I’m very proud to announce that we have signed a deal with Susan Schulman Literary Agency in the selling of translation and audio rights for all our active titles.
Susan Schulman Literary Agency specializes in representing foreign rights, motion picture, television and allied rights, live stage including commercial theater, opera and dance adaptations, and other subsidiary rights on behalf of North American publishers and literary agents.
The agency’s areas of focus include: commercial and literary fiction and non-fiction, specifically narrative memoir, politics, economics, social issues, history, urban planning, finance, law, health, psychology, body/mind/sprit, and creativity and writing.
I’m so pleased to be working with their great team, they’re already working on three deals for us and will be instrumental in opening up opportunities both at home and around the world for our titles.
This is the fifth book in the Amanda Travels series about an intrepid 12-year-old girl who travels the world, embarking on journeys that always have an element of mystery and intrigue about them.
They’re a fun series of books which have been well-received by readers. Amanda on the Danube is available nationwide in Chapters & Indigo stores and we just found out we’re about to be featured in the December issue of Quill & Quire.
Darlene is a world-traveller herself, and splits her time between BC and Spain. Please join me in congratulating Darlene on another wonderful book. There will be a release event at Albany Books in Delta BC on Saturday November 19, 1-3pm. In addition, Darlene will be appearing at local BC and Alberta schools in November and December.
For a little more about Darlene and this new book, read on:
Q: Darlene, I see from your website that your books are inspired by your travels, have you been to all the places Amanda has visited?
A: Yes, I have. It was an amazing trip to the United Arab Emirates to visit a friend that inspired me to write the first novel, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask. The places I travel to and the people I meet inspire my writing. The world is an amazing place full of unique characters. Where ever I go I think, I must include this in a story. My first trip on an airplane was when I flew to England to marry my British husband, thirty-nine years ago. We have returned a number of times and I enjoy exploring that country and consider it my second home. My in-laws have since retired to Spain and we have visited them a few times there, each time discovering a different part of that remarkable country. As for Alberta, well I was born and raised there. I had the pleasure of experiencing a Danube river cruise which inspired the latest Amanda adventure, Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music. Amanda doesn’t get to travel anywhere I haven’t been to yet.
Q: How do you decide on the situation or adventure for Amanda? Is it something you saw on your trips and decided to use or just something you made up?
A: It is usually something I actually saw on a trip. For instance, I own the perfume flask from Amanda in Arabia. I bought it at a crowded little shop full of interesting things. I felt it called out to me and that I had to buy it, having no idea it would be part of a book I would write one day. I saw the painting by Velazquez when I was in Madrid and felt the little girl was watching me. I have always loved vintage books and I came across a number of them during my visits to England. I decided Amanda would have the same love of books I have always had. As a child growing up in the Alberta prairies, I collected fossils and interesting stones in the badlands on our ranch. Historical sites such as I saw on the cruise down the Danube, made me think about the stories those ancient walls and statues harbour. All of these things have developed into adventures for Amanda.
Q: How important do you think it is to ensure correct names of places, words, and phrases? Is it necessary?
A: I do quite a bit of research and try to get the details as correct as possible. I don’t think it has to be dead on, these aren’t text books, but I want children to learn about another part of the world when they read these books. So I don’t want to misinform them.
Q: Did you intend for this to be a series?
A: I did not intend it to be a series initially, but once I completed the first book I decided Amanda should travel some more. Children have often asked me, “Where is Amanda going to next?” So I felt compelled to do a series and I’m so glad I did! The more I travel, the more ideas I get for Amanda’s adventures.
How to write a book – top tips for National Novel Writing Month
Welcome to NaNoWriMo! MG Leonard (who wrote her first book Beetle Boy in six months, one hour a day) has tips on how to do it. And it starts with writing EVERY SINGLE DAY
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and takes place every November. It’s for anyone thinking about writing a novel. To take part all you need to do is commit to writing 50,000 words of your novel in the 30 days of November. There’s a website where you set up a profile, with incentives in the form of badges, and a supportive social media community to cheer you on as you strive to meet your daily word targets. And some great novels have started as NaNoWriMo projects, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, to name but two.
For the past two years I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo, although I cannot claim to have ever “won”: that is, achieve the full 50,000 words. I think it’s great. If only for the fact that if you write every single day you’ll develop a positive habit and your writing will improve. I wish I’d known about it when I was writing my first book, because developing the habit of writing every day didn’t come easily.
This is pretty much how every conversation went in the period between me having the idea for my book, Beetle Boy, and me actually sitting down to write it.
“How’s the book coming along?”
“Um, you know… work’s full-on right now, and I seem to spend my weekends standing by the side of a football pitch. We’re doing the secondary school choosing thing at the minute; it’s stressful. Oh, and don’t get me started on the stuff we need to do to the house.’
I – like everybody else – have a truck-load of distractions that makes it impossible to find the time to write a book. Nevertheless, I had a burning desire to tell a story I had growing in my head, about a thoughtful boy called Darkus Cuttle and the staggering array of beetles we share the planet with.
Maya Angelou once said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” And I came to know this to be true. The longer I didn’t write my book the more miserable and frustrated I became. I wrote Maya Angelou’s words on the inside of my notebook. I had to write my story, but when?
I looked for the spare moments in the day in which I could write. I would get up, get myself, and my son, dressed, we’d wolf down breakfast, I’d rush him to school, then commute to work. I’d do my days work, dash back to the school, bring him home, make dinner, put him to bed, and right at the end of the day, once the house was quiet, I’d sit down and try to write. But I was knackered, my brain was fatigued and my body exhausted. All I really wanted was a large glass of red wine and to watch some crap tele. I rarely got down more than a sentence or two.
Writing felt like the hardest thing in the world.
Then it occurred to me; I was trying to write when I was tired. In fact “I’m tired” is the most common thing I say. I had never considered how sharp your mental faculties needed to be to write well. I decided that I would try and write at the beginning of the day, before my son woke up. So I set my alarm for five o’clock in the morning.
At five, I’d get up, make a cup of tea and a hot water bottle, – it’s cold at that time of day – and sit down in front of my laptop, and, finally, I began to write my book.
I only had one hour to write, so I set myself some rules:
Write every day
If you can write 1000 words a day, that’s 5000 words in a week. The average children’s book is 55,000 words long; that’s 11 weeks of writing.
2. Carve out a time and place for writing.
You need to develop writing as a habit that fits into your daily routine. I wrote at 5am in a freezing lean-to conservatory, but it was my special time of the day where I did something truly for myself, and I loved it.
3. Treat writing your book as work
This is not a hobby, or an indulgence, but a serious piece of work that you expect to be paid for one day. If you don’t treat your writing as work, then the people around you won’t take it seriously either. You need them to respect your writing time.
4. Write as many words as possible
The first draft is all about getting it written. The second draft is about getting it right.
5. Do not read back anything you’ve written
You must not look back. You must only progress forward. You are Orpheus in the underworld, and your novel Eurydice. If you look back you will never drag your novel out of hell and into the land of the living.
6. You are not allowed to edit your first draft
Resist all urges to tinker, improve or amend your first draft. If you start meddling you will never get to the end.
7. Give yourself a break
Remember, writing is a job, do it Monday to Friday. Give yourself weekends off. Weekends are for lie-ins, family and having fun. You brain will use the down time to process problems and brew-up ideas.
8. Don’t talk about or let anyone read your book, until its finished
If you can’t talk about what you are writing, or let anyone read it, then you eliminate doubt and insecurity from the process of writing. Other people’s reactions to your work can make you question everything, including why you’re doing it in the first place. Writing a book can be as intoxicating as having an affair, all day your head will be full of your story, the characters, things they say to one another, and if you keep it secret, you’ll be desperate to get to your keyboard, because secrets want to be shared. It may sound crazy but keeping it a secret creates momentum and helps keep you going through the tough times.
It took me just over five months to write all the way to the end of my story. I had written 120,000 words of messy prose, but my story was out of my head and on the page. I felt elated. I had something to work with, to improve upon. I had written a book.
That first book eventually became Beetle Boy, and was snapped up by Barry Cunningham, the man who believed in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, and it will be published by Chicken House in March 2016. I still have to pinch myself when I think about it.
The best advice I can give anyone wanting to write a book, is to write every day. With your first book, this is an act of blind faith. But I promise, if you write every day eventually you will have written a book.
I’m no author. I’ve never written a single thing – well, maybe in high school for an English class, I might have composed a short story or two.
However, I have published almost 100 books and along the way, I have had the pleasure of working with lots of great authors. I am an editor, proofreader, cover designer, bookkeeper, marketer, ebook coder, typesetter and publicist. I love some of those aspects of my job and loathe others. One of the things I have to do that I really dislike is being a cheerleader. The reason I dislike it is not because I don’t like encouraging people, but because the people I encourage often feel they need it – and without reason.
I believe that the authors I work with are all talented, they possess a gift that I lack – and I respect them greatly. So it bothers me when I hear them get down on themselves, their work or their sales. I suppose it is a curse of being creatively gifted. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I doubt myself and what I’m doing, but I plug away and keep looking ahead and then gently remind myself of the things I’ve done right. When I remember what I’ve done wrong, I tell myself I won’t make the same mistake again.
At any rate, because I write a lot of cheerleading emails, I thought I would post some of the points here that perhaps some other authors could use. Some years back, I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – I strongly recommend it. Some of the things I tell authors come from him – and I thus credit his wisdom.
As NaNoWriMo gets started, perhaps the timing of this blog post is good. So here goes, the things I would tell any person who is compelled to write.
You were put on this world to write. To not do so would be cheating all of us.
Very few authors are overnight successes. Most write for their whole lives to achieve only a small degree of financial success.
Define your vision of success. Is it to be the next Rowling, or to simply write down the words inside you on a piece of paper? Or is it something in between? Be specific.
Write the stories inside you. Don’t write to the current trends – if you do, it will always come out disingenuous and poorly done.
When you are in active writing mode, work every day on your writing. You might not write words, but think about your story, research or make notes.
Connect with other like-minded authors and share ideas – either creative or business. I stress the word “like-minded”.
If you consider yourself a professional published author, then treat your books like a small business. Be active in all aspects of the business and don’t expect instant fame and fortune. Remember that small businesses take a few years to get off the ground.
Strive for organic, slow growth. To come out of the gates and sell a 100,000 copies would be great, but for most authors, it’s akin to winning the lottery. Write a book, publish it and market it. Then write another one and do the same. Then write another one. The best thing you can do is to keep writing and to have a bunch of books in your portfolio.
Put yourself out there. Not just in marketing sense, but apply for grants or awards or attend writer’s festivals.
Share your gift – for free: do a reading at your local library, share your stories on a blog or give away a few copies your books to a shelter.
Tell others you write books but don’t force your books on your friends. If they want to know more or support you, they’ll let you know.
Don’t rely on family and friends to support you in this part of your life, the support will come from other places.
Acknowledge your gift to yourself and be thankful for it. Whether you think it’s one or not – it is a gift that not all of us possess.
Be supportive of other authors. Offer advice, encourage writing in young people who show interest, and connect in the ways that are meaningful to you.
Research what other authors do. How do they conduct their writing business? Find out what their website looks like? How do the conduct themselves online? Choose the ones you respect and mimic aspects of what they do. Learn from the mistakes of others.
Never publicly respond to a review – good or bad.
Don’t compare yourself to any other writer. To do so is to invite jealousy, insecurity or a false sense of superiority.
Read reviews, digest the opinion, apply what’s relevant and important to you and then discard it. Don’t hold on to, quote or spend any more time thinking about them.
Write. A lot. Publish it any way you want to. Get it out there into the world. Offer some things for free and sell others.
Don’t be afraid of pirating. There’s very little you can do to stop it and to spend your energy on trying to thwart pirates will take it away from where it should be: creating. And often, good books that are highly pirated end up selling more anyway.
Creativity can foster wallowing. Keep all this in perspective. While you are a writer, you are also many other things. Remember that writing is just one aspect of you.
Did anyone buy your books? Then you are a professional author. The amount you made is irrelevant.
I define a great book as having great writing, great characters and a great plot. Take the time to learn about how to make each of those three things happen. Writing is also about research and learning not just getting the book onto paper/computer.
Not all your works will be good. Some might be kind of bad. That’s okay. Learn from them.
Believe in yourself. I know it’s cliche, but if you don’t – then why would anyone else?
Do your best to avoid feeling too high and too low. When something great happens, take it in stride. Do the same when something bad happens.
It is with honour that we present our final book to be published in 2012 – Scarborough by Ellen L. Ekstrom. One of our veteran writers, Ellen has presented us with some fantastic historical and romantic fiction over the years.
From her first book, The Legacy, which so well captured life in feudal Italy, she has led us on tales of fantasy, religion, and history. Her most recent foray has been into literature which captures the hearts of those who read it. Scarborough continues the story of Alice and Quinn, a pair of star-crossed lovers, and their lives before and after death. Both stories ask the question, “What if I could do it over again?” and show the consequences of being given the choice of doing it. Ellen’s writing is lovely, ethereal and her strength in historical and literary references rings true as she brings to life some of the most whimsical circumstances.
Ellen L. Ekstrom has been intrigued by all things medieval since seeing Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” as a five-year old—when it was first run in theaters. Now that she is in her own middle ages, the passion for the Middle Ages hasn’t abated. She is a member of the clergy in the Episcopal Church and serves as the parish deacon in a local church in Berkeley, California. To support her family and frenetic lifestyle, she works as a legal secretary. Once in a while, she sleeps.
In cooperation with Everheart Books, we are very pleased to present Summer at the Shore Leave Cafe by Abbie Williams. It tells the story of Joelle Gordon, heartbroken wife and mother of three, on her journey back to her hometown of Landon, Minnesota. When Joelle discovers her husband cheating, Joelle returns to Shore Leave Cafe–the restaurant her family owns–and the group of women who comprise Joelle’s family. With their help, Joelle begins to pick up the pieces of her life. But when Joelle’s new beau–the gorgeous, loving, but young Blythe Tilson–unexpectedly leaves her life, she finds herself back where she started: heartbroken.
Follow Joelle as she tries to redefine herself and find happiness in her new life with its new challenges. We promise you’ll be begging for the sequel.
Abbie Williams’ first novel, Forbidden, hit shelves in June of 2012.
Abbie Williams has been addicted to love stories ever since first sneaking her mother’s copy of The Flame and the Flower; and since then, she’s been jotting down her own in a notebook. A school teacher who spends her days with her own true love, their three daughters, and a very busy schedule, she is most happy when she gets a few hours to indulge in visiting the characters in her stories. When she’s not writing, teaching or spending time with her family, you’ll find her either camping, making a grand mess in her kitchen at various cooking attempts, or listening to a good bluegrass banjo.
It’s with great pleasure that I announce our next new release, Intentional Dissonance by Iain S. Thomas. He is best known for his work as the poet on the blog I Wrote This For You. His haunting and romantic prose, coupled with the amazing photography of Jon Ellis, has created a phenomenon that has captured people the world over.
Intentional Dissonance is a solo project by Iain and retains the ethereal quality of I Wrote This For You. Set ten years after the world ends, the story focuses on Jon Salt, a man addicted to feeling in a world full of monotonous and perpetually happy people, terminally so, due to the anti-depressants in the water supply. In a world full of ghosts and strange creatures, the last government is now looking for Jon, for he possesses a talent in which they have tremendous interest. With the help of a few unlikely friends, Jon will have to evade the government, all while battling his overwhelming addiction to the drug, Sadness and his obsession with Michelle, the only woman he’s ever loved.
This story is a fantastic read and one that will have you pondering and wondering long after you finish it. You’ll fall in love with our faulted hero, and in hate with the world that envelops him.
Iain S. Thomas is a new media artist and author. As an author, his most famous work is I Wrote This For You, which he writes under the pseudonym ‘pleasefindthis’ – a blog then book that’s been on both the Amazon and iTunes bestseller lists since its launch in December 2011. As a writer for the design and new media industry, he’s won numerous local and international awards for his work. Amongst other things, he created a never-ending sentence for a monument for South Africa’s Jazz Artists and recently collaborated with musical phenomena BT on the packaging design for his last album. He wrote his first book, ‘Ignite’, at the age of 23 which won the Grand Prix at the First Paper House Art Of Design Awards and a gold individual craft award at the Loeries. He currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.