Archive for the ‘traditional publishing’ Category

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organizers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG, and the hashtag is #IWSG.

January 5 question – What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?
I guess I regret turning down two offers from publishers. When I was first starting out and was submitting my children’s manuscripts to editors in New Zealand regularly, there were two yes replies. However, I turned them both down. One said they would publish my picture book, Free Wally, but they wanted to change all the characters’ names. What can I say? I was young and green. My creative soul felt they were going to tamper with my “artistic integrity” by changing the details. Therefore, I said no thank you and imagined I would easily find another acceptance for the story. Yet, I never did. It was the one and only offer I received for that book.
In the 90s a different publisher said they would release my middle-grade fantasy, The Scrifs and Stirrits, but they would only pay me a 5% royalty fee. In those days the going rate for royalties was 10%, and I was miffed. Why were they offering me less? I turned down the offer, thinking I wanted to be paid the same as everyone else. But I never found another publisher for that story so never got the chance.

Looking back at those decisions now, it’s easy to laugh at the folly of youth. What did it matter if they changed the names or paid me less royalty rate? I would still have had two books released by traditional publishing houses behind my name to help me stake a claim to this writer’s life. Instead, I hang in the wind of self-publishing and take the financial/emotional/mental hit of being Indie for every book. As a wide-eyed beginner, I did not know that getting any acceptance at all was fantastic. It took many more years of submitting my work to realize that acceptances are few and far between. And these days there are even fewer publishers accepting unsolicited work.
When I released my trilogy in 2020, I did a bit of research to see how many traditional publishers there were left in New Zealand. If I had wanted to submit my stories for consideration, there was only a handful of children’s publishers still accepting unsolicited manuscripts and after reading the t’s and c’s, my stories would only have been suitable for two of them. Two options? Pitiful. The current situation is very different from what it was when I was young and sending my stories to editors all over the country. I had no idea then how good I had it. But hey, hindsight is 20/20.

Therefore, if I could go back and change one thing about the past, maybe it would be rejecting the publishers’ offers. Or maybe it wouldn’t. Because I did overcome that obstacle. Early on, I made that mistake. Yet, I learned a lot through the years of “failing” that followed. They say if you change one thing about the past it alters the course of history. Would I want to mess around with the perfect plan for my life? Probably not. Maybe I was supposed to go it alone. Becoming an Indie is diabolically hard but it does have its rewards. I made all my own choices about covers, style, and everything for The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, which was satisfying. I’m proud of my trilogy. For the cover art, I collaborated with my nephew, Si, who is a consummate artist. We had such fun in the creative process, brainstorming and tooling around with options. I didn’t have to compromise his vision or question my choices. We had no interference which is a blessing only bestowed upon the self-published.

Looking back now, I have the satisfaction of knowing I did it my way, and there’s something pure in that. I cherish the books I’ve put out into the world so far. Would I have been able to say that if I was under the wing of a publisher? Or would the end result be something mutant and divorced from the original vision? With my name on the cover. No. The more I think about it, the more glad I am that I turned down those offers back in the day. I set myself on course for putting out books that authentically belong to me, and my creative intelligence is my service to the world. It will live on long after I’m gone. No, I’m convinced now I did the right thing when I was young.
So in a roundabout way, I have come back to the first question. What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
What about you, what do you regret most about your writing?

Keep Writing!
Yvette Carol
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Every story I create creates me. I write to create myself. ~ Octavia E. Butler


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Subscribe to my newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to yvettecarol@hotmail.com

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organizers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG, and the hashtag is #IWSG.

September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?
Without question, success is holding the book in my hand. I guess that is because I wrote stories for half my life before I published a book. Although I started writing fiction at age 17 and had a story and an article published in other people’s books, I didn’t produce a book until I was 50. I think the moment I laid eyes on that first novel is engraved forever in my memory. I was so excited, taking numerous photos and bombarding social media. It was unbelievable, overwhelming and the satisfaction was complete.

To me, it felt like the ultimate vindication and success because the road to publication had not been a straight one. An idealist, I had expected the publishing side of being a writer would be as much fun as doing the writing. Find an agent, grab a great deal with a publishing house, and make lots of money. Easy. In the 80’s I found myself an agent, and I carried on writing children’s stories, thinking the agent would take care of finding homes for my books. Four years later, he still had not sold a single manuscript. I fired the agent and started sending the manuscripts out myself. After many nibbles, I had one story, a re-telling of the folk tale, The Ice Queen, accepted by a traditional publishing house. I waited a year, then they returned the manuscript, saying they had been unable to fit me into their schedule. No way.
Another year I had one of my picture book manuscripts, Free Wally, accepted by a publisher in Wellington. But they wanted to change the names of all the characters. I couldn’t handle that! Give me money, do all the work of publishing, fine, but change the details of my creative progeny? No deal.

I carried on writing (and illustrating) and sending out stories, finally gaining another acceptance for a picture book, The Unsightly Wet Nightie. Whoopee! I thought. Then I read the fine print. They were only offering me a 5% royalty fee, which at the time for authors was usually 10%. I said, No dice.
A year later, I entered my story, The Or’in of Tane into an international writing competition. The prize was the publication of the book. I waited, revisiting the website day and night, waiting for news of who had made the shortlist. The publishers released a statement, saying if you had not heard back from them, you had made the shortlist. Happy dance! I had not heard back and was euphoric. A month later, the shortlist then the winner and runner-up were announced. My name did not appear. When I followed up on my story, they told me that due to the time difference between here and there, my competition entry had arrived a day later than their deadline, and they had disqualified me.

Meltdown. Tears for days. Gloom and doom.
Was I beaten?
Well, initially, yes.
Then I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and decided to take my fate into my own hands. For the first time, I seriously considered going Indie. I began to venture online and learn about self-publishing. And the rest, as they say, is history. I did the spadework and self-published my trilogy, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, in 2020. Talk about a moment of triumph. The books were well received, gaining a 9.8 out of 10 ratings by one popular book reviewer.

Every time I see those books on the shelf, I get a thrill.

Holding my book in my hand, that spells success to me. Because I know what it took to get here and all the years of solitary blood, sweat, and tears that went into this. Self-publishing is hard work. However, that’s the buzz, isn’t it? Hard work makes you feel good.
It has been fulfilling to produce something my kids and grandkids can hold in their hands. Now, I leave physical books sitting in libraries and on bookshelves and lodged within the hallowed halls of the National Library of New Zealand. To create is the best, and then to share that creation is ‘reason I am here’ material.
When you take things into your own hands with your career, the world is your oyster! How do you define success as a writer?

Keep Writing!
Yvette Carol
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Regardless of your genre, your task is to get your book in front of readers. ~ Jaq D Hawkins


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I’ve finished reading my twelfth novel for 2021, The Diamond Brothers in Two of Diamonds, by Anthony Horowitz. He wrote the book for World Book Day 2013. World Book Day and World Book Night are creative initiatives designed by all those in the literary industry on both sides of the fence in the UK and Ireland. They run the events annually in both countries to encourage people of all ages to read. Now that’s an idea I can get behind.

The Diamond Brothers are among Anthony Horowitz’s least known characters. The elder Diamond, Tim, tagged as ‘the world’s worst detective,’ makes for an intriguing start. Then I love the twist that it is the kid brother, Nick, who is the protagonist and who is solving all the mysteries. Tim bumbles from one error of judgment to another and has his neck saved repeatedly by his underestimated little brother. The entire premise is kid-centred and a hoot.

Two of Diamonds gives us two stories,The French Confection (2002), and I Know What You Did Last Wednesday (2002) packaged together, with a special cover that “comes to life” when you download the app and hold your phone over it. 

Though I had heard of his name, this was my first time reading an Anthony Horowitz. After reading the line, ‘I like horror stories–but not when they happen to me.’ I knew to expect these stories would be firmly tongue-in-cheek. Here is an author going for the laughs and the fun quotient. ‘It’s not fair. I do my homework. I clean my teeth twice a day. Why does everyone want to kill me?’

The Nick Diamond character is relatable and lovable. How many of us have had the experience of being the beleaguered sibling in the family? Here, poor Nick has to look out for his elder brother, Tim, portrayed as thick as a plank. The smarter younger brother Nick watches over the hapless Tim in an easy-going way that endears Nick to us. He is literally “saving the cat” throughout every case. But that’s what the key is to our interest in the characters and the series, is that the elder boy is an oaf while his thirteen-year-old brother saves his bacon on the regular. Kids win. Score! Meanwhile, the eldest is none the wiser and still thinks he know best. Hilarious. It’s a premise to have every child reader groaning with recognition–a deft move by Horowitz.

The enjoyable part is that in Nick’s superior intelligence he can have a little laugh at the elder brother’s expense, which is enough to make any kid titter. ‘Tim said little on the journey. To cheer him up, I’d bought him a Beano comic and perhaps he was having trouble with the long words.’ It makes the child reader feel they are in on the joke, which is a pleasant feeling. The sense of irreverence coming through in the wit and humour is cool, too. ‘The boat was old and smelly. So was the captain.’

Yet Horowitz does not shy away from the tough stuff. The trail of bodies surprised me. It gives his stories an unexpected element. It keeps the reader on their toes. Anthony Horowitz, OBE, is an English author who has been writing fiction all his life. He is best known for his Alex Rider books. He is also the writer and creator of award-winning detective series, Foyle’s War, and more recently event drama Collision. In 2011, he gained a significant feather in his cap, being the first author ever endorsed by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel, titled The House of Silk.

As for Two of Diamonds, where did Horowitz get it right? In the unique premise, the humour, the “in joke” of the siblings, the tone, the mystery aspect. Everyone, young and old, gets sucked in by a mystery. I think the entire thing works and made me an instant fan. Where did Horowitz go wrong? Great premise, intriguing characters but the books are too short, about 80 pages per story, which left me wanting more. Great story, but not enough meat on the bones! Some critics also complained that the mysteries were too easy to figure out. I’m guessing they were adults and as this book is for middle-grade readers, I think it is fine. To be left wanting more is a good sign, right?

My rating: Two and three quarter stars.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol

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“I don’t think anything takes the place of reading.” ~ Beverly Cleary

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I’ve finished reading my eleventh novel for 2021, Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp, by Odo Hirsch. Whenever I pass a thrift store or a charity shop, I’m compelled to go inside and check out the books. As a writer, I need to read within my genre, which is middle grade fiction. Therefore, I always peruse the children’s section and fantasy sections for new-to-me gems. Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp was a recent thrift-store acquisition with an intriguing cover.

I had never heard of the author before. But how can you resist a title like that? Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp knocks it out of the ballpark because the reader immediately asks, ‘what is the peacock lamp? Why is it important? What does it do?’ The goal for every author is to get the reader to ask questions and not fully answer them till the end of the story. The all-important title must get them asking questions at the front cover. Mission accomplished on both scores with this book.

An excellent title is everything.

What is the peacock lamp? It’s a rare bronze lamp which hangs outside the bedroom door of Amelia Dee, where she lives in the greenhouse on Marburg Street. Burdened with rather hopeless parents, an eccentric artist mother and father inventor, Amelia’s friend, Mr. Vishwanath provides the stability and the sanity in her young life. Mr. Vishwanath practises yoga downstairs and teaches the formidable Princess Parvin Kha-Douri and… spoiler alert, that’s pretty much it.

I was not sure what to make of this story because while it’s wonderfully written and a nice ride; it had a lot of promise that went under utilized. It’s like taking a ride at a theme park only to travel at walking pace and never leave the ground. The lamp has such allure and promise, the ancient yoga teacher, his equally ancient pupil are fascinating, and you keep reading, keep keeping the faith expecting things to go somewhere. I think this is one of those stories about which they say, it is “not plot-driven.”

Cough. Cough. Not a lot happened.

And being the big kid I am, although I had reached ‘the end’ I was still waiting for something to happen.

Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp is not bad though. It’s a quiet story, reminiscent of Antonio S. and Hazel Green, also by the author.

The wise mentor figure portrayed by Mr. Vishwanath provides our protagonist, Amelia Dee, (good name) with considered wisdom, calmness and inner questioning. I think it’s admirable to make such values as expressing yourself, letting go, the fair treatment of others and finding your voice the core of a book. Some people have made the comparison to Jonathan Livingston Seagull for children. Some people have said it’s what the parents who read literary fiction give their kids.

You could ask, are kids really up for reading a very adult kind of story? Do kids read this sort of philosophical fiction? Obviously, the answer is yes. Odo Hirsch was doing something right as he released Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp in 2007 and won HONOUR BOOK: CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers, in 2008. This is a dear book and I’m glad kids are reading this sort of wholesome fiction.

When I “Googled” the author, as you do these days, I discovered that Odo Hirsch is a popular kids’ author. He was born and grew up in Melbourne, Australia, where he studied medicine and worked as a doctor. Now based in London, Odo continues to write children’s books and they have translated his works into several languages, for the Netherlands, Korea, Germany, and Italy. For more information, please see http://www.answers.com/topic/odo-hirsch 

How refreshing there is a market for such low-key fiction. Reading Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp is like taking a holiday in the country to recharge the batteries after the rush and bustle of life in the big city. It’s fiction about those quieter moments that occur between the active times, when there is time to slow down and ponder the deeper things in life.

“When you know you are right, that is the time you can be sure you are wrong,” said Mr. Vishwanath.

Would my boys want to read it? No, but, spoiled by modern technology, what would they know? This book is an experience of softening, like a meditation.

My rating: Two and a half stars.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol

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“It is what it is,” said Mr. Vishwanath. “Everything in life is like this.”

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I’ve finished reading my tenth novel for 2021, Code Name Bananas, by David Walliams. This book is one of the most recent offerings from the English comedian turned children’s writer. Published in 2020, and given to my son as a present, we started reading Code Name Bananas in lockdown this year and it provided us with some welcome comic relief. The book is full of action, laughter and secret plots, enough to keep us entertained.

This was my first time reading one of Walliams’ books. His fame precedes him. I knew he was the biggest selling children’s author to have started since the year 2000; he has books in over fifty-five languages and has sold over forty million copies worldwide.

To say I was curious would be an understatement. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

In Code Name Bananas it is 1940, Britain is at war with Germany. As bombs rain down on the city, orphaned eleven-year-old Eric forms an extraordinary friendship with a remarkable gorilla: Gertrude. Eric spends his days at the place that makes him most happy: London Zoo. But during the blitz, the zoo is no longer safe, and Eric must go on an adventure to rescue Gertrude. Together with his Uncle Sid, a keeper at the zoo, the three go on the run. After a harrowing series of near captures and hair-raising escapes, the trio end up hiding out at the seaside, where they uncover a dastardly plot… fall into the clutches of the bad guys… and have to foil the ultimate villains.

The sumptuous packaging of this book reeks of money spent. With a satiny cover and gilt lettering that catches the eye, it’s a beautiful piece of literary art. Tony Ross is fantastic! The combination of Tony Ross’ fabulous illustrations and David Walliams’ wonderful story work well together. On the front cover there is a gold badge in one corner, marketing the story as a “WHIZZ-BANG EPIC ADVENTURE.” What is a “whizz-bang epic adventure,” you may ask? Apparently it’s a story so crazy and unbelievable nothing is off limits. I was a bit startled how far Walliams will go. But is that not a sign of greatness? It was Neil Gaiman who said, ‘The fundamental rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like.’

With those parameters, Walliams may take over the world with insane outings like Code Name Bananas. RatburgerDemon Dentist and Awful Auntie have all won the National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year. The Ice Monster won ‘Children’s Fiction Book of the Year for 2018’ at the British Book Awards and some of his stories, like Grandpa’s Great EscapeMr StinkGangsta Granny and The Boy in the Dress are all available on DVD.

Yup, world domination is definitely on the cards.

Born in Wimbledon England in 1971, David Edward Williams OBE, known professionally as David Walliams, is a comedian, writer, actor and television personality. He is best known for his double act with Matt Lucas on the comedy sketch series, Rock Profile, Little Britain, and Come Fly With Me. Walliams has been a judge on the television talent show competition Britain’s Got Talent on ITV, since 2012. Now he has added best-selling author to his list of accomplishments.

You often hear Walliams being compared to Roald Dahl and I can see why. Walliams has the same blithe irreverence but with a slightly darker edge, and they’re both risk-takers. Walliams is a fun writer, however, the critics of Code Name Bananas have called it “phoned in” and “rushed out.” I enjoyed some parts of the story. Mostly it was too farcical for my taste. I got annoyed at the constant sound effects. They were unnecessary. Though novel at first, it quickly became overdone. If someone is eating, we don’t need to be told ‘MUNCH!’ I almost wondered if the sound effects were padding as they took up a lot of real estate.

On the plus side, I commend the historical aspect, especially for young readers. Code Name Bananas contains useful information about the Second World War, Adolf Hitler, German U boats, the Blitz, the Dunkirk evacuation, the London zoo, Winston Churchill and Buckingham Palace. I’m a big fan of historical fiction. Is it not the ultimate way to grasp information, to hear it in a story? That said Code Name Bananas will not make my list for favourite books of the year.

My rating: Three stars, just.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol

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“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”–Jack Kerouac.

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I’ve finished reading my seventh novel for 2021, Immortal Guardians by Eliot Schrefer. This is book one in the second series of the popular Spirit Animals books for middle-grade readers, Fall of the Beasts. A different author wrote each book in both series, although Schrefer is a repeat offender, having contributed to the first series also, with book six, Rise and Fall. This time round he gets to kick off the sequel series and as a New York Times bestselling author, he seems a good bet.

In Erdas, each child in the kingdom must find out for themselves whether they will summon a spirit animal. This rare gift can happen to some children. Our heroes from the first series, Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan were lucky enough to summon the four “Great Beasts” as their spirit animals. “Great beasts” are immortal guardians who sacrificed everything to end a brutal war. In a strange development, some children summon the other Great Beasts—but then they are stolen! An evil force has interfered with the spirit animal bonds, to steal the Great Beasts and make them his own.

Quite dark, with the hideous Wyrm causing the Great Beasts to turn evil, and the Evertree dying, there is a pervading sense of hopelessness in this book which can be heavy going. I assume this was intentional, and a way of setting out the serious obstacles facing our heroes if they are to succeed and win the day by the time the second series concludes.

Eliot Schrefer does a good job of filling in the blanks for readers who are new to this series. He adds to the characters we love a little and introduces new characters to the fold. Set about six months after the last novel, Against the Tide, the next title, Immortal Guardians carries on the story. Right from the opening chapters, Schrefer does a superb job of drawing us into being invested. One child’s city gets destroyed. One child’s tribe disowns him, and the other summons one of the most feared of the Great Beasts. Scary!

Eliot Schrefer is an American author of many kids’ books, living in New York, and he reviews books for USA Today. A bestselling author nominated for many awards, they have translated his works into different languages. Recently, Schrefer joined the faculty of Fairleigh Dickinson’s low residency MFA program, as well as the MFA in writing for children at Hamline University. You can find him on Twitter @EliotSchrefer.

Schrefer is competent, that is not in doubt. However, it has to be said I found the relentlessly dark nature of this story a drag. The dour side renders Immortal Guardians somehow a less satisfying read than the books in the first series. Is it because, as some critics asserted, the sequel series feels “unnecessary,” and was a case of “publishers attempting to drag out a dead series for money?” I don’t know.

Oprah would say, “What do you know for sure?”

The one thing I know for sure about this book is I gave it a low rating for its miserable excuse for an ending. The content was serviceable but I’m tempted to hold a rally and stage a protest AGAINST CLIFFHANGERS. I was romping through the last chapters, thinking wow this ending is going to be a doozy, and then suddenly it was all over. No wrap-ups, no answers, no twists, no resolutions, no lovely satisfaction of understanding, no being let off the hook, nothing.

The story ended like two fingers in the face. You thought you would get resonance? Ha! You thought you’d have the lovely relief of knowing how things turn out? More fool you! Read the next book if you dare. I walked around the house, railing against the authors these days who think they can get away with unrepentant cliffhangers. Let me tell you something, they went out with the dark ages for a reason. No one wants to read that! I was so hacked off. I’m against being held hostage by my reading material. And quirky whatnot that I am, I felt resistance at the idea of being sucked into reading another entire book that might not end at THE ENDING either. I felt burned, Spirit Animals. Close, but no cigar!

My rating: Two stars.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol

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Gimme an honest frown over a false smile any day. ~ Gregory David Roberts

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It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world–or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: October reflective question: It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand how can you expect other people to want to read your writing if you don’t enjoy reading yourself? What are your thoughts?

While parenthood and other strains have sometimes prevented me from reading nevertheless books have always played a major part in my life. From listening to mum and dad reading us stories from babyhood, to being given my first book of legends, my first book of poems, fairy stories, and so on, as a special Christmas gift each year, I grew up surrounded and encouraged by literature. There were lots of books in our house. My parents sometimes even allowed me to borrow from my sisters’ library, which was considered a special treat.

siblings no. 11

We grew up with a nightly ritual of our father reading us bedtime stories. From the time we were babies right through to young adolescents, in reward for getting ready for bed dad would come and read a few pages to us. He read slowly in his deep voice and it was wondrous to hear all the classics, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson, and so on.

You’ve heard the saying, you are what you eat. I believe it’s also true to say; you are what you read.

The wonderful Kate De Goldi put it best when she said, ‘I’m someone who’s been constructed by books, my sense of self, how to think about other people, how to understand other people’s realities is largely down to reading.’

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Having been an avid bookworm since the age of seven, I feel I’ve been steeped in the cultures and stories of every novel I’d ever dragged home from the library and pored through every night.

I am not sure how you would separate me from the stories I’ve heard and told and read.

So I must accept that there’s no getting away from the literature I’ve imbibed. Those books are part of my DNA. I’m re-reading the Redwall series from the beginning. I got a shock the other day, when I read a character refer to death/the afterlife as being ‘the dark gates’ because in my Chronicles of Aden Weaver series, I called death ‘the black gates.’ I must have subconsciously recalled the phrase from those wonderful books by Brian Jacques and made it my own. I’d completely forgotten the term until I read it recently.

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Do the best you can to be as scrupulous as possible, but sometimes these things happen. Does it mean I should stop reading to avoid such clashes? No.

Every writer has heard that they should read to write. The theory being if you don’t read the best in your genre, how do you know what those readers are interested in reading? It’s vital research to every author worth their salt, to know their genre.

When I was a younger writer I used to exist in a bubble of solitude. It was the 80’s before the internet and personal computers. I was a young mother at home and I did not understand what the marketing of books was about in those days.

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I hadn’t read in my genre (of children’s fiction) since I had been a child. I wrote about whatever I liked. The resulting epic, The Scrifs and the Stirrits, was fantasy adventure for 6- 9–year-old readers with a tale of furry little critters on a quest.

In the 80’s absolutely no one was publishing anthropomorphic, off-world fantasy adventures for 6- 9–year-old readers. They weren’t popular, but I had no way of knowing as I was not reading in my genre. There wasn’t a single publisher in New Zealand who would look at my manuscript. Those were the days before self publishing when the traditional gatekeepers really did stand between the writer and the goal of publication. It was a tough lesson.

Point taken: you have to read to write. What do you think?

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Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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 “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R. R. Martin. A Dance with Dragons

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At a get-together with friends recently, I ran into an old buddy from school.

She asked that age old defining question, “What do you do for a living?”

Being a stay-at-home mum and a weekend writer, I feel I do a lot and that my life is interesting, yet, it’s usually not a great conversation starter. I write part time because the kids come first, and raising a child with special needs takes a somewhat longer process than raising my other two boys.

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When you say you write fiction, people often ask awkward questions about marketing, and I have to confess I suck at all that stuff. I do my best. I maintain a social media presence: I have my website, Twitter, Facebook, blog, and newsletter bases covered. However I can’t do that thing artists do now, where they ask for people to like a page, or vote for them at a story competition, or they request for people to review something, or visit a site as often as possible and share it with people to help them tip the numbers in their favour. It makes me uncomfortable to be asked.

You feel as if every person you know has an angle. Everyone is selling you something.

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I do my bit. I have my books on Amazon, do my reviews on Goodreads. I have a digital footprint. But apart from that, I don’t promote my books, (apart from mentioning them in articles). Each publication is put on the figurative and literal shelf, and I work on the next story.

At present, I’m editing ‘The Last Tree,’ number three in the trilogy, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I’m mere hours of hard yakka away from seeking the first round of professional help, which will see this manuscript transformed from words on my screen to a living, breathing book.

Being an “Indie,” or Independent Publisher, I get to wear all the hats. It takes a lot of effort to put out a decent novel that you deem worthy of sitting on a library shelf. I find it incredibly rewarding.

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The moment you hold that book in your hands the labour is forgiven, the same way the pain is forgotten the moment you hold your baby in your arms.

Used to be, I thought self publishing was only for those who couldn’t get a traditional publishing contract. I used to look down on it, actually. I was holding out for acceptance by the traditional gatekeepers, the big publishing houses. I waited in vain for thirty-five years. Eventually, I had to admit to myself, that what I was waiting for was not going to happen.

Of course, in thirty-five years, a lot had changed about the world of publishing. What was frowned upon in the 1980’s is accepted as commonplace in 2019. Now self publishing is more or less accepted. There are even lots of success stories about Indies, whose books were picked up by big publishers and turned into global hits. These days, I realize this is a perfectly viable way to put stories out there. Even better, self publishing allows me total control.

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I remember one time, when I did get a book accepted. One of my “early reader” books was accepted by a small Wellington press. They would publish the book they said, but they didn’t like any of the characters’ names and wanted my permission to change them all. I said no and didn’t sign the contract. I realized then and there that I’m the type of person who likes to control the end product, and that I like to produce it my way. Going Indie turned out to be a perfect fit.

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For the Chronicles, I worked with the cover designer at BookPrint for weeks, before I had the book looking the way that felt right for me. I was so pleased with the finished product. I haven’t seen the cover art for ‘The Last Tree,’ yet. My nephew—the artist for the first two volumes—has been charged with the task. I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with. Then I can work with the designer on the third cover. And I can also draw two pen and ink illustrations to go inside. This is the fun part after all the elbow grease and midnight oil.

What do I do for a living? I sometimes produce a precious book.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

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OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

I’m going to answer both parts of that question. When I put out The Last Tree, the third book of the Chronicles of Aden Weaver, in 2019, I aim to self publish. But, that’s not to say going Indie is an easy option. I self published The Or’in of Tane Mahuta in 2015 and The Sasori Empire in 2017, and both journeys were equally back breaking.

Going Indie is a bit like having babies: the agony and hardship and gruelling aspect of self publishing your stories is epic. As you sweat your way through the nightmare of endless editing hell and the 101 jobs that need doing, you swear with a fist raised to the sky that once you’ve got this book out, that’s it, you’re done with going Indie.

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In more sober moments, you tell friends that the next time you publish a book you’ll get someone else to do the donkey work. You’re totally willing to go out on the streets to knock on the doors and basically stalk the gatekeepers again, submitting your manuscripts to editor after editor. You’re convinced you’d rather trudge the rounds of submission forever, than tackle self publishing again.

Then, your beautiful baby is born. You have the party, you hold your novel in your hands, sniff it, and you look at it adoringly. Sometime later, after the glow has worn off and a bit more time has gone past, you realize you want to do it all over again.

You dive back into being an Indie with your next work because:

 

  1. Despite the backbreaking hours of hard work, it’s really rewarding.
  2. Every single decision is in your hands which is overwhelming, yet you have control over the look of the whole package, which is exhilarating (hee hee, ha ha!)
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  4. Every single cent ever made goes to you.
  5. I once turned down a publishing offer because they wanted to change the name of the characters! As an Indie, you get to be the boss, and say how the story goes and no one else.
  6. Because you have to do the book launches and marketing yourself, it drives you to learn new skills and expand your repertoire.
  7. You have more to offer in terms of advice and knowhow when young authors come asking. I’ve been surprised in the last ten years how many up and coming writers have asked me questions. It’s helpful in those situations to have a clue.
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  9. For me, one of the big reasons for self publishing is no one wanted to publish my stories the way I wanted to read them. So, in order for me to put out my anthropomorphic fantasy adventure fiction for the upper middle grade market (9-13-year-olds), I had to do it myself. Sometimes, when the slice of the market you’re aiming at is so small, it just isn’t economically viable for a traditional publishing house to invest in a niche with such low returns. So, in order to stay true to the material, I had to produce it myself.

For me, this is vitally important, because my entire life is a quest for truth, for honesty, the essence of things. I aim to cleave to the material the muse gives me.

For me, the gut feeling is this: that my only job as the author is to produce the copy, buff and polish it with editing, and do my utmost not to wreck the original inspiration.

If the gatekeepers can’t get behind my vision or this particular creation, then so be it. I get to say, no matter, I’m publishing it anyway. And, I love that!

8. Ultimately, it feels good because it feels like investing in myself.

What about you, what publishing path will you take?

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Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

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Here, in New Zealand, media coverage of children’s books is poor. I was particularly interested when a fellow Kiwi author shared this online conversation about the topic of the under-representation of children’s literature in the media.

This was the original “call-to-action:” ‘#CoverKidsBooks invites you to join in a public conversation about children’s books.  Leave a comment, write a blog of your own, or tweet about it using the hashtag.  Tell us why children’s books matter to you, and what you’d like to see the media do to #CoverKidsBooks!’

The research by #CoverKidsBooks showed that children’s books ‘typically got 3% of newspaper review space, despite accounting for over 30% of the market.’

This is a subject close to my heart. *grabs soapbox*

I’ve never been able to understand why children’s books are so greatly undervalued. To me, children’s literature is as important as any other genre. Wake up, world, to the increasing rather than decreasing value of books for our kids! Wake up to the importance  of time spent reading for our children!

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When I was growing up, we were given books as prized gifts on birthdays and Christmases. I can remember poring over each and every tome. They were treasured. The first book I ever received was at seven years old. ‘The Legend of Siegfried’ gripped me so completely, that it started off a lifelong passion for mythology and legendary storytelling.

In the original post, Laura Jackson Warburton commented, ‘I think there is still a massive amount of snobbery about children’s books. Not about one children’s book over another, but people tending to dismiss anything from YA down as ‘only silly stories’.’

Exactly. Why is that? What is this snobbery based on?

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I’ve always been guided by the words of famous author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, in 1853, Children are now the only representatives of the men and women of that happy era (the golden age) and therefore it is that we must raise the intellect and fancy to the level of childhood, in order to recreate the original myths

The part of the CoverKidsBooks conversation to really spark my interest however, was when, in the original post, Emma Perry was asked whether children’s books were important.

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Emma Perry: I think especially in the world today, where we’re bombarded by information and interruption, your relationship with a book is so important. I’d like to encourage my children to have that long-form thought and long-form imagination.

This was the key, I thought.

We, the parents of today’s children, worry greatly about the future awaiting them. We see our kids with their heads buried in their digital games, or, staring at mobile phones. We wonder how they will ever concentrate long enough to hold down a steady job or relationship.

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Maybe that’s why children need to read books these days more than ever before in our history? Because reading helps our modern kids focus their easily-scattered attention for longer periods. Something has to happen to redress the effects of the continuous short-term gratification of playing digital games. Books may just be the cure. Huzzah!

*steps off soapbox*

It’s been proven that reviews and media coverage do sell books. Our children need good quality books, and not just in digital format.

With that in mind, what can we do to raise the profile and image of Children’s Literature?

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Out of all the answers given in the original blog post, I liked the comment by Laura Jackson Warburton.

LJW: Daily book reviews in newspapers, not only of new releases from bestselling authors, but of debut authors and archive titles. A children’s book channel like MTV but with books, grabbing kids’ attention and helping books get into the right hands.  Top 10’s, book bloggers’ reviews, celebrities talking about books, book trailers etc would get kids thinking about books, talking about books in the playground and using pester power to get parents to buy the books!

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Yes. These ideas are great!

Leave a comment, write a blog of your own, or tweet about it using the hashtag.  Tell us why children’s books matter to you, and what you’d like to see the media do!

#CoverKidsBooks – The Facts

#CoverKidsBooks – Booksellers

#CoverKidsBooks – Librarians

#CoverKidsBooks – Teachers

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Any book that helps a child to form the habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. ~ Maya Angelou

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com