Sunday, 8 April 2012

The adventure begins

How it all began,

Well, to say I am a sci fi nerd is probably a little bit of an understatement.  My husband and I actually have a life size cardboard cut out of a Tardis and the David Tennant Doctor Who in our lounge room.  So yes we are just a little bit sci fi mad, but don't get me wrong, I am not going to don a skin tight suit and make V symbols with my hand, but I do love a good sci fi story.

Its hardly surprising, growing up my family loved sci fi too.  My Dad read a wide range of stuff but sci fi always dominated and I remember sitting down to the all familiar da da da, da da da, intro of Doctor Who as a kid.  My sisters love it too and yes, girls can love sci fi too, its not just for the boy's. 

I don't know when I decided I wanted to write kids books one day but that one day finally came about 2 years ago.  I was a little antsy with the world I guess, a bit tired of the same old same old, and my husband Danny suggested, why don't you write your kids book.  Well because I don't know how to was my reply.  Well why don't you find out, was probably his reply, I can't really remember, so I of course typed it in to my little friend google, a fountain of all knowledge and I came upon a few books that could help me.

So I bought writing Children's books for Dummies, which was really quite good. I read stuff about Stephanie Myer writing her Twilight series after having a dream and by chance someone took a chance on her.  I started to think, if she can do it, why can't I.  Don't get me wrong, I am not going to compare myself to anyone, but she started somewhere, maybe I could too.

So, what kind of story would I like to write.  In high school, one of my many nicknames was Pixie because of my pointy ears and Elf like features. I decided, why not write an Elf story and whilst sitting on toilet of all places, I came up with a name for my main character and the world she would live in.  I started having ideas at all hours of the night and I learnt to put a notepad beside my bed, becaue I would often wake up with another idea fresh in my mind, only to have it vanish a few moments later.

Then chatting to Danny one night, he came up with the name of the planet where my evil character would originate.  The next thing I knew, Danny had bought me a little red lap top which I affectionately called Ruby, ( we like to name things, my car is called Monty) and my little advenure had begun.

Quite a few months later, I gave my first draft to my family and my they gave me some great comments on what they liked and some other suggestions, as well as some pointers on my incredibly bad spelling, grammar and general sentence structure. Its always best coming from family, haha, but it helped alot and my next edit was a great deal better, well so my sisters said anyway. 

I kept developing my story and after about 6 months I decided I wanted to get an opinion on it. I sent it to the UK writers workshop for a manuscript assessment.  It was six long weeks before I heard back from Val ( a well known children's book author who they assigned to read my manuscript)  reviewed it and gave me some very good but sobering feedback.  I guess I thought this was going to be a sinch. Ha Ha, doesnt everyone think that when they have what they think is a great idea.

So I went back to the beginning and I started to hone my writing and my characters, and about another 6 months later, I sent it back to Val for another assessment.  This time it was a great deal more encouraging, but I still had a alot of errors in the grammar, which I found incredibly confusing as so many books have differing styles of grammar.   I kept editing and eventually I started to understand the format that is required, but it still wasnt at the point where it would be fit for a submission to a publisher, but I kept on it.

By this time I was expecting the divine miss Giselle, so in my maternity leave before I had the baby, I decided I was gonna finish my story.  I happened to mention this to my obstetrician, who just happened to have a sister who worked in children's book publishing, so I asked her who she was. To my surprise, I actually knew who her sister was as I had seen her name as the editor in cheif on the publisher's website, and I got an idea.  I decided to email her, what is there to lose, a no thanks we don't read anything from rank amateurs, haha.

So this is what I wrote:

Hi ____ I am an obstetrics patient of your sisters.  You can imagine my surprise when leaving her office a few weeks ago, I remarked that I have finished work now so I can continue writing my children's book, that she actually returned with some small talk mentioning you were in publishing. 

My husband and I often joke that your sister is certainly not one for small talk , so I decided to seize my opportunity and ask her where you worked.  

So here is my pitch, does the world need another vampire, wizard or fairly princess story, I don't think so, but it could use a science fiction Elf story geared towards girls aged 9-12.

So in the words of the unfortunately famous for white full body leather jumpsuits, take a chance on me, or at least get one of your minions to. Manuscript, synopsis and bio attached.

To my utter surprise, she answered me, apparently I had written a great unsolicited email, and she was happy to pass my story onto one of her editors. 

Here is an excerpt from her editor’s reply:

There’s a lot to like about your story – it’s engaging from the word go and the world you’ve created is unique and intriguing. I really like the characters and settings, and the combination of high fantasy elements and modern/futuristic technology.

She gave me the usual thanks but no thanks spiel, but she took the time to give me some great pointers on how I could hone my writing skills even further and improve the readability of my story.

Wowsers.!!!  Let’s face it I didn’t really expect them to roll out the red carpet and offer me a publishing deal, but in essence, a really well known children’s book publisher, read my story, and didn’t HATE it.  That in itself is wildly encouraging.  I can’t give up now.

So I did several more edits, one reading out my entire book aloud, (a great tip I was given from Val about editing) then I decided it was time to give it to someone in my actual audience.  My sister passed  it on to a 10 year old girl in her church.  I was pretty worried, I mean, it doesn’t matter what the adults think, it’s the kids that read it.

Guess what?  She loved it.  She really liked the characters and the moral theme that I have running through it. I forgot to mention, although I am a Christian, I didn’t strictly write a Christian book, I wrote a book with great morals in a science fiction genre for children, but the essence is there and it will hopefully pass on the values that I hold to my readers.

Anyway, she wanted to read the next book, which I am subsequently writing at the moment, but I am getting ahead of myself, a kid liked it.  Awesome, admittedly its only one child, but I have had a few friends who have read it also since, including my aunty who doesn’t really read science fiction but in her words,  I kept her attention right to the end.  It did make her quite hungry however, as you will find out when you read my story that I do mention quite a lot of delicious treats that my Elves enjoy, mostly because I enjoy them too.

So, where too from here?  I decided self publishing is the new black, ha ha and after a great deal of looking around, I found a company called Palmer Higgs, that has a package deal that I really liked the sound of, so voila, the manuscript is currently in the editing phase and then it will be converted to an e-pub file, which will be available on Amazon eventually.

I also have a friend who is an awesome animator, and I have given him the task of drawing my story cover, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

It’s starting to get exciting now. Sooner rather than later, its gonna be ready to be published and I can say that everyone in my family will probably breathe a sigh of relief as I have been banging on about for close to 2 years now, haha.

Stay tuned for the next instalment and eventually I will grow up and write a kids book,  haha, or maybe even more than one. 


1 comment:

  1. In the words of the wisest woman I know 'You can do anything you put your mind to'. Can't wait to download the finished product, so proud of you my brilliant inspirational Julesy. CLM x