s story because it was simple, thought-provoking and leaves me wanting more. Where will the history book and teddy take him next? I can feel a series coming on…

The competition aims to encourage children to get their creative juices flowing and give writing a try and to support this, tutors from Explore Learning ran free workshops with hundreds of schools across the UK.

Jamie said: "I was very surprised to find out I'd won. I have wanted to be an author since I started learning to write, so to win Explore Learning's National Young Writer of the Year from over 13,000 children was a dream come true. I was thrilled to be chosen by an amazing author like Andrew Cope. He said my story made him cry. I'm so excited about taking my family to Disneyland Paris to celebrate!"

Alexis Humphrey from Explore Learning was thrilled with the number of entries received this year. She said: “Writing is a fantastic pastime for children. As well as helping with their grammar and spelling, it takes them away to another place where anything goes; it lets their imagination run free and we were amazed by the inventiveness of some of the stories we received. We’re proud to put on a competition that attracted so many entrants and want to congratulate all our participants, and of course Jamie, who fought off tough competition to have his story named the best in the country.

Explore Learning specialise in providing maths and English tuition to children aged 5-14 of all abilities. The programme works in line wi

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13. AND THE WINNER IS...

WOW! What an amazing response to this competition. Yet again I wish everyone who entered could have won but sadly there could be only one winner.  So drum roll, please...



ONE NAME HAS BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN FEEDBACK ON THE FIRST TWO PAGES OF THEIR MS BY AGENT MOLLY KER HAWN OF THE BENT AGENCY!



And the winner is -

SALLY

with her YA Fantasy with a Fairy Tale Theme,
 'Through Mortal Eyes.'


Congratulations Sally!

And a huge thank you to Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency for agreeing to join in with our blog celebrations in such a fantastic way!

Thanks to everyone who entered and I wish you all success on your writing journeys.
Tracy

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14. LET'S CELEBRATE! - with author Savita Kalhan and a 2 book giveaway!



Blog Celebrations - Week 5


A celebration with a darker tone
&
 2 copies of The Long Weekend
 by Savita Kalhan
to giveaway!



Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with a man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out.
They were trapped, then separated.
Now they are alone.
Will either of them get out alive?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Long Weekend ~ a tall tales & short stories review

It's not often that you pick up a book and are genuinely at a loss to know how it will end yet Savita Kalhan achieves just that and it's what helps makes The Long Weekend such a page-turning read. This reader read it in one sitting, so desperate was I to know how it would end.
This is a dark book and as the interview explains it tackles a difficult and gritty subject but it does so with chilling subtlety and understated power. At its heart it's a psychological thriller, the story unfolding with increasingly sinister twists and turns that really draw the reader in. Told in third-person from Sam's perspective, the prose is economical but highly effective, emphasising the skill of the author's storytelling skills.
This is a gripping 'must read' for readers who want something intriguing, different, and dark.
TB





You can read the interview with author Savita Kalhan
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15. AND THE WINNER IS...



ONE NAME HAS BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN THE FIRST TWO BOOKS
FROM THE RESCUE PRINCESSES SERIES 
BY PAULA HARRISON!

 


















And the winner is -
JEAN HEALEY
(via comments)


Congratulations to Jean! As always I wish I could have given copies to everyone who entered via the blog and twitter.

Jean - Please could you contact the blog email via the Contact tall tales & short stories link at the top of the blog so I can arrange for the books to be sent to you.
Thanks
Tracy


 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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16. LET'S CELEBRATE! - with agent Molly Ker Hawn from The Bent Agency!

 
Something for all aspiring
YA authors out there!
& a slight amendment, 
Molly is happy to look at Middle-grade too.





The wonderful Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency has very kindly offered to crit the first two pages of your manuscript.

You can read a tall tales & short stories interview with Molly here




  
We're often told how important the first page is; 
  • Are you hooking the reader from the first line? 
  • Does the first page deliver enough to make the agent or publisher want to read on? 
  • Does your prose engage and grab the reader from the outset? 
  • Does it work?
  • Is your opening cliched?

So many things to think about on just the first page! But if you know that page works chances are the agent or publisher will want to read the rest.

It's easy to enter!
Here's what to do!

Here's the age group Molly would like to see:

MG

YA


  • Molly will read and give feedback on the first two pages of your ms. (Who knows where it might lead!)
  •  It can be any genre but it must be in the age groups stated.
  • All you nee

    67 Comments on LET'S CELEBRATE! - with agent Molly Ker Hawn from The Bent Agency!, last added: 6/15/2012
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17. AND THE WINNER IS...



ONE WINNER HAS BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN A COPY OF
 HIDDEN AND ILLEGAL 
BY MIRIAM HALAHMY!

 


















And the winner is -

Ruth Griffiths (via comments)


Congratulations to Ruth! As always I wish I could have given copies to everyone who entered via the blog and twitter.

Ruth - Please could you contact the blog email via the Contact tall tales & short stories link at the top of the blog so I can arrange for the books to be sent to you.
Thanks
Tracy


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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18. LET'S CELEBRATE! - with author Paula Harrison and a 2 book giveaway!



Blog Celebrations - Week 3


The Jubilee celebrations are well under way so what better way to join in than with a
2 book giveaway!




The Rescue Princesses 
by Paula Harrison!







The Rescue Princesses are no ordinary Princesses.
If there’s an animal in danger they’ll be there, ready to stage a daring rescue! With their ninja skills and magic jewels, they’re Princesses on a mission and nothing, except the occasional dress-fitting or curtseying lesson, will get in their way…
Hang on to your tiaras and get ready for some right royal adventures!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Writing for Young Readers by Paula Harrison

Paula Harrison

As my own children began to leave picture books behind, I found myself more and more drawn to writing for young readers. There’s no room to pause in these stories, you’ve got to grab the reader straightaway! I also love the sense of fun and adventure in the best young reader stories.

The Rescue Princesses series is broadly for ages six to nine. These years are a real time of transition when

4 Comments on LET'S CELEBRATE! - with author Paula Harrison and a 2 book giveaway!, last added: 6/7/2012
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19. A Healthy Obsession With Attics by Ruth Eastham and 2 copies of The Messenger Bird to giveaway!


tall tales & short stories is thrilled to welcome Ruth Eastham back to the blog to celebrate publication of her new book, The Messenger Bird, and to tell us all about her love of attics.

There are also two copies of The Messenger Bird up for grabs!
The competition's international and details follow at the end of Ruth's post.




THE MESSENGER BIRD


Nathan's dad has been arrested for breaking the Official Secrets Act. Now he faces a life in prison. But as British Intelligence Officers drag him away, he tells Nathan to follow a trail - one that could prove his innocence. 
The first clue is a letter, written during the Second World War. 
Nathan must uncover its meaning or risk losing his dad forever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Healthy Obsession With Attics

Lucy found the wardrobe in one? A Little Princess had to sleep in one; Alex discovers a secret diary in one, and Nathan finds a vital clue in one. Just what is it about writers and attics?

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (2005, Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media)

I guess I must be obsessed. With attics, that is. Or lofts, as they might be known where you come from. And I’m not talking about these new fangled conversions, either.


In both my books, attics are important settings. In The Memory Cage, the attic is a forbidden place that holds the key to Grandad’s past.

In The Messenger Bird, it’s a dingy room cluttered with World War II memorabilia.

So just what does an attic do that other rooms can’t? A dining room,

18 Comments on A Healthy Obsession With Attics by Ruth Eastham and 2 copies of The Messenger Bird to giveaway!, last added: 5/16/2012
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20. AND THE WINNERS ARE...



TWO NAMES HAVE BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF SLATED!



And the two winners are -

Jem Juliette Jewels Jade 


Disincentive

Congratulations to the two winners! I wish I could have given a copy to everyone who entered, it proved to be a very popular giveaway with over 100 people entering via the blog and twitter.
Tracy

SLATED author, Teri Terry, wanted to say a few words -
I am thrilled to see how many enthusiastic entries there were to win a copy of Slated! Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to see what it is about, and congratulations to the winners. Hope you enjoy! Stop by on Twitter to tell me what you think: @TeriTerryWrites



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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21. TALL TALES & SHORT STORIES IS CELEBRATING AND YOU'RE ALL INVITED!

SmileyHatBounces Pictures, Images and PhotosSmileyHatBounces Pictures, Images and Photos


tall tales & short stories wants to celebrate YOU!
- all the visitors 
who have stopped by the blog! 



So we're going to host some fantastic giveaways & competitions!

We feel rather proud of how we've managed to spread the word about a diverse range of children's and YA books across the globe. We've featured authors from different countries and so many different genres of books we couldn't possibly name them all. We've featured debut authors, award winning authors, agents and literary consultants, we've had guest posts and interviews, told you about competitions and writing opportunities, and we've made the top ten of UK children's literature blogs twice!

So it's time to party!


The festivities will start on Monday 21st May and last for a few weeks
 with a new post every week that details the latest prize on offer.

We have something for writers and readers;

Two agents are offering crits on opening pages!
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22. LET'S CELEBRATE! - with GEMMA COOPER from The Bright Literary Agency

 
Let's start the blog celebrations with something for all you children's writers out there!





The wonderful Gemma Cooper from the Bright Literary Agency has very kindly offered to crit the first two pages of your manuscript.

You can read a tall tales & short stories interview with Gemma here




  
We're often told how important the first page is; 
  • Are you hooking the reader from the first line? 
  • Does the first page deliver enough to make the agent or publisher want to read on? 
  • Does your prose engage and grab the reader from the outset? 
  • Does it work?
  • Is your opening cliched?

So many things to think about on just the first page! But if you know that page works chances are the agent or publisher will want to read the rest.

It's easy to enter!
Here's what to do!

Here are the age groups Gemma would like to see:

7+

Middle-Grade

(If you write YA don't worry we have another agent lined up for you very soon.)

  • Gemma will read and give feedback on the first two pages of your ms. (Who knows where it might lead!)
  •  It can be any genre but it must be in the age groups stated.
  • All you need to do is leave a comment on the blog: Leave your name, the title of your ms, and the intended age group. If you want to leave a contact email that's great, if not, watch this spa

    18 Comments on LET'S CELEBRATE! - with GEMMA COOPER from The Bright Literary Agency, last added: 5/24/2012
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23. AND THE WINNERS ARE...



TWO NAMES HAVE BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN A COPY OF
 THE MESSENGER BIRD!



And the two winners are -

We Sat Down (via twitter)


Michelle (via comments)

Congratulations to the two winners! I wish I could have given a copy to everyone who entered via the blog and twitter.
Please could the two winners contact the blog email via the Contact tall tales & short stories link at the top of the blog.
Thanks
Tracy




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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24. LET'S CELEBRATE! - with author Miriam Halahmy and a 2 book giveaway!

 

Blog Celebrations - Week 2

 2 books to giveaway!

Hidden & Illegal 
by Miriam Halahmy




'There's so much hidden in this little hut,and whatever I've dived into here is only going to get more complicated.'

Alix is just an ordinary fourteen year old, living at the bottom of quiet Hayling Island.But one cold, misty Saturday on the beach she and her friend Samir suddenly find themselves saving a drowning immigrant.
Faced with the most difficult decision of their lives, what should Alix and Samir do?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



When fourteen year old Lindy is offered a job by her cousin Colin she's been thrown a lifeline, an escape from her desperate family life.
But Colin's a drug dealer and Lindy soon realizes she's out of her depth. Terrified she'll go to prison, and seeing no way out, she becomes locked in a downward spiral.

But then help comes from a surprising ally in fellow misfit, Karl. With the help of her jailbird brother, Lindy and Karl embark upon a desperate plan to ensure her freedom.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

‘Like reading a story about your own life.’

This was the comment from a 10 year old boy after reading Illegal. He loved it so much he then went out and bought Hidden and enjoyed it just as much. But writers actually only do 50% of the work. Books don’t really come to life until readers read them and of course then they need to enjoy them enough to read right through to the end.

F

5 Comments on LET'S CELEBRATE! - with author Miriam Halahmy and a 2 book giveaway!, last added: 5/30/2012
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25. AND THE WINNER IS...



ONE NAME HAS BEEN RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN FEEDBACK ON THE FIRST TWO PAGES OF THEIR MS BY AGENT GEMMA COOPER OF THE BRIGHT LITERARY AGENCY!



And the winner is -

SHELLIE HOLLY

with her ms 'Mysteries of the Wold'


Congratulations Shellie!

We wish everyone who entered could have won but sadly there could be only one winner.  But fear not, there will be a couple more chances for professional feedback on your YA ms and your synopsis so watch this space.

And a huge thank you to Gemma Cooper of The Bright Literary Agency for agreeing to join in with our blog celebrations in such a fantastic way!

Thanks to everyone who entered and we wish you all success on your writing journeys.
Tracy and Karen

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