Tag Archives: picture books

getting somewhere – #whatImwriting

It’s Tuesday! It’s time for ‘What I’m Writing’! Chrissie is hosting this week so pop over to Muddled Manuscript if you’re wanting to link up – we’d love to hear all about what you’re writing at the moment. Having said that, Chrissie’s suggested a ‘what I’m NOT writing’ theme this week for all those of us who are struggling to find the time/energy or motivation. It’s optional though, luckily for me…

flying saucer

A clue about one of my picture books… also evidence of why I’m not illustrating them myself!

Last week I said I was going to knuckle down and do some writing. Guess what? *trumpet fanfare* I managed it! Yes, for the first time in weeks (or is it months?) I’ve actually achieved something with my picture book manuscripts.

The key to making progress was not just having a bit more time this week but also some extra motivation. Having decided I need some professional feedback on my work, I made the decision to submit some work to a manuscript appraisal service. I figured if I’m going to submit my books to agents and/or publishers, it makes sense to get expert advice first.

When I mentioned my three manuscripts to one such service they said they could do a ‘3 for 2′ offer (“like with shampoo!” as a friend of mine said) as long as I submitted all three at the same time. So, all at once, I needed to get the three of them to a point where I was happy to send them off. The third one was in shoddy-first-draft-form so I’ve put a lot of time into that, and I’ve also done a fair bit editing work on my first story. Manuscript Two could do with more attention but one of the main problems I have with it is being unable to decide if the long version or the shorter version (yes, I somehow have two!) works best. So perhaps I should just send it as is, and get advice there…

Anyway, I’ve loved getting my teeth back into the books again and have become a bit obsessed, writing in any spare moment I have. I was up for two hours in the night with my toddler the other night (groan) and found myself leaning against his door frame in the dark, making shushing noises while the better part of my brain was thinking “does ‘exquisite’ rhyme well enough with ‘fillet’?”. By the time I staggered back to bed my brain was whirring with ridiculous rhymes!

So, all in all, a good week! And I even managed a couple of blog posts too – if you haven’t seen it, my interview with Renee Davis, mummy blogger extraordinaire and author of Become The Best You’ is well worth a read. Reneé is inspirational!

I hope you’ve had good weeks too – I’m looking forward to finding out!

writing picture books

I’m currently in the process of writing some picture books. I started writing them at different times and they’re at different stages of completion but this last week I’ve been working on all three of them at once. It’s been making me reflect on my creative process because although all three books are in rhyme and are a roughly similar length, writing each of them has been a very different experience.

frosted tree

The first book came at me out of nowhere. I wanted to write something for #ThePrompt over at MumTurnedMom and the theme that week was ‘Books’. When I sat down to write, the whole story appeared in a couple of hours. It just flowed and without any real effort I had a story about a girl who wouldn’t read. Of course, I’ve spent masses of time since editing it, re-editing it and editing it again but the entire story and structure basically happened in that first couple of hours of inspiration.

Book two actually came off the back of book one. There were a few lines (now edited out) where the girl read “Her latest book about a magic biscuit cook, whose fresh, enchanted custard creams were sure to give her sweetest dreams.” The lines didn’t make the cut but I rather liked the idea of a magic biscuit cook and decided to write a story about one.

This time round I had a reasonable idea of what the story would be before I started writing it. I also made a deliberate decision about the meter of the rhyme as I wanted it to be different from my first book. The story and the characters came into focus as I wrote it, but getting the first draft down was a lot harder work. I had to think about it and work it out and once I’d finished it I had several versions which were quite different in terms of length and story complexity. I’m currently trying to work out which version I prefer.

Book three is a whole different beast all together. The inspiration for this was my son responding to a question with “I’ve absolutely no idea”. For some reason this triggered in my head  the line “He’d absolutely no idea if aliens can even hear.” which in turn made me think ‘I know, I’ll write a book about a boy who meets some aliens!’ Of course the idea is hardly earth-shattering in originality so I then had a big think about what sort of book it would be (humorous but thoughtful) and what precisely would happen during the story in terms of key events and character development. At this point a few rhyming couplets popped into my head which gave the story its rhythm.

That was about two months ago and I’ve been writing it on and off ever since. It’s still nowhere near complete. It’s a very slow process (given the length that the finished piece will be) and I’m finding it really tricky. I’ve found myself wondering if it would be better in prose rather than verse… but then I’ve got little stretches of it that I love because of the rhythm and the pace the rhyme gives them. I have a funny feeling that if I can get this one right it will be the best of the three but I have no idea if I can pull it off at all.

So there you have it: three little stories with three very different creative processes.

Do you find your process differs between projects? What brings about the changes? Do you have a preferred way of working?

I’m sharing this with Friday Fiction as it’s the closest I’ll get to sharing extracts from any of these books! Also linking to the Wonderful World of Writing at Virtually All sorts.

Nikki Young Writes

fevered focus – #WhatImWriting

It wasn’t the week I had planned. I spent last Tuesday reading and commenting on all the wonderful #WhatImWriting posts and, having read all the inspiring comments on my own post, began Wednesday highly motivated to KICK-START MY WRITING YEAR!

On your marks, get set, WRITE

Then fate intervened and I instead spent all Wednesday afternoon holding my poor little vomiting youngest in my arms, kissing his fevered brow soothingly (what kind of fool kisses a vomiting baby’s brow? I mean, that was just asking for trouble… ). I then spent Thursday on a series of conference calls (rather than being able to attend in person due to nursery’s 48 hour vomit-exclusion rule) and playing catch up on all the things I’d failed to do the previous day).

But that was ok, these things happen, never mind, FRIDAY would be the day when I could KICK-START MY WRITING YEAR!

Oh, except my fond brow-kissing came back to haunt me when, you’ve guessed it, I started being sick too. Saturday I was mainly feeling flaky and sorry for myself and Sunday I was spending time with my kids which brings me to today. Monday night. Hmmm.

Still, it wasn’t a total washout as despite having failed to KICK-START etc. in the full-on, dedicated manner I had in mind, I did squeeze in a tiny bit of writing. And I found myself working on my picture books. All three of them simultaneously: re-writing book one, re-reading and tweaking (and self-doubitfying – that’s a word, right?) book two and still bashing out the first draft of book three. And the fact that I instinctively chose to spend my little bits of free time on those books told me something…

Last week I was wondering what on earth to focus on when there was so much I wanted to write. Now I know that – for the time being – I want to focus on my picture books. I’ve decided that my plan for between now and the end of February is to get all three to a stage where I am happy to submit them. I’m also going to work out precisely which agents I want to submit to and what those submissions will entail (Agent Hunter here I come) and then I’ll send them out. After that, it will be a case of waiting for the rejections responses to come back which is the ideal time to turn my focus elsewhere – to one or several of the other projects I’m keen to tackle.

So, I HAVE A PLAN! Not such a bad week after all, then.

Writing Bubble

something significant – #WhatImWriting

Northumbrian sunriseAnother Tuesday dawns… probably quite literally as this post is published (I’m scheduling it for 7am) unless, of course, the world has been swallowed up overnight by our evil alien overlords.

*Clears throat*

Aaaaaaanyway, it’s time for ‘What I’m Writing’! Chrissie is hosting this week so if you’re looking to link up please head over to Muddled Manuscript. There’s a fresh pot of tea on, and I’m pretty sure I heard something about biscuits…

So, to business! What have I been writing this week? Well, again I didn’t have much time (this last month has been manic) but I did manage a piece of flash fiction to link up to #ThePrompt last Friday. And that was on such a sad subject that I then asked the boys to set me a limerick challenge just to cheer things up! Apart from that I’ve spent a bit of time tinkering about with my picture books and that was it.

BUT NO, WAIT! I did do something significant! I submitted my first picture book manuscript to an agent! I know it’s not the world’s most amazing news but it’s one of those little things that feels quite big. I’ve put myself out there. Although I’ve submitted work to publications and competitions before I’ve never sent anything to an agent, so this is new territory. This is also the most passionate I’ve felt about any submission I’ve made. This little book matters to me. So yes. There you have it. Eeeek.

This week is set to be a quieter one so I’m looking forward to spending some time on my latest picture book. I’m also planning on doing a bit more blog-surfing for poetry and prose for my first Brit Mums post in early December. I’ve already got my eye on some (last week’s Prompt was full of fab pieces) and it should be fun to hunt out more.

I’m also going to spend some quality time with my family. I have a hunch my husband is rather sick of the sight of the back of my laptop and the sound of me tap tapping away! So we’re planning a trip to the cinema and out for a meal. We used to go to the cinema (just the two of us) a lot but since having kids it’s something that happens so rarely I tend to get very excited about it. Wheeeee!

Happy weeks, all!

taking the leap – #WhatImWriting

Boat quote

It’s been another busy week in the Bubble household and I haven’t had much time to write, but in all the little gaps available I’ve been… ummm… very productively ripping apart my second picture book. And putting it back together again. And then deciding it was better to begin with! Argh! Luckily a wise friend stepped in and told me it that regardless of whether I felt I’d written the ‘final draft’ all the elements were there – engaging story, appealing characters, interesting rhymes, lovely imagery – and I should just leave it alone for a while. So I’m going to do that. I have a hunch if I return to it with fresh eyes (and perhaps some wise counsel from elsewhere) I’ll be able to knock it into shape quite fast. Fingers crossed.

So I’ve now started work on book number three! I’m already quite excited about this one. Of the three of them it has the most potential for comedy and I love a chuckle while reading to my kids. I know what the overall story is, and bits of description and dialogue keep leaping into my head at random times so that’s keeping me busy too.

Meanwhile I’ve shown my first picture book to more friends (all with kids so they are very much immersed in the world of picture books at the moment) and received a resounding thumbs up. I have to say I have a particular passion for this book. It kind of ‘has my heart’ if that makes sense? So the mere idea of seeing it illustrated and published and out there is just so exciting I can’t really think too hard about it!

But I’m just at the start of a long journey with it  – and indeed all my books – and I know that along the way I’ve got to accept all manner of rejections. Just because some friends of mine love what I’ve written doesn’t mean that others will. And even if others do, there’s still a big leap from someone liking it, to liking it enough to find an illustrator for it and actually publishing it.

These doubts have been nibbling at my toes this last week and stopping me from taking the next step. After all, if I don’t submit my work anywhere then it cant get rejected can it? How clever of me to protect myself in such a way. Or not.

So, no more! I’ve been on Agent Hunter (a really helpful website that I got a free subscription to – a blog post about it, is to follow) and have scoured through the profiles of masses of agents. I’m putting together a shortlist and have found someone in particular I really want to show my work to. So this week I’m going to do it: I am going to submit my first picture book manuscript.


Writing Bubble

blogging smart – #WhatImWriting

friendly pencils quoteIiiiiiiiiiit’s Tuesday! Which means it’s time for What I’m Writing! Chrissie is hosting this week so if you’re looking to link up, please head over to Muddled Manuscript.

Well – just as I promised – a whole week has gone by since my last post. But although I’d love to report a wonderful week of writing where I achieved masses, sadly it was a bit of a damp squib. Life interfered. There was too much going on, half term started and just to top it off I was laid low by a vomiting bug. Bleurgh.

But. BUT!

Actually, a week off blogging did me a world of good. As I was struggling to juggle everything else, it was definitely a relief that at least I wasn’t trying to squeeze in blog posts too. It meant that, while I didn’t get all the agent research done that I wanted, I did at least have time to glance in that direction (I’ll say more in a future blog post…)

I also managed to get to the end of my second picture book. It’s currently on the seventh draft (and there are more drafts to come, I’m sure) and I feel I’ve got to the point of wanting to refine it rather than overhaul it. At least that’s how I feel now… give me a few weeks and fresh eyes and I could decide it needs pulling to shreds.

This week has still left me pondering the time I put into blogging though. A week between posts definitely had huge plus points. In a way, now I’ve tried it out, it’s tempting to continue… but no. I can’t – blogging is such a good kick up the bum for me, creatively speaking. And I’d miss all the linkys. But I do think I need to cut myself some slack more often. Maybe I’ll have more weeks where I don’t post. As the quote above suggests: it’s not all about quantity. ‘Blogging smart’ for me I think is going to mean being more flexible and not holding myself to a timetable. I need to be more clear about my priorities in any given week.

So, having said that, this week I’m up for a bit more blogging. I’ve already written a halloween limerick and I might just have a ghost story up my sleeve. WooOOoooOOoOOOooo. (Was that a convincing ghost noise?)

How often do you blog? Do you stick to a strict schedule? Do you put pressure on yourself to post on certain days or to always do certain linkys? I’d love to know.