‘Joy is the serious business of heaven.’
C S Lewis
Happy New Year!
I wish you a peaceful and inspirational New Year.
Today, in the New Year tradition of fresh beginnings, I remind myself and any who visit here that I created this blog first and foremost as a writer!
Herebelow is a little taste of something I am working on –
‘Saphie!’ she called. But the wind was rising. It stole her voice, and pulled at her thin cotton scarf. Fingers of ice creeping down her neck and making her shiver.
‘Saphie!’ The leaves were circling up into the shadowed branches overhead. Even as she stood there, a crack above was followed by a soft thud just behind her. Maddie ran round to the other side of the tree, but her stubborn child had climbed so high it was impossible to see her in the falling light. Only the grubby ropes trailing onto the ground gave witness to the tree squatter above.
The trouble is, she thought, this time it’s different. This time she is not going to win.
This is Billy. Actually he was Millie Marmalade until the vet informed us Billie may be better!
I have finally managed to create myself a writing space, and Billie can no longer sit on my hands as I type.
Unless I let him in. He has a very loud miaow – his mother was half Bengal, apparently :)
But today Billie is the other side of the door, and I am trying to absorb myself in my new novel, in my new writing space, in my new garden, in my new snatch of time since beginning my new work.
So today I think of all of you who are struggling to make the space for your writing, and I leave us with an inspirational quote:
‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.’ – William Churchill
Happy New Year!
And welcome if you have discovered my blog for the first time. It is a very casual mix as described in the heading, of all things I love: Life, wildlife, and booklife!
I am a children/ young adults author, and am currently working on a non-fantasy fiction with an ecological theme and plenty of fireworks! For news of my latest novel release please keep an eye out here, or on my Facebook Page.
There are tabs for reviews, novel blurbs and all you may desire from my home page. I hope you enjoy browsing. As to this blog, well, once a month I sit down and post a little something here. There is so much noise online, I think this is enough for me, and hopefully for my followers. Please take a look at those I follow – there are some wonderful creative and spiritual inspirations amongst them.
Once a week I post a quotation – each with its own different emphasis.
I hope they raise a Friday smile, or dream, to cheer your week-end. Today is Friday so I am posting my monthly blog and quote on the same day – let’s see what happens! Please feel free to comment on the quotes…
See you in February, I’m off to the Treetops!
There is a French quote : ‘Plus ca change (plus c’est la meme chose)’
The best translation of its meaning I found is that it is ‘used to express resigned acknowledgement of the fundamental immutability of human nature and institutions.’
So I will give my Friday quote a little direction henceforth – my aim is to show this quote in the literature that I love. From children’s literature, to plays, poetry, and philosophy. To show not only it working within the words, but in the writing community.
What was once said by Aristotle can probably be found in a version of its time in the latest kindle bestseller.
‘Plus ca change’
Writing for children – challenges and opportunities
Firstly, many thanks, Isabel, for inviting me your blog. I’m honoured to be the your first ‘guest’.
You gave me a free rein in terms of what to write about – and I thought it would be useful as a fellow children’s author to talk about both the opportunities and challenges we face reaching our readers in this new age of digital publishing.
As with so many authors I was over the moon when self-publishing came along. My first children’s book, a time travel adventure, The Secret Lake had been turned down by several publishers for being too ‘traditional’ and the ‘wrong length’ (too short) – yet I knew in my heart of hearts that if only children were able to judge it for themselves they would prove me right – and they did! Since its publication in late 2011 teachers, reading charities and librarians have praised it for its manageable length and for the story’s strong appeal to both girls and boys. I’ve now sold well over 6,000 copies (over half in print and the rest mostly on Kindle). It continues to sell consistently on Amazon and in local bookshops and is always my ‘best seller’ at signings and school visits. As I had suspected all along, our children still love a traditional adventure story and when I wrote it I felt that perhaps there weren’t enough of these around for 8-11 year-olds.
However, while self-publishing allowed me to clear my first major hurdle – by allowing me to make my story available for my target audience – I quickly realised I had a new challenge. Unlike authors writing for YA and adults, I couldn’t take advantage of the other key development in the digital age and market to my readers through social media. Age 13 is the lower limit for Facebook and Twitter – and for good reasons (though I’m pretty sure this rule is regularly flouted!). But even if my target audience of age 8-11 were reachable this way, they don’t hold the purse strings, so impulse purchases are generally out of the question! I did for a period try the alternative of targeting blogs and sites frequented by ‘parents’ but quickly ran out of steam as my comments and posts felt too close to a self-promotion feed, and this didn’t sit comfortably with me. Networking with children’s book bloggers has felt a more natural option and I do this sporadically – and I’ve had lovely reviews for my books from several of these. How many book sales this has led to it’s hard to say so I tend to view these as PR opportunities rather than getting hung up on whether I see a change in my print or Kindle sales.
While lack of access to my target audience frustrated me in my early days everything changed when I started doing book signings in local Waterstones and – most importantly – going into schools. It was then that I realised it was a case of swings and roundabouts. A key advantage that children’s authors have over writers of adult fiction is that we can reach our readers in huge numbers face to face – and in most cases make healthy sales at the same time. Naturally you need a good story to start with (which, of course, must be professionally edited and presented) and ideally you need an appealing website to refer bookshops and schools to at the outset. Beyond that it still takes a lot of organisation, self-belief and persistence to set up successful visits or bookshop signings – but where there is a will there is a way, and the rewards in seeing children’s reactions to your readings and answering their questions about your story and being a writer are priceless. The sales at the end of the day are simply the icing on the cake! I happen to write across a range of age groups so have on many occasions spent a whole day in a school and presented my books across all of their intakes – exhausting but hugely rewarding!
There isn’t space here to go into the many tips I have for approaching bookshops and schools but if you head over to my marketing tips page at selfpublishingadventures.com you’ll find lots of information.
To read more about my school visits also see my author website at kareninglisauthor.com
Thunderclouds gather, and the fields glare back.
Sun has curled the leaves of the abandoned raspberry canes, and three broody hens stick their noses out to sniff the approaching storm,
before returning to their empty nest.
In the middle of a small country, all is verdant, hushed, still.
Then a passing lorry roars at the crows in the treetop, and they clatter their wings.
And on the wind comes a song of ancient time –
It travels across the land, and calls to me as I sink,
It speaks of wind, and wave, and open sky,
Blue-glass walls spitting their salty spray –
I inhale deeply,
Soon, I think. Soon I shall be with you.
August, to me, has always been the month to head for the sea! Oceans – the sequel to Toxics– arrives as the summer fades. I will post the date it is published for digital or print purchase – here and on my FB page: www.facebook.com/IsabelBurtNovels
Meanwhile, here’s a lovely description of Oceans, in an early review to help you decide…
“Following on from ‘Toxics’, Isabel Burt offers in ‘Oceans’ another rich and absorbing world that quickly draws you in – great for young fantasy lovers!
In ‘Oceans’ we see 18-year-old Felicity return to the Old World after three years back with her family and friends in the modern world. During that time she has yearned to find her way back to her love, Reuben, from whom she was separated underwater at the end of Toxics.
Given the modern setting and introduction to Felicity’s best friend, Al, in the early chapters I was a little unsure as to whether I would be convinced by the Old World again – but Isabel Burt doesn’t disappoint. Once Felicity finds her way back, we are quickly drawn back into a new part of her fantastical and colourful world whose rich character cast is this time dominated by ocean dwelling creatures incuding Thessalons (giant turtles), The Draar-sil (an army of protective sea lions) and the Humb (ill-meaning giant squids) — as well as the dying-out race of the ‘Meshi’ ocean people whose existence had been hidden from Reuben’s Old World.
Makia, the withering and scheming Meshi medicine woman, is portrayed brilliantly as she scuttles and schemes from her sunken sea cave where she holds not only Reuben, but also a lost Meshi princess captive – playing with potions and allowing for some clever tension at the start of the book between Reuben and Felicity. Makia has a pivotal role as the plot develops and is a joy to encounter on the page (if not for real!).
An ever-present threat comes in the form of the lurking GRAI whose menacing soliloquies from the ocean deep open many of the early chapters, foreshadowing the inevitable climax of the book in which darkness descends (literally) on the Old World. Gradually it becomes clear that Reuben, Felicity and their immediate team have been thrown together to try to understand and save the Old World from this dark force.
Whether they succeed is for you to find out!” Karen Inglis, author of The Secret Lake