A March Blog

9781781321867-Cover.inddoceans front only jpgIt seems such a long time since I spoke of these two, my first fantasy duo. It seems such a long time since I wrote them! But recently I had to send off some extracts, and I thought I’d dust off their pretty covers again (the work of two talented folk, Derek and Rosie), to talk of life.

Now, wildlife conservation and sustainability have always been very important to me, as you will know if you follow my blog, and I try to write with these in mind:

“…Toxics, set in a world in which the environmental balance has been altered by the birth of a new species…This fantasy world will encourage older children (10+) to think more carefully about the environmental issues of their own planet.”

In March we have the beginning of spring.  A time of regeneration, and of hope. The world feels particularly precarious just now, doesn’t it? And yet there are always messages of positivity, of hope and peace. Mother Teresa once said,

‘We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.’

A pair of fantasy children’s novels hoping for balance, a new novel on its way dreaming of conservation…drip, drip…how can a few words help when I read the headlines? I don’t know…maybe something I say will inspire a budding conservationist…a brilliant ecologist…a wise peacemaker…who knows? …drip, drop.

I wish you hope, peace and joy this spring, and the desire to do whatever you can, in your own small or large way.

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A blog for November

billy

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

 

Blog of September – An interview with Karen Inglis

Time for work
It is September, and a new year for schoolchildren beckons. With fresh beginnings in mind, I decided it would be good to let someone else speak this month!
So, for my very first guest, I would like to introduce Karen Inglis, a very enterprising and successful children’s author. I have come to know Karen through my writing, as we both write for children and young adults.
I asked her to talk about whatever she liked – explaining this blog follows my interests of conservation, philosophy, photography, spirituality, and literature – and not just my life as a writer!
This is her reply:
‘First I thought I could potentially do something about reading current and past children’s books as a way to keep me inspired and informed and to gain nuggets of learning about what does and doesn’t work— for example I read Little Women while on holiday and, before that ‘My Brother Is a Superhero’ which has recently been published by Nosy Crow. But in the end I have gone for something to do with the challenges and opportunities for children’s writers in the digital age — I hope this is okay?’
Absolutely! But  enough of the introduction, let’s meet her, and hear her thoughts, without further delay…
Karen Inglis_headshot_high res

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  

The Secret Lake 72dpi cover

Karen Inglis lives in London, and since 2011 she has published four children’s books, including The Secret Lake, a time travel mystery for ages 8-11; Eeek! The Runaway Alien and Henry Haynes and the Great Escape — both graphic novels for ages 7-10 and 6-8, and Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep a rhyming picture book for ages 3-5. She has also produced an interactive children’s book app and an enhanced ebook of Ferdinand Fox.

BLOG OF AUGUST

Summer crop

AUGUST

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…

oceans front only jpg

“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

oceans front only jpg Available to order from all good bookshops, or online, very, very soon!

BLOG OF JULY

Safety!

When I was tagging this blog, I realised the tags represent some of the themes in TOXICS, and its sequel, OCEANS.

Adventure – Alternative worlds – Life – Lovers of mystical worlds – Nature – Fantasy for children – Ecofiction – Felicity and Reuben – Conservation –

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I joined the PDSA at a very young age – illicitly using my pocket money – and my bemused mother would pass me my membership envelopes from the small animal care organisation, trying to understand her strange child!  IMG_0296

I have continued, by adopting animals, and educating my children. We have supported a variety of wildlife. Adopted through three conservation establishments, and adored by my children. Although my human children have all but left the nest, their sister, Sonje, is still protected, and learning to survive in the wild, a step at a time.

Wildlife conservation, and therefore the protection of their habitat, and then by definition our ecosystems, is, I accept, an incredibly difficult balance, but the survival of humans must share itself with the survival of animals, and our global habitat! How can we not care to support that aim, in whatever way we can?

Only a very stupid creature would destroy its very life-source, wouldn’t it?

Peter Rabbit

In Toxics and Oceans, the Old World is threatened by ignorance.

I have a magnet on my fridge that says to me ‘ Relax – all the worries of the world are not yours to bear.’ No, we can’t solve the world, only something greater than us could do that. But one man or woman with a dream can change many things. For us, and for our wildlife.

If you want to know more about the wonderful people who strive for a better world for our friends, please click on the links below, and warm your heart. Maybe you will be moved to help, in a way that you feel is right for you.

Have a lovely July.

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Durrell Wildlife Trust

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Ocean ConservationFootprints in the sand

More Ocean Conservation

BLOG OF JUNE!

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 PLACES YOU CAN FIND ME:

Here!

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Friends, I have discovered Instagram! For me, it’s the easiest, funniest of them all :)

So now I have the blog, the tweet, the snap and the chat of FB. A tumble is being improved, but I have resisted the pin, so far!

And as you all know, this is only a few mainstream channels!

So as I am a self-confessed reluctant blogger – having discovered I prefer to read of other people’s lives, books, and advice – I am streamlining this blog for a bit. I have done this in the past, but this time, I shall stay with a regular monthly post – a sort of round-up of news and views – others and my own!

I will still post the Friday quote – I don’t think I could make it through the week-end without some Friday Food for thought!

Find me on the above links tweeting, and snapping, reviewing and chatting.

Find my reviews on Goodreads, or on Amazon, and I do pop up on a real blogger’s site now and then :)

But most of all, I am writing. Writing. Writing. Writing :)))

It’s true I escape, once in a while, and can be seen squinting at the occasional litfest or author event, heading towards the tea, cake, and later, wine!

Oceans is set for release around the end of August 2015 – and I will, of course, post news on all the above channels – I may even produce that rarely-sighted object – my newsletter!

I will be back on the first of July, and meanwhile don’t forget to pop in for that Friday feel-good feeling – helped by my author on a Friday spot!

Byeeee :)

week-ends = family!