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Articles on writing for children. To the uninitiated, a slushpile is the mountain of unsolicited manuscripts sent to publishers by hopeful writers like me. This is a survival guide to veterans of the slushpile. It's the least I can do while waiting to climb down from the mountain.
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1. This Blog Has Moved (Whether I like it or not)

Yup, Blogger is phasing out old blogs like mine which were set up in the days when Blogger didn't support domain names .

Since 2005 I've been hosting Notes from the Slushpile not on Blogger but on my own webspace.

Now Blogger says it's not allowed (apparently I'm one of .5 percent of their users so off with my head!).

I've had to start afresh at a new address:



not without some pain.

Thanks, Blogger.

If you have been following my blog for the past five years, I do hope you continue to follow on the new address.

If you've only just stumbled on this blog and would like to subscribe, please head over to the blogspot address and do that.

Please don't abandon me! Notes from the Slushpile is not going away soon!

Candy Gourlay is the author of TALL STORY, published by David Fickling Books, an imprint of Random House. She also blogs on CandyGourlay.blogspot.com. Her homepage is CandyGourlay.com

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2. Alice in Wonderland iPad app: the future?


Saw it on Nathan Bransford's blog

It's so cool ... but does anyone remember the excitement of the first CD Rom with all its hyperlinks and clicks and noise?

This is way cooler - but will it work with an audience as hip and desensitized to techno-dazzle? And what about READING?

Questions, questions, questions.

Someone commenting on the video said, "The Bible needs a version of this!" Now that I wanna see!

Can't wait to see the new digi-technologies for publishing at the London Book Fair - I'll be tweeting live to the blog btw - connected my mobile to Twitter, but only for this purpose.

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3. Alice in Wonderland iPad app: the future?


Saw it on Nathan Bransford's blog

It's so cool ... but does anyone remember the excitement of the first CD Rom with all its hyperlinks and clicks and noise?

This is way cooler - but will it work with an audience as hip and desensitized to techno-dazzle? And what about READING?

Questions, questions, questions.

Someone commenting on the video said, "The Bible needs a version of this!" Now that I wanna see!

Can't wait to see the new digi-technologies for publishing at the London Book Fair - I'll be tweeting live to the blog btw - connected my mobile to Twitter, but only for this purpose.

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4. This blog has moved


This blog is now located at http://blog.notesfromtheslushpile.co.uk/.
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to
http://blog.notesfromtheslushpile.co.uk/feeds/posts/default.

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5. Formulaic Trailer 101

I am currently working on my book trailer with (it just so happens) my brother who is a motion graphics person and a director (useful).

The trailer is going to be less than two minutes (possibley less than one) and already I've learned huge amount about reveals and sound and visual impact ... which I will share with you when we're done.

Meanwhile, I saw this hilarious take on the indisputably formulaic nature of trailers on Sarah McIntyre's twitter feed!

3 Comments on Formulaic Trailer 101, last added: 4/14/2010
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6. Formulaic Trailer 101

I am currently working on my book trailer with (it just so happens) my brother who is a motion graphics person and a director (useful).

The trailer is going to be less than two minutes (possibley less than one) and already I've learned huge amount about reveals and sound and visual impact ... which I will share with you when we're done.

Meanwhile, I saw this hilarious take on the indisputably formulaic nature of trailers on Sarah McIntyre's twitter feed!

0 Comments on Formulaic Trailer 101 as of 1/1/1900
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7. My Not Quite Bologna Fair Report: meeting friends old and new


This (Ryanair's bag scales) is where it all began.

I only went to Bologna because I got a cheap ticket from Ryanair - the reason it was cheap because the return ticket left on the morning of the Bologna Fair's first day.So no fair for me. (Check out illustrator John Shelley's blog post about the Bologna fair)

But I figured the one day SCBWI Symposium was worth the trip.

Publishers of course tend to be too posh to fly Ryanair, except there was a BA strike so they were forced to travel with commoners like me or take long, long train journeys from other parts of Europe. So on the morning of my flight, Ryanair had a field day, stopping editors and publishers trying to sneak books by the ton into their cabin baggage.

Bologna Airport is one of the easiest airports to arrive in. You land, you get your bag, walk out the door, turn right and get on the bus. The bus takes you into the centre of town for ten euros. Sometimes the bus driver forgets to collect your fare. Just saying.

Last year, at the SCBWI conference in Winchester, author Meg Rossoff said once she got published, it became clear to her that she seemed to have a strange power. Everyone she met in the publishing world got pregnant. A warning to all. Indeed, waiting in the queue for baggage, I could hear small groups of publishers chatting away. Their topic? Pregnancy and maternity leave. I looked around but there was no sign of Meg.

I stayed at the I Portici hotel which had a minimalist bed ...

And a not so minimimalist shower.

It didn't beam me anywhere but one of the nozzles did fall off, mid flow.

This trip to Bologna was all by my lonesome. But Bologna is the land of serendipity.

7 Comments on My Not Quite Bologna Fair Report: meeting friends old and new, last added: 4/2/2010
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8. My Not Quite Bologna Fair Report: meeting friends old and new


This (Ryanair's bag scales) is where it all began.

I only went to Bologna because I got a cheap ticket from Ryanair - the reason it was cheap because the return ticket left on the morning of the Bologna Fair's first day.So no fair for me. (Check out illustrator John Shelley's blog post about the Bologna fair)

But I figured the one day SCBWI Symposium was worth the trip.

Publishers of course tend to be too posh to fly Ryanair, except there was a BA strike so they were forced to travel with commoners like me or take long, long train journeys from other parts of Europe. So on the morning of my flight, Ryanair had a field day, stopping editors and publishers trying to sneak books by the ton into their cabin baggage.

Bologna Airport is one of the easiest airports to arrive in. You land, you get your bag, walk out the door, turn right and get on the bus. The bus takes you into the centre of town for ten euros. Sometimes the bus driver forgets to collect your fare. Just saying.

Last year, at the SCBWI conference in Winchester, author Meg Rossoff said once she got published, it became clear to her that she seemed to have a strange power. Everyone she met in the publishing world got pregnant. A warning to all. Indeed, waiting in the queue for baggage, I could hear small groups of publishers chatting away. Their topic? Pregnancy and maternity leave. I looked around but there was no sign of Meg.

I stayed at the I Portici hotel which had a minimalist bed ...

And a not so minimimalist shower.

It didn't beam me anywhere but one of the nozzles did fall off, mid flow.

This trip to Bologna was all by my lonesome. But Bologna is the land of serendipity.

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9. Mayhewmania: in which our hero Jonathan Mayhew launches Mortlock and a flock of SCBWI fans turn up

So yeah, I was supposed to still be blogging about Bologna - about Ellen Hopkins' really cool talk about writing for teenagers and how to win prizes as explained by Leonard Marcus and the making of Coralilne as told by Fiona Kenshole and various other cool bits and pieces that happened.

But events have overtaken me.

Specifically, the launch of Jonathan Mayhew's amazing new Victorian gothic book MORTLOCK (the young heroine is a knife thrower. How cool is that?)

I went to the book launch (originally, I wasn't invited but we SCBWI people have our ways and managed to force Jon to give up some invites).

It was a thrilling evening at the Water Poet pub in Shoreditch - if you ignored the fabulous shopping and cafes and restaurants, it's like, cobbled Jack the Ripper land. Here is a slideshow of launch photos (thanks to Kathryn Evans and Sue Eves for additional photos):



Did I mention that most of the attendees had a striking resemblance to Jon?

The Mayhew family. Jon said the heroes were composites of his children - or did he say villains?

The SCBWI crowd turned up dressed in Victorian black with a touch of raven and shadows.

 
9 Comments on Mayhewmania: in which our hero Jonathan Mayhew launches Mortlock and a flock of SCBWI fans turn up, last added: 4/1/2010
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10. Mayhewmania: in which our hero Jonathan Mayhew launches Mortlock and a flock of SCBWI fans turn up

So yeah, I was supposed to still be blogging about Bologna - about Ellen Hopkins' really cool talk about writing for teenagers and how to win prizes as explained by Leonard Marcus and the making of Coralilne as told by Fiona Kenshole and various other cool bits and pieces that happened.

But events have overtaken me.

Specifically, the launch of Jonathan Mayhew's amazing new Victorian gothic book MORTLOCK (the young heroine is a knife thrower. How cool is that?)

I went to the book launch (originally, I wasn't invited but we SCBWI people have our ways and managed to force Jon to give up some invites).

It was a thrilling evening at the Water Poet pub in Shoreditch - if you ignored the fabulous shopping and cafes and restaurants, it's like, cobbled Jack the Ripper land. Here is a slideshow of launch photos (thanks to Kathryn Evans and Sue Eves for additional photos):



Did I mention that most of the attendees had a striking resemblance to Jon?

The Mayhew family. Jon said the heroes were composites of his children - or did he say villains?

The SCBWI crowd turned up dressed in Victorian black with a touch of raven and shadows.

11. Guest Blogger Teri Terry: confessions of an unpublished children's writer

Teri Terry is one of those writing friends I met online, and have been lucky enough to have a peek at some of her works in progress which are very, very good.

She currently divides her time between writing, stalking agents and publishers, and working in a library in Bucks. She is contemplating a research Masters degree at Bedfordshire on limits in YA literature. Teri won second prize in Writing for Children 12-plus at the 2009 Winchester Writers Conference, and first prize in ages 8-11 the previous year. She has written seven novels to date. She is currently stalking agents and publishers with a YA fantasy, Life's a Beach, Katie Moon, in which Katie sells her soul to surf, and also an adult crime series, Ready Steady Die: shades of Janet Evanovich, but as it is set in England, more polite and with fewer guns. Work in progress includes a YA horror story, Claustrophobia, and a dystopian fantasy, Slated.

That Teri is still an author-in-waiting is, I believe, a temporary situation. It's only a matter of time, Teri.

I have a confession to make.

I suffer from Rosoff-envy. I can’t help it. I can’t read any of her stuff without turning a deep shade of lime green and reaching for chocolate.

Teri Terry writing while wrapped in sleeping bag; 
Teri (right) in a deep shade of lime green

So I couldn’t resist going to hear Meg Rosoff and Mal Peet speak at the Oxford Literary Festival.

The blurb had it that they were going to tackle what it means to write for Young Adults, and it was even capitalized. They were going to chip away at the limits of teenage fiction; avoid its comfort zones; discuss edginess, and risks. And Meg’s blog also promised it would be ‘chaotic, messy, and horribly indiscreet’.

Soldiering on despite sneezing and sniffling and general germy-ness, I caught the bus to Oxford, prepared to be shocked.

As promised, there was no moderator to rein them in. They were free to interrupt each other at will, and they did.

Meg began by introducing Mal, winner of the 2009 Guardian Children’s Fiction Award for Exposure. She then read a lyrical passage from Penalty, despite claiming to know and care abo

16 Comments on Guest Blogger Teri Terry: confessions of an unpublished children's writer, last added: 4/1/2010
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12. Guest Blogger Teri Terry: confessions of an unpublished children's writer

Teri Terry is one of those writing friends I met online, and have been lucky enough to have a peek at some of her works in progress which are very, very good.

She currently divides her time between writing, stalking agents and publishers, and working in a library in Bucks. She is contemplating a research Masters degree at Bedfordshire on limits in YA literature. Teri won second prize in Writing for Children 12-plus at the 2009 Winchester Writers Conference, and first prize in ages 8-11 the previous year. She has written seven novels to date. She is currently stalking agents and publishers with a YA fantasy, Life's a Beach, Katie Moon, in which Katie sells her soul to surf, and also an adult crime series, Ready Steady Die: shades of Janet Evanovich, but as it is set in England, more polite and with fewer guns. Work in progress includes a YA horror story, Claustrophobia, and a dystopian fantasy, Slated.

That Teri is still an author-in-waiting is, I believe, a temporary situation. It's only a matter of time, Teri.

I have a confession to make.

I suffer from Rosoff-envy. I can’t help it. I can’t read any of her stuff without turning a deep shade of lime green and reaching for chocolate.

Teri Terry writing while wrapped in sleeping bag; 
Teri (right) in a deep shade of lime green

So I couldn’t resist going to hear Meg Rosoff and Mal Peet speak at the Oxford Literary Festival.

The blurb had it that they were going to tackle what it means to write for Young Adults, and it was even capitalized. They were going to chip away at the limits of teenage fiction; avoid its comfort zones; discuss edginess, and risks. And Meg’s blog also promised it would be ‘chaotic, messy, and horribly indiscreet’.

Soldiering on despite sneezing and sniffling and general germy-ness, I caught the bus to Oxford, prepared to be shocked.

As promised, there was no moderator to rein them in. They were free to interrupt each other at will, and they did.

Meg began by introducing Mal, winner of the 2009 Guardian Children’s Fiction Award for Exposure. She then read a lyrical passage from Penalty, despite claiming to know and care abo

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13. Richard Peck: "All novels are based on an epiphany"

I'm still high from having written my post Richard Peck on the beating heart of what we do as children's writers. So I had to see if any of his speeches were on YouTube. I found this:



At the end of the interview (in case you don't get there because your attention span has been so shortened by hours in front of facebook) the interviewer asks him for one word that captures the role of children's authors, aspiring or published.

"Responsibility."

He didn't hesitate.

4 Comments on Richard Peck: "All novels are based on an epiphany", last added: 3/25/2010
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14. Richard Peck: "All novels are based on an epiphany"

I'm still high from having written my post Richard Peck on the beating heart of what we do as children's writers. So I had to see if any of his speeches were on YouTube. I found this:



At the end of the interview (in case you don't get there because your attention span has been so shortened by hours in front of facebook) the interviewer asks him for one word that captures the role of children's authors, aspiring or published.

"Responsibility."

He didn't hesitate.

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15. Richard Peck on the beating heart of what we do as children's writers

If you cannot find yourself on the page very early in life, you will go looking for yourself in all the wrong places.

When Richard Peck said that, I would have applauded had I not been typing as fast I could to get down his every meaty line.

In all his books, he said, he always has an older character."I always put old people in, just in case there are no old people in my readers's lives. Just in case they no longer have to write thank you notes to their grandparents. A book, like a school, should provide what is no longer available in life ."

Mr. Peck was speaking at the 2010 SCBWI Symposium in Bologna. He is now 76 and it is nine years since he won the Newbery Medal for A Year Down Yonder, a book that few publishers would embrace these days because not only is it of a very specific regional bent, its lead character is a big fat and old lady, plus there is not a single handsome bloodsucker in sight.

His theme had somewhat evolved from the announced  topic "The Right Books Right Now" to what drives or should drive us children's authors to write for "a generation who knows no earlier century, who knows no time but now, and who recognizes no government but the peer group."

Says Mr. Peck: "We write for a generation we never were because ours is a higher calling: a deeper craft", trying to woo "a readership whose facebooks glow hot into the night long after their parents are fast asleep".

He listed what was required of us in breathtaking language:
  • "We have crossed  terrible minefields of our own making ... the opening mine of the opening line. Are we writing with invitational simplicity without a word to slow it down?" He cites as an example of an opening with "invitational simplicity" a line from EB White's Charlotte's Web: "Where is Papa going with that axe?" 
  • "Like no other authors we can doom ourselves before we start, fall at the first fence ... when the thickets of our dark woods see the adverbs coiling to strike. Boys don’t use adverbs. Boys live in an unqualified word." He quotes Mark Twain: "If you see an adverb, shoot it.
  • "We have to write as the readers. We cannot write as ourselves ...We must write nearer to our readers and farther from ourselves than any other kind of writer.". 
  • "Character development is the beating heart of what we do." 
  • "Dialogue is best written standing up. It improves the pace ... I write with my feet. That way I can act out my scenes when I get to the kids. If you are unwilling to get up and act out any of your scenes, you will be reduced to writing for adults 
  • "The hard truth that a story must entertain first before it can do anything else ... and what entertains you and me doesn’t necessarily

    18 Comments on Richard Peck on the beating heart of what we do as children's writers, last added: 3/25/2010
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16. Richard Peck on the beating heart of what we do as children's writers

If you cannot find yourself on the page very early in life, you will go looking for yourself in all the wrong places.

When Richard Peck said that, I would have applauded had I not been typing as fast I could to get down his every meaty line.

In all his books, he said, he always has an older character."I always put old people in, just in case there are no old people in my readers's lives. Just in case they no longer have to write thank you notes to their grandparents. A book, like a school, should provide what is no longer available in life ."

Mr. Peck was speaking at the 2010 SCBWI Symposium in Bologna. He is now 76 and it is nine years since he won the Newbery Medal for A Year Down Yonder, a book that few publishers would embrace these days because not only is it of a very specific regional bent, its lead character is a big fat and old lady, plus there is not a single handsome bloodsucker in sight.

His theme had somewhat evolved from the announced  topic "The Right Books Right Now" to what drives or should drive us children's authors to write for "a generation who knows no earlier century, who knows no time but now, and who recognizes no government but the peer group."

Says Mr. Peck: "We write for a generation we never were because ours is a higher calling: a deeper craft", trying to woo "a readership whose facebooks glow hot into the night long after their parents are fast asleep".

He listed what was required of us in breathtaking language:
  • "We have crossed  terrible minefields of our own making ... the opening mine of the opening line. Are we writing with invitational simplicity without a word to slow it down?" He cites as an example of an opening with "invitational simplicity" a line from EB White's Charlotte's Web: "Where is Papa going with that axe?" 
  • "Like no other authors we can doom ourselves before we start, fall at the first fence ... when the thickets of our dark woods see the adverbs coiling to strike. Boys don’t use adverbs. Boys live in an unqualified word." He quotes Mark Twain: "If you see an adverb, shoot it.
  • "We have to write as the readers. We cannot write as ourselves ...We must write nearer to our readers and farther from ourselves than any other kind of writer.". 
  • "Character development is the beating heart of what we do." 
  • "Dialogue is best written standing up. It improves the pace ... I write with my feet. That way I can act out my scenes when I get to the kids. If you are unwilling to get up and act out any of your scenes, you will be reduced to writing for adults 
  • "The hard truth that a story must entertain first before it can do anything else ... and what entertains you a

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17. Off to SCBWI's Bologna Symposium 2010

Well it's Bologna time again! Here are some photos from my very first trip to Bologna back in 2006 to attend the SCBWI conference, which has now been renamed as a 'symposium' (visit the SCBWI Bologna website if you feel like signing up at the last minute).


If you're on Facebook and can't view the slideshow, you can view it here

I must confess I had to look up the meaning of symposium to find out what makes it different from a conference:
n.pl.-si·ums, or -si·a (-zē-ə).
  1. A meeting or conference for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants form an audience and make presentations.
  2. A collection of writings on a particular topic, as in a magazine.
  3. A convivial meeting for drinking, music, and intellectual discussion among the ancient Greeks.
Ancient SCBWI symposium 475BC 

So ... well, I'm not going to try to explain.

Anyway ... two great things happened on that first SCBWI conference in Bologna.

1. I met a shy Italian named Paolo who loved fantasy and wrote in English. He has remained a close writing buddy ever since - I love his cinematic plot lines! Here's the terrific website he built for his wip The Vespertine Hour.

2. I discovered Scott Westerfeld . I was so impressed by 10 Comments on Off to SCBWI's Bologna Symposium 2010, last added: 3/21/2010
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18. Off to SCBWI's Bologna Symposium 2010

Well it's Bologna time again! Here are some photos from my very first trip to Bologna back in 2006 to attend the SCBWI conference, which has now been renamed as a 'symposium' (visit the SCBWI Bologna website if you feel like signing up at the last minute).


If you're on Facebook and can't view the slideshow, you can view it here

I must confess I had to look up the meaning of symposium to find out what makes it different from a conference:
n.pl.-si·ums, or -si·a (-zē-ə).
  1. A meeting or conference for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants form an audience and make presentations.
  2. A collection of writings on a particular topic, as in a magazine.
  3. A convivial meeting for drinking, music, and intellectual discussion among the ancient Greeks.
Ancient SCBWI symposium 475BC 

So ... well, I'm not going to try to explain.

Anyway ... two great things happened on that first SCBWI conference in Bologna.

1. I met a shy Italian named Paolo who loved fantasy and wrote in English. He has remained a close writing buddy ever since - I love his cinematic plot lines! Here's the terrific website he built for his wip The Vespertine Hour.

2. I discovered Scott Westerfeld . I was so impressed by 0 Comments on Off to SCBWI's Bologna Symposium 2010 as of 1/1/1900
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19. Guest Blogger Kathryn Evans: fat fibs and proper work

Guest blogger Kathryn Evans is possibly the only belly-dancing-farmer’s-wife- mother-of-two practising to be an author in West Sussex. Nearing the end of her 10,000 year writing apprenticeship, she is currently seeking a home for:
SKIN: Surviving cryostasis for 250 years is the least of Laura’s problems. When her little brother Alfie falls dangerously ill, Laura risks more than her own life to save him. A twisted journey of discovery for 12+.
DYLAN AND MOUSE: Lonely Dylan befriends Mouse, a rodent with a hamster complex and an endless supply of inappropriate costumes. A series of comic adventures for 7+.
All enquires to her agent Sophie Hicks
When Candy asked me to be a guest blogger, I nearly said no. I can’t follow on from  Keren David's guest post! I’ve read Keren's When I was Joe, it’s brilliant.

I am unworthy, unpublished and …ah, in need of publicity. I swiftly changed my mind, before Candy could change hers. After all, this is Notes from The Slush Pile, That I can write about.

I take it seriously, my author apprenticeship. I spend half the week on farm work and the other half writing. By some miracle of parenting, I also find extra bits of week in which I look after my family.


It isn’t easy and makes for conversations like this:
Daughter: ‘Mummy, I need to talk to you about something reeeeaaalllly important.’

Me: ‘Can it wait half an hour darling? I’m working.’

Daughter: ‘You’re on Facebook, aren’t you?’

Me: ‘No. I’m working.’

Daughter: ‘But Mummy, I reeeaaallly need to talk to you.’

Me: ‘Can I just finish this chapter?’

Daughter: ‘Oh, so it’s not proper work then? Good, because I really need a haircut and I don’t know if I should dye my hair red and Mr B*****t was so annoying today and it wasn’t my fault and can I go out on Friday? And, and, and……’
Don’t misunderstand me; I want to listen to my daughter download her day but then, I have to write late into the night. I could just go to bed. No one is going to tell me off. I’m not breaking any contractual obligations.

But I don’t.

I work until my eyes are gritty.

Why?

What is this passion?

Where does it come from?

Maybe it started in 1978, seeing my first poem published. The thrill, the utter thrill of putting words together and seeing them in print; basking in the heart swelling warmth of Miss Heathen’s approval.
Volcano
by Kathryn Hodgkiss
Age 9


I am a volcano, under the sea,
21 Comments on Guest Blogger Kathryn Evans: fat fibs and proper work, last added: 2/5/2010
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20. Guest Blogger Gillian Philip: the landscape of us

When I read Crossing the Line, Gillian Philip's evocative teen novel, I was amazed at its unabashed Scottishness. Being from Somewhere Else (sunny Philippines), I struggle with the need to frame stories from within my cultural identity while hoping to appeal to readers in the West where I live. My very first novel (yet to be published - perhaps never), had English characters and a European setting. It had SNOW no less - at a time when I had yet to see the stuff though no longer. I was genuinely afraid anything I wrote would be labelled an 'issue' novel or too foreign to be commercial.
 An agent gently told me in so many words that it would be tough to sell a debut novel by an author who had no cultural connection to the story. So I decided to have a go at a novel with a Filipino element. It was only when I began to build worlds with Filipino characters that I felt my words began to sing . . .

And now here's Gillian!
‘Identity,’ Candy suggested, and I went ‘Gulp.’

I was thrilled to be asked to guest on Candy’s amazing blog, and delighted that she made a suggestion for a subject (because I’m not very good at thinking of them), but as soon as I thought about it my mouth went all dry. I’m not very good at identity either, I realised. But ‘I was very struck by the Scottishness of Crossing the Line,’ Candy told me, ‘which is why I suggested identity.’

Which set me wondering why it did have a strong Scottish flavour. Yes, the book is set in Scotland, though like my other novel Bad Faith, it never says so. Generally speaking, though, readers seem to ‘get’ the setting (Keren David, the author who guested here a couple of weeks ago, got one location right to within about twenty metres). I don’t think I could have set those books anywhere else. I don’t think that’s a strength. It’s probably indicative of a typically Scottish insularity.

I was an expat wife in the West Indies for twelve years and because I was without a work permit for a lot of that time, and childless for all of it, you’d think I would have used my vast quantities of spare time to write. I’d always wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t like my career was going places other than a beach bar at the bottom of our hill.
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21. Flight of the Undiscovered: Voices Coming Soon on a Children's Bookshelf Near You

This was their moment!

Suddenly, after years of being supplicants to the great and good of publishing, our SCBWI heroes find themselves the object of a schmooze-for-all, with agents, editors and publishers eager to check them out at the launch of the Undiscovered Voices anthology for 2010.

In 2008, the first ever SCBWI British Isles Undiscovered Voices competition led to all 12 winners (including me, yay!) being signed by agents.

And here's who we have to blame, The Saras (Sara Grant and Sara O'Connor) - who conceptualized the Undiscovered Voices and made it happen. Should you run into them, please be sure to kiss the hems of their skirts (or trousers), they have changed some lives BIG TIME - including mine.

The Saras (Grant and O'Connor)

Sara G and Sara O

Of the 12 2008 winners, eight now have book deals and an array of nominations, shortlistings, longlistings for the gamut of prizes available in the children's book world, including:
The Blue Peter book award
Barnes and Noble Top Teen book for 2009
American Library Association Best Book for Young Readers
2010 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize
Branford Boase First novel award
Borders Book of the Month
Steve HartleySarwat Chadda, and Harriet Goodwin - the first three of the original Undiscovered Voices to see their books in print - were present as were copies of their books for signing.

Steve Hartley Sarwat Chadda Harriet Goodwin
Okay. Apologies to Harriet (right) and Steve (left). But that's what comes from not taking the time to pose properly. You should really try to be more like Sarwat (center). Just smile.

Here's the cheat sheet that all guests were provided with so that they could target their desired author with appropriate ardour:


It's quite remarkable to think that the lives of these 12 somewhat shy people are about to change forever.

Watching the winners screwing up their courage to talk to agents they had previously feared, I remembered what it was like two years ago when I spent the launch party cowering in the company of friends rather than schmoozing the great and good.

21 Comments on Flight of the Undiscovered: Voices Coming Soon on a Children's Bookshelf Near You, last added: 3/1/2010
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22. Guest Blogger Fiona Dunbar: a Mother's Day Tale

It's Mothering Sunday this weekend and to mark the day, my guest blogger and friend Fiona Dunbar has written this moving tribute to her mother, who herself had writing aspirations. Fiona is the author of the Lulu Baker trilogy which has been turned into the TV series Jinx, and the Silk Sisters trilogy which features a girl with the power to change like a chameleon. You can follow Fiona's blog here. Welcome to the Slushpile, Fiona!
I have killed my father. 

He lies over the desk in the study. The angle of his neck is wrong and from where I am sitting, I can see the side of his dead eye and thick blood at the corner of his mouth…


So begins a science fiction story called The Medusa Plant that, to my knowledge, has never been published. Or maybe it was – if so, it’s all lost in the mist of time now. It was written by my mother.

For years, I strenuously avoided turning into my mum. Having completely idolised her as a child, I then morphed into a teenager, and the rose-tinted spectacles came off. I vowed not to be loud and embarrassing in social situations like her, or have such disastrous relationships with men, or fail repeatedly at achieving goals, such as getting one’s work published.

I really don't know why Fiona doesn't want to turn into her yummy mummy

Not that I had any such ambitions at that time. In those days, my creative impulse was channelled not into writing, but drawing. (I have always written, but back then, the words were a mere adjunct to the pictures). Everything I produced was pronounced a marvel by my mum – and therefore, as far as I was concerned, utter rubbish.
Cornwall 1971: Interesting this photo because grown up Fiona so looks like her mum (see black and white pic below of Fiona with her kids)


This is th

10 Comments on Guest Blogger Fiona Dunbar: a Mother's Day Tale, last added: 3/14/2010
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23. Guest Blogger Fiona Dunbar: a Mother's Day Tale

It's Mothering Sunday this weekend and to mark the day, my guest blogger and friend Fiona Dunbar has written this moving tribute to her mother, who herself had writing aspirations. Fiona is the author of the Lulu Baker trilogy which has been turned into the TV series Jinx, and the Silk Sisters trilogy which features a girl with the power to change like a chameleon. You can follow Fiona's blog here. Welcome to the Slushpile, Fiona!
I have killed my father. 

He lies over the desk in the study. The angle of his neck is wrong and from where I am sitting, I can see the side of his dead eye and thick blood at the corner of his mouth…


So begins a science fiction story called The Medusa Plant that, to my knowledge, has never been published. Or maybe it was – if so, it’s all lost in the mist of time now. It was written by my mother.

For years, I strenuously avoided turning into my mum. Having completely idolised her as a child, I then morphed into a teenager, and the rose-tinted spectacles came off. I vowed not to be loud and embarrassing in social situations like her, or have such disastrous relationships with men, or fail repeatedly at achieving goals, such as getting one’s work published.

I really don't know why Fiona doesn't want to turn into her yummy mummy

Not that I had any such ambitions at that time. In those days, my creative impulse was channelled not into writing, but drawing. (I have always written, but back then, the words were a mere adjunct to the pictures). Everything I produced was pronounced a marvel by my mum – and therefore, as far as I was concerned, utter rubbish.
Cornwall 1971: Interesting this photo because grown up Fiona so looks like her mum (see black and white pic below of Fiona with her kids)


This is th

0 Comments on Guest Blogger Fiona Dunbar: a Mother's Day Tale as of 1/1/1900
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24. Flight of the Undiscovered: Voices Coming Soon on a Children's Bookshelf Near You

This was their moment!

Suddenly, after years of being supplicants to the great and good of publishing, our SCBWI heroes find themselves the object of a schmooze-for-all, with agents, editors and publishers eager to check them out at the launch of the Undiscovered Voices anthology for 2010.

In 2008, the first ever SCBWI British Isles Undiscovered Voices competition led to all 12 winners (including me, yay!) being signed by agents.

And here's who we have to blame, The Saras (Sara Grant and Sara O'Connor) - who conceptualized the Undiscovered Voices and made it happen. Should you run into them, please be sure to kiss the hems of their skirts (or trousers), they have changed some lives BIG TIME - including mine.

The Saras (Grant and O'Connor)

Sara G and Sara O

Of the 12 2008 winners, eight now have book deals and an array of nominations, shortlistings, longlistings for the gamut of prizes available in the children's book world, including:
The Blue Peter book award
Barnes and Noble Top Teen book for 2009
American Library Association Best Book for Young Readers
2010 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize
Branford Boase First novel award
Borders Book of the Month
Steve HartleySarwat Chadda, and Harriet Goodwin - the first three of the original Undiscovered Voices to see their books in print - were present as were copies of their books for signing.

Steve Hartley Sarwat Chadda Harriet Goodwin
Okay. Apologies to Harriet (right) and Steve (left). But that's what comes from not taking the time to pose properly. You should really try to be more like Sarwat (center). Just smile.

Here's the cheat sheet that all guests were provided with so that they could target their desired author with appropriate ardour:


It's quite remarkable to think that the lives of these 12 somewhat shy people are about to change forever.

Watching the winners screwing up their courage to talk to agents they had previously feared, I remembered what it was like two years ago when I spent the launch party cowering in the company of friends rather than schmoozing the great and good.

0 Comments on Flight of the Undiscovered: Voices Coming Soon on a Children's Bookshelf Near You as of 1/1/1900
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25. Guest Blogger Gillian Philip: the landscape of us

When I read Crossing the Line, Gillian Philip's evocative teen novel, I was amazed at its unabashed Scottishness. Being from Somewhere Else (sunny Philippines), I struggle with the need to frame stories from within my cultural identity while hoping to appeal to readers in the West where I live. My very first novel (yet to be published - perhaps never), had English characters and a European setting. It had SNOW no less - at a time when I had yet to see the stuff though no longer. I was genuinely afraid anything I wrote would be labelled an 'issue' novel or too foreign to be commercial.
 An agent gently told me in so many words that it would be tough to sell a debut novel by an author who had no cultural connection to the story. So I decided to have a go at a novel with a Filipino element. It was only when I began to build worlds with Filipino characters that I felt my words began to sing . . .

And now here's Gillian!
‘Identity,’ Candy suggested, and I went ‘Gulp.’

I was thrilled to be asked to guest on Candy’s amazing blog, and delighted that she made a suggestion for a subject (because I’m not very good at thinking of them), but as soon as I thought about it my mouth went all dry. I’m not very good at identity either, I realised. But ‘I was very struck by the Scottishness of Crossing the Line,’ Candy told me, ‘which is why I suggested identity.’

Which set me wondering why it did have a strong Scottish flavour. Yes, the book is set in Scotland, though like my other novel Bad Faith, it never says so. Generally speaking, though, readers seem to ‘get’ the setting (Keren David, the author who guested here a couple of weeks ago, got one location right to within about twenty metres). I don’t think I could have set those books anywhere else. I don’t think that’s a strength. It’s probably indicative of a typically Scottish insularity.

I was an expat wife in the West Indies for twelve years and because I was without a work permit for a lot of that time, and childless for all of it, you’d think I would have used my vast quantities of spare time to write. I’d always wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t like my career was going places other than a beach bar at the bottom of our hill.
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