Tag Archives: submissions

writing, submitting and casting spells

sunset

Just a quick one from me as it’s half term and we’re about to head off for a few days to the Harry Potter Studios! My nine-year-old is a huge Harry Potter fan – he and I have both read all the books and watched (most of) the films. We’ve just been watching The Goblet of Fire to get ourselves in the mood. Very exciting – I’ll let you know how it goes! I may well cover Instagram with photos!

Before I go, I do have a teeny bit of news to report on the writing front. I’ve just submitted three picture book manuscripts to an agent! I really meant to send off a batch of five or six (one of the pieces of advice I heard at the Festival of Writing was to submit this way) but researching suitable agents and following the different submission guidelines takes time and I just wasn’t getting round to it. So, since I had an agent in mind who I knew I wanted to submit to, I figured I’d send my manuscripts to her first and go from there.

Submitting also meant I spent lots of time last week polishing my third manuscript (one and two were already good to go) and I’m pretty happy with it now. It’s the only non-rhyming book I’ve written and though I love rhyme, prose translates more easily, making it better in commercial terms (potential for huge international sales, see!) so I figured I should at least give it a go. The book was actually inspired by this picture I drew back in February – I had a hunch Stanley had a story so I’m quite chuffed to be right! Stanley's jumper

Oh, and on the subject of drawing, I had an inspiring conversation with a friend about all the pictures we’ve done this year. Plans are afoot – watch this space!

That’s it for now, I’m off to cast some spells.

Writing Bubble

where I’m at – #WhatImWriting

It’s Monday, the boys are back at school and it’s time for a proper ‘What I’m Writing’ post! I haven’t written about writing-y stuff for a while so there are a few things to catch up on.

trees

My ideal writer’s retreat – a forest glade in the sunshine. I haven’t retreated here to write yet (this was taken yesterday and I had two small boys with me) but I’m determined to at some point!

CampNaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) happens in November and is an online community of writers all aiming to write a novel in a month. A NOVEL IN A MONTH! Obviously I’m not crazy/talented/dedicated enough to attempt such a thing but I have signed up to the camp version which is this month. This is much more laid-back as you get to pick your own word count and your project can be anything word-related. I did it two years ago and wrote 15,000 words – it really helped with my motivation.

This time round I’ve set myself a target of 5,000 words because I want to focus on my picture books which aren’t really about word count at all. I’ve also decided to include blog posts in the target. Within this, there is also a hidden reading challenge as three of the blog posts I want to write are book reviews and I need to read the books first! So far, I’ve written 2194 words (although that doesn’t include this post!) but that’s all blogging and NO picture books! I WILL write some soon, I WILL!

London Book Fair

I’m going! I’m not quite sure what to expect but there are lots of interesting seminars to attend and people to network with, all in the area of writing and publishing and all under one roof, so it sounds fab to me! It’s this week and I’m combining it with a business conference and a meet up with some blogging friends, and also bookending it with nights at my parents house (I’m leaving my youngest with them) so it’s going to be a busy week. I fully expect to reach Friday exhausted with my head in a spin but I know it will be worth it.

Agent Submissions

I wrote a while back about having submitted some of my picture book manuscripts to agents. Thankfully at The Festival of Writing back in September we were all told how tricky it is to find an agent and how incredibly common rejection is, so the responses I’ve had (or rather, the three no responses, one rejection and a ‘we didn’t get your MS can you resend?’ followed by silence) haven’t really got to me. I just need to try again. The issue is finding the time to do so, as agent research and meeting the submission requirements is not a swift process. I know I’m procrastinating though and I just need to prioritise it. Basically, in my juggly life, unless I prioritise things, they don’t get done!

Blogging

Oh man, blogging is time-consuming, it really is. Not just the writing of posts (although I don’t seem to have a gift for speed, it has to be said) but the promotional activity (which I keep deciding I need to focus more on, then failing) and the social side (which is lovely but takes time and energy). When you’re a blogger who wants to write other things – novels, short stories or whatever – you do find yourself wondering if you’ve got the balance right. I do, anyway. Blogging is taking a lot of my focus at the moment. The blog post I wrote about education got so much attention (by my standards) that I’ve not felt able to concentrate on other types of writing because there’s been so much going in in my head. And there are more blog posts brewing too. I’m hoping CampNano helps me put some energy elsewhere.

I’d better leave it at that, I as I have planning, organising and packing to do for the week ahead!

Writing Bubble

taking the next step – agent submissions

It’s half term which means I’m strapped for writing time so I’ll have to make this quick. And ok, I admit it – a friend just asked me if I’d been watching From Darkness on BBC 1, describing it as ‘proper gripping and scary’ so obviously I’m going to have to watch it by firelight as soon as I’ve finished typing this. I want an early night so let’s crack on!

staircase

I haven’t done any proper writing updates for a while but this week I do actually have some news – *drumroll* I’ve finally submitted a couple of my picture book manuscripts to agents! Just a small selection (and as advised at the Festival of Writing I let each of them know I was submitting to a few others too – honesty is the best policy… I hope) but it was still a big step. I’ve been working on the books for so long, had them professionally edited, made changes, made more changes, made even more… you get the picture, but last week I finally felt ready to send them out.

And it felt good. Not that I have high hopes of getting any yeses – I’m very aware of how stiff the competition is. Agents can receive thousands of manuscripts a year and take on only a handful of new clients so they’re not just looking for something they like, they’re looking for something they love – something that leaps out and excites them. And it has to be saleable too and they have to feel they can work with it and work with the author. It’s a tall order.

So I’m realistic about my (small) chance of success at this point and I accept the likelihood of rejection but I’m not downhearted, I’m determined and hopeful and even a little bit excited too because, well, you never know do you? And that, for me, is the difference between having work that’s sitting on my hard drive and work out there in the big wide world. The crackle of potential – of what if, of maybe.

So, yes, it’s done. And now I wait. Well, no, actually the plan is not so much to wait as to entirely forget all about it – the agents listed various response times but mostly a couple of months and given we’re now in late October I’m probably safer putting it from my mind till the new year. Which is good because I’ve got plenty of other things to focus my attention on. I still want to get my third picture book sorted and I’ve had an idea of a fourth (non-rhyming this time) that I’d love to get to work on, and then there’s my blog and work and these funny little people that are dashing around my ankles a lot of the time at the moment. Because it’s half term you see.

So I’d best be off.

Muddled Manuscript

about time – #WhatImWriting

I was hoping to have something exciting or proactive to report for #WhatImWriting this week and also to have written a post full of useful advice gleaned from the Writers Festival two weeks ago. But neither of those things have come about.

Why?

station clock

Time – or not having of nearly enough of it. Towards the end of the summer I was excited about the boys going back to school because I’ve always had more time to write during term time. I somehow forgot though, that this was almost entirely during my toddler’s nap time and that he’d dropped his nap just before the holidays began. So, since early September the house may have been quieter during the day but I’ve still had a small person to entertain! My golden two hours of writing time has gone.

So my plan to submit my picture books to agents has yet to materialise, I’m still not quite ready to send my limericks to beta readers, I’ve not been able to research self-publishing much and the blog has been mostly tumbleweed.

Still, as is always the case with writers, my brain has been whirring and I’ve had a few exciting ideas that could move things forward a bit faster with my limerick book. Only a teeny bit faster, but it still counts, right?

I’ve also been looking at picture books on my kindle just to see what’s out there. I’d previously written off the idea of any kindle sales at all in the kids book market but now I’m not so sure it’s completely impossible. It wouldn’t work as the only place to sell my limericks (by any stretch of the imagination), but as a way of bringing exposure to the actual, physical book I think there’s a chance it could help. I’m keen to research more.

I’ve also – kind of on the back of a blog post in which I shared my limerick and story out-takes – been wondering about putting together a collection of limericks for grownups too. That way I can write about drugs and scrotums to my hearts content!

All these lines of thought may make you realise I’m also feeling more positive again about the idea of self-publishing. I was feeling a little overwhelmed after the Writing Festival but now I figure I’ve got nothing at all to lose from submitting to Matador (who’ve already said they’d be happy to work with me) and getting quotes for various services they can offer. Getting a ball-park figure from an illustrator would certainly be useful, as would finding out more about all the potential costs involved in producing and distributing a book.

So I’m going to do that. And I’m also going to submit my first picture book to agents and continue with my research in all areas. I can’t promise I’ll have done it by next week but it will get done soon. I’ll get there.

Just as long as I can find the time. ;)

Writing Bubble

writing, blogging and holding back – #WhatImWriting

Thanks for all your fab #WhatImWriting posts last week – we had the most linkers we’ve ever had! Chrissie is hosting this week so if you’d like to link up please head over to Muddled Manuscript.

In terms of my creative writing, this blog has been invaluable to me over the last year-and-a-bit. When I began it I had very little confidence in my own writing ability. Although I’d been writing on and off for years (and had been dedicating more time to writing while on maternity leave for the previous year) basically my work amounted to a few scribblings and a big, fat demon of self-doubt.cropped-friendly-pencils4.jpg

Starting the blog was a kind of leap of faith. I had a vague notion of ‘charting my writing journey’ and ‘finding a community’ but I didn’t really know how it was going to pan out. Turns out it was a great leap to take as over the past sixteen months I’ve found a wonderful writing community and have certainly used the blog as somewhere to write about my writing, set myself challenges, and build my confidence.

I’ve also published a lot of my own work here. I’ve just had a quick check and last year I posted fifteen short stories/pieces of flash fiction), twenty-five poems and over thirty limericks. With the occasional exception they were all written within days (or hours) of hitting ‘publish’ so that’s over seventy original creative pieces in less than a year. That’s a fair bit of my work that’s ‘out there’.

I don’t think it’s what I imagined doing when I set out. I think I intended to write about what I was writing rather than actually show people. I certainly remember the fear I felt when I hit the ‘publish’ button on my first poem. I was cringing as I waited to see if anyone would even comment and I wondered what on earth they might say. But the feedback was good (more because people were kind than because of the poem’s quality I suspect) so I published more. And the more I published the more confident I felt. I realised it didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect and that the world wouldn’t end if people read what I’d written.

And now a year later I’m not scared to publish my work here. I also have the confidence to submit work and accept rejection. But I’ve also realised that I can’t keep putting so much work on my blog. I wanted to submit to a competition last week. I had a poem and a short story in mind that, with a bit of extra work, I would have been happy to send off. Only I couldn’t because I’d posted them here and that counts as ‘pre-published’ work which this particular press (and pretty much all others) won’t accept. Fair enough. But frustrating. And yes, I could have written something else but inspiration wasn’t flowing and I was concentrating on writing other things anyway. It felt like a missed opportunity.

So I’ve made a decision to publish less of my work on my blog. I’ll still be posting limericks and I suspect the odd story or poem but not at the rate I was before. I need to start holding work back. I want to start writing for competitions and in response to submission requests. Yes, it will mean more rejection but I feel more resilient now. I’m more up for the challenge. And this blog will still be here for me to cry and rant onto when the rejections get too much.

Oh and I’d love to know about other writers’ creative output and blogging- how much work do you publish on your blog? Do you hold a lot back for other submissions? Any advice?

Muddled Manuscript

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
mumturnedmom

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!

Muddled Manuscript

excitement!

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I wasn’t planning on writing a post today but then I got some good news and I wanted to share it! I got home from a day out with the kids to find an envelope sitting on my door mat… and in the envelope was a letter saying some of my limericks have been accepted for an anthology!

The anthology is called ‘Limerick Nation‘ and will be published by Iron Press in September. It’s an anthology of ‘place name’ limericks meaning they will all have a first line that ends with a UK county or city/ town/village. Poets were invited to submit limericks about their own current place of residence (we had to enter by post – no cheating allowed!) With that proviso, they could be on any subject we liked and be as silly as we fancied. And you know me; I love a silly limerick.

Finding a rhyme for Northumberland was quite a challenge so I’m dead chuffed to say that four of my limericks are going to be included! This may not sound like hugely exciting news but as it is my very first acceptance letter I felt I had to blog about it and I hope you’ll forgive me for jumping up and down a bit!

Yay!!!!!!

racing away from me

Over at Beautiful Misbehaviour, Stephanie has taken the (sensible) decision to stop the Writing Warriors Friday linky for health reasons. I’ve found writing weekly blog posts specifically about where I am with my creative writing to be really useful though, so I’m going to continue. It helps to keep me focused.

There’s so much going on in life at the moment that I feel like everything is racing away from me. I keep getting to the end of the week and finding that my ‘to do’ list (I love a list!) is longer rather than shorter. This week my ‘writing time’ has been in snatched fragments. I feel like I’ve done nothing at all. But one of the nice things about having a blog on a week like this is that I can look at it and say ‘Oh! I did write something then!’ Ok, only a limerick for my weekly #limerick challenge and a piece of flash fiction yesterday, but it’s better than nothing.

Last week I was thinking about submissions – should I submit more (any!) of my poetry or short stories? I decided that this week I’d look more into possible places I could send my work to. I did this. I got overwhelmed. There are so many options! And I was too busy to look into anything properly so I’m going to have to carry that task over to next week. In fact, I think it’s going to be an ongoing project.

I’ve decided I should put my work out there more. I may feel less keen when I’ve had more rejections but hey, that’s the life of a writer isn’t it?! Besides which, as a fair few people said to me last week: ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it.’ So watch this space.

sprint finish

jasper-tree.jpg

It’s been a funny old week, full of ups and downs. I’m feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. My youngest son turned one at the weekend and we had a lovely family party but I’ve been feeling so emotional at the idea of my (last) baby growing up! And, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, his sleep has been terrible this week so I’ve been surviving largely on tea and adrenalin. If I remember to drink the tea.

So, from a creative-writing standpoint, the majority of this week (since my #writingwarriors post last Friday) has been a damp squib. I managed my weekly #limerick challenge over the weekend but nothing more. Then in the early hours of Wednesday morning I wrote a poem inspired by my desperation over the sleep situation and then on Wednesday night – joy of joys – the baby slept through the night!

So yesterday morning, in a sudden rush of energy I was able to turn my desperate night-time poem into something half-way-decent and finish off and submit some limericks to IRON press’ Limerick Nation anthology. So I went from feeling really exhausted and quite miserable to suddenly feeling like I’d achieved something right at the last minute. A ‘sprint finish’ to my writing week!

And that’s given me some new questions to consider this week (for those who haven’t read any of my #writingwarriors post before – hello, my name is Maddy and I’m a question-aholic!)

I got a real feeling of achievement from making the deadline for the IRON press anthology. Of course I have no idea if any of my limericks will be accepted but at least I tried! And it’s made me think about the idea of submissions in general.

Since deciding I’d explore this whole creative-writing malarky I’ve made the sum total of three submissions. One short story, one poem and then the limerick thing. I’ve had two rejections and one answer pending. I’ve hardly been going great guns.

That said, I’m also (incredibly slowly) trying to write a book which I can’t attempt to publish ’till it’s finished and I’ve never had the specific aim of sending lots of work off but, even so, I’ve been watching Stephanie’s ‘year of submissions’ progress with admiration and a certain amount of envy. I’m wondering if I should submit more of my work. So here are some questions and I’d love to hear your thoughts:

  • Do you make a lot of/many/any submissions?
  • Do you find it helpful to do so? (eg does having deadlines help you finish more work rather than leave it ‘unpolished’ on your hard-drive?)
  • Do you tailor your work around what different press’s/magazines etc are specifically asking for? Or just write what you want and then look for somewhere that might accept that sort of thing?
  • Where do you find out about things like competitions you could enter? Any recommendations?
  • Do you make submissions for love or money or recognition? or all/some/something else?
  • Is it worth it, given rejection can be hard to take?

I’m going to be thinking about these things this week. I think I’ll try to put some time into finding some competitions I can enter…

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