Thursday, July 21, 2016

Writing Tips and Other Advice, by Award Winning Children's Author, Sarah Hill

-Sarah Hill 

If you have a passion for writing, whether you are young or old, then I would recommend that you write about what you know and you write about what you like. This is because your knowledge, interest, and love of this subject matter will show in your writing. Immerse yourself within the topic you have chosen to write about. Spend time in that environment and understand the audience you are writing for. I am fortunate to be invited into schools for author visits and to judge children's writing competitions. Not only do I thoroughly enjoy these 'extra-curricular' activities that I'm asked to do, but I'm able to engage with the audience that I write my Whimsy Wood children's series for, and this is vital. 

The next thing I would say is that you must sit down and write. I know this sounds simple in theory, but there can be so many distractions and other things you can find to do rather than actually writing. Facing a blank page in your notebook or on your laptop can be very off-putting, daunting, and even a little scary! So much so that during the creative writing workshops I run for children, the first thing that I'll ask them to do is to pick up their pen or pencil and scribble all over the blank piece of paper on their desk. Once they've 'beaten the blank piece of paper' so to speak, and got their pen or pencil in contact with the paper, we then turn the paper over and start our creative writing workshop properly!

Don't hold back, or let yourself get hung-up on grammar or sentence structure initially. What's important when you first start writing is to get the story-line that is whirling itself around in your head down on paper. Once you've got that down, then go back and correct your grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. Be prepared to rewrite your work numerous times until you are completely and utterly satisfied with what you have written.

OK, so you now have your brilliantly written manuscript in front of you.  First things first, you must believe 110%  in what you have written and created. If you don't believe whole-heartedly in your story, novel or series, no-one else will. Always remember that the world of literature, especially children's literature, is incredibly competitive. You will come across rejection, but do not be put off by this and do not give up. If you receive a rejection letter, pick yourself up, rework your manuscript and resubmit it to another publishing house or literary agent. Please accept and understand that this is the 'nature of the beast'. Take on any constructive criticism, if you're fortunate enough to receive this, following submitting your manuscript and realise that every successfully published author has gone through a similar journey.

Finally, ensure you create yourself a support network of fellow writers on your road to, and after, publication. Join local writing groups and get yourself a writing coach. I subscribed to Suzanne's 'The Morning Nudge' a few years ago and receiving these free, daily emails really helped maintain my focus. If you are writing for children, then I would highly recommend you join the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). You do not have to be a published author to join this wonderfully supportive international group. Writing can, at times, be a little lonely and insular, so having these groups along with regular interaction with like-minded people really does help further your writing career.

All that is left for me to say on the subject of writing tips, is that I have a wonderfully inspirational quote hanging up in my bedroom, which I read every morning and every night. This quote is by the marvelous Audrey Hepburn and says.... ' Nothing is impossible. The word itself says "I'm possible". '

Sarah Hill is an award winning children's author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Why You Can't Afford to Get Lazy with Your Writing!

-Pamela Woods-Jackson

As writers, we all have a basic grasp of grammar and punctuation, but in this technological age, we've gotten lazy when composing short texts, social media posts or emails. No caps, no commas, and auto-correct are the order of the day. Remember that your social media presence represents YOU to your readers, many of whom have never met you. Therefore it's important to be diligent about putting your best foot forward. In other words, EDIT EDIT EDIT and then PROOFREAD! It's one thing to fire off a quick text to a friend, but it's quite another matter to allow that lackadaisical attitude to creep into your professional writing. There is no excuse for misspelling a word, or confusing homonyms like you're and your, it's and its, or their there and they're. These kinds of easily corrected mistakes distract from the quality of your manuscript and often result in rejection from a publisher or literary agent. You don't want your fantastic story to be turned down simply because the editor couldn't slog her way through the grammatical errors. 

If editing isn't your thing, you can always hire someone to do it for you. If that isn't in the budget, see if you can work a trade with another author or even an English teacher. As a high school English teacher, I was always willing to help out fellow writers, and you probably know someone with a degree in English who would be just as generous. However you go about it, please don't send your work out to perspective publishers or agents until it is in the best possible shape. Even a few minor mistakes can get your manuscript rejected, so get ahead of the competition by making your mechanics as great as your story!

My contemporary romance CERTAINLY SENSIBLE, released December 2, 2015 by The Wild Rose Press, is a Gold Medal winner in the 2016 Literary Classics Award Contest. I am also the author of CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE PSYCHIC (The Wild Rose Press, 2010), which was a 2011 Epic Ebook Contest finalist. A follow up novel has just been accepted for publication by The Wild Rose Press. My YA novel GENIUS SUMMER was released in November, 2014, by Vinspire Publishing. It was a finalist in the 2013 San Francisco Writers Contest, received high marks in the 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Contest, and was awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval in 2015. 

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