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Alexander Residence: Sophie King told me to write this book

Friday, 1 July 2011

Sophie King told me to write this book

Journalist and Novelist Sophie King led a writing workshop at Cybermummy.  I arrived late, so this post is not about some of the more fiery debates Sophie's workshop fuelled, which went over my head completely.  I was the one tweeting:

 Alexander Residence 


I consider myself a writer, although I am not yet published.  After giving up teaching to be a full time mum I decided to complete a Diploma in Creative writing with the Open University which I finished last month.  I have amassed a pile of short stories, plays, life writing and half of two novels.  Now I have promised myself I will work on getting published.

When Sophie asked for examples of funny things our children said, I shared the title of my favourite post
Mummy I want to go to the Moon and you're not letting me.  Sophie responded by saying why not make it into a children's book.  So I have written the first draft.  This post is very special to me, it's about struggling to be a mum when you're losing your mum, and it captures all of the space and universe in between.  As a children's book of course, it won't convey all of that, but I would like to dedicate it to my mum.

So Sophie's suggestions to other bloggers may have gone down like a lead balloon, but I am hoping her suggestions may take me, or at least my daughter's literary equivalent, to the moon.  I have been looking at what is out there already.  Of course lots of writers have documented children's desire to get to the moon, but I still think this story is unique.

I also wrote a poem with the lovely Holly who runs Mabel and Milo, handpicked clothes and toys with a retro and vintage twist.  Sophie gave us the prompt 'I wish I hadn't'.

I wish I hadn't
had children
But then
if I hadn't
I wouldn't
laugh so everyday.

That was written in one minute, with no time to edit.  I like the fact we censored ourselves initially, guilty at how easily that statement flows off the tongue. But then, as every parent does, we did the juggling, and pushed on to a bigger, more beautiful picture.

Collaborations can be exciting.  Jay Mountford, who ran the photography workshop at Cybermummy 11, lent me her Moon photograph for my original Mummy I want to go to the moon blog post.  If there are any children's book illustrators who want to work on a story about getting to the moon, or anyone who knows the faintest thing about children's book publishing, please get in touch.

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At 1 July 2011 at 20:20 , Blogger Emma said...

That's awesome! I'm really glad that you got something positive from her session! I haven't had enough time to really do any writing since CyberMummy but I'm hoping to change that over the weekend :-) x

At 1 July 2011 at 20:37 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely posts. Lovely poem. The best thing you could do is order the Children's Writers and artists yearbook. It will take you through everything - lists of publishers, lists of agents, top tips from published childrens authors, and the pro's and cons of going through an agent. Also, most publishers for kids books want illustrations submitted seperately,and usually find a suitable illustrator themselves if the writing is strong enough. Good luck! x

At 1 July 2011 at 21:04 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your poem, it is just how all my posts seem to go. I moan about having no time and kids being naughty and then end up saying how great they are!

Good luck with the book writing, the moon comment sounds like something my children would say. Z is determind to go to space when he is 18. :-)

I am an OU student now. I wish I had finished :-). Well done you, it must feel fantastic to have finished.

At 1 July 2011 at 22:22 , Blogger Rachel Faith said...

May you shoot for the stars and land on the moon.

Great idea, good luck :)

At 2 July 2011 at 06:52 , Anonymous Midlife Singlemum said...

Looking forward to reading the book.

At 2 July 2011 at 07:57 , Anonymous Kirsty said...

Good for you, well done. I think the best children's books are simple, but with hidden depths, and I bet you could turn your ideas into one like that.

At 2 July 2011 at 08:05 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me too, sounds like it will be brilliant. I too love writing children's stories so you've inspired me to get off my bottom and do something about it x

At 2 July 2011 at 08:06 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now following you too x

At 2 July 2011 at 08:14 , Blogger Kate said...

How exciting! You should tweet to see if any artists would be interested. Just a matter of finding the right people now. x

At 2 July 2011 at 08:15 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How exciting and when you are published Antonia Chitty has invaluable contacts and information to get you out there.

Good luck with it, can't wait to see it x

At 2 July 2011 at 09:39 , Anonymous northernmum said...

Penny I am sure you will be published. And then we will all stand shyly in a line waiting for you to sign our copies.

Good luck x

At 2 July 2011 at 10:42 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Aw thank you. So lovely to have so much advice and support. That's what blogging is all about. Have just started Erica and Antonia's next e-course, for mums wanting to start their own business, its fab.
Emma- do it and keep in touch on how you get on :)
waterbirthplease- brilliant, will buy that book with the amazon token the fairy hobmother sent me. Have the Writer's one, but not the children's writing version.
Mummymummymum- it was a huge relief! Not easy juggling study with kids/work etc. Good luck to you :)

At 2 July 2011 at 10:44 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Not yet a yummy mummy = oooh keep in touch on how it goes?
RAchel, Kate, Midlife Single mum, Northern Mum, Kirsty Thank you xxxxx

At 4 July 2011 at 08:14 , Anonymous Honest Mum said...

Loved your poem, you are clearly a natural writer. You write like a dream in your blog so journalistic skills ticked and now creative writing... as you know writing is all about rewriting so write, write, write. As a supposedly 'professional writer/screenwriter' whatever that means (OK I get paid to write-sometimes) I know only too well how wriggled in self doubt writers can be/are/am-but you have to hone your voice and be courageous about doing so, as you are.

I looked into a children's book a while back and got a little sidetracked with filmmaking, but go out and buy the book CONTACTS (Waterstones with have it). In there are lots of children's literary agents-do your research online once you have the names etc and check out authors they represent in a similar style to your own as well as ones that vary but not massively, and perhaps start there. Without an agent your 3 chapters (I think it's 3 and a synopsis of the rest of the chapters of your book) will hit what is know as a publisher's slush pile and could quite possibly never be read-although JK Rowling will say otherwise as an intern read her chapters and the rest is history.

Once you have an agent, they have relationships with publishers though and will really push your book.

I know some incredible illustrators I can forward details to if you like on email-some illustrators tend to draw and write their own books but once you have a cracking story, I'm sure you can find someone. It's hard to get an illustrator on no pay I suppose too but could be possible if the story grabs them.

The main thing is to keep pushing and keep writing. Go and buy 'Becoming a Writer' by Dorethea Brande-the best book on writing in the world in my opinion and one I use when lecturing and then George Orwell's Why I Write for inspiration.

You can do it!



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