I've officially been a children's/YA author for four months now, since March 21st 2011, when my young teens' novel, Coping with Chloe, was published by Phoenix Yard Books. This puts me in the nursery class, of course, compared with many other writers on here. I should say that posting on the ABBA blog is yet another 'first' for me, in a year that so far has been full of adventure, minor disasters, excitement, terror and hundreds of iced cakes (see below).
I don't particularly like the term 'learning curve'. Perhaps 'learning big dipper' better captures the crazy speeds, the loss of control, the apprehension, the thrills and the vomiting (if not the actual cakes).
So I thought I'd gather a few of my first impressions here. Let's start with schools. As a beginning children's author, I had no idea about going into schools. The last time I went into a school was for a prizegiving in 2003. Before that, it was a PTA meeting back in 1999. I didn't realise that many children's writers did regular school visits - or how terrifying or (in the end) rewarding and fun it would be. Thanks, Cardinal Newman School, Coventry, for your fantastic welcome, and thanks to all those experienced authors who gave me advice.
Something else I've learned recently is how many young folk are writing books and stories of their own. They are often self-motivated, dedicated and producing writing of quality and promise. No doubt some, as they grow up, will decide to put their energy into other things. But I'd love to think that a few of the young writers I've met recently will go on to achieve publication and wide readership. What I'd have given, as a child, to have a real live author (even one I'd never heard of) come into our classroom and speak with us...
Other things that stand out for me from these hectic past few months are:
- A book signing in Waterstones, during which I managed to pluck up the courage to do a short reading
- Baking and icing over 150 small cakes with As and Cs on them (you'll have to read 'Chloe' if you want to find out why)
- The kindness, generosity, friendliness, energy and warmth of *all* the children's authors I've met so far, through the Scattered Authors' Society (SAS) and elsewhere. Truly overwhelming...
- The thrill of hearing my words brought to life by young readers from King Henry VIII School, Coventry, at a recent launch event at Coventry Central Library
- The joy of having youngsters tell me they liked my book and asking when the sequel is coming out
- The excitement of writing for children and rediscovering the child/young person inside me. I'm now writing about about a robot and having the most fun since I don't know when...
I know the world of publishing is in upheaval and many writers, independent booksellers and other professionals are suffering. I know libraries are being closed, sales are down and authors are being dropped mid-series by their publishers. These are depressing and difficult times. But as a newcomer, I wanted to focus in this first post on some of the positive things I've experienced in the past few months. I'm not expecting to make a fortune, not even a small one, but I can't help feeling optimistic. With so much energy, creativity, commitment and kindness around - better times for the world of children's books must surely be ahead.
Hold tight round the next bend - wheeeee!!!