Sunday 10 July 2011

WIN: An Inspiring Giveaway - Karen Ball

When a blog celebrates its birthday and launches a new-look website, you know it’s time to celebrate. Thanks to the Literary Gift Company, we’re able to share the party with our readers. Normally, we use our ABBA blog posts to pontificate on whatever literary subject we fancy, being gloriously self-indulgent and – we hope – entertaining as well as informative. But today we’re busy eating cake and popping balloons, so we thought we’d pass the baton to you, our readers.

We can’t be the only experts on the topics of children’s books and writing. Our challenge to you is to supply a top writing tip in 20 words or less. In return, we’ll part company (sob!) with a fabulous prize, the winner selected by a random generator.


The Awfully Big Giveaway includes:
· Three ‘East of India’ book marks

· A calico bag bearing the immortal line, ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink…’ from Jodie Smith’s ‘I Capture The Castle’.
· A literary map tea towel
· A ‘Libraries: Where Sshhh Happens’ T-shirt
· Some alphabet parcel tape
· A library bag


Post a comment below with your writing tip in 20 words or less.


The closing date is noon GMT on 20 July and the winner will be selected by a random number generator. We will email the winner for a postal address, so leave an email if you want to win. This giveaway is limited to UK residents only.

Spit, spot! Screw your thinking caps on. Believe us, it’s more difficult than you might imagine to kernel advice in 20 words. To inspire you, we asked some of our author friends to supply their own words of wisdom. Do their thoughts ring true with you?

1. ‘Write in thirty-minute bursts to avoid distraction and reduce the allure of washing-up, dog-walking and obscure internet backwaters.’

Tracey Turner, author of ‘The Comic Strip Big Fat Book of Knowledge’, out on 5 September with Bloombury UK

2. ‘Writing is for the right brain, editing for the left brain. They function better when I keep the two separate.’

Lil Chase, author of ‘Boys For Beginners’, published on 4 August by Quercus

3. ‘Declare war on the word, "was" every time you meet it, ask yourself: Can I show more and tell less?’

Jon Mayhew whose latest book ‘The Demon Collector’ is out in hardback with Bloomsbury UK

4. ‘Invest in a dog. Long walks are perfect for writing in your head and stop your legs withering away too.’

Helen Moss, author of the ‘Adventure Island’ series, launched in July by Orion

5. ‘Believe in your work and never stop learning and improving and writing and rewriting.’

Sara Grant whose first novel, Dark Parties, is being published in Germany (as Neva) in March 2011, in August in the US and in October in the UK.

What tips would you give other authors? Now’s your chance to share! We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Thank you for being such faithful readers, thank you to the authors for their tips and an especial thank you to The Literary Gift Company for so generously contributing this prize.

Inspiration, tips, birthdays and Internet friends. It just goes to show what a blog can do.

Over to you!

Please visit my blog at


Elen C said...

I'm in for the t-shirt alone! V funny.

My tip would be:
write 300 words a day: that's 100k words a year. In other words, a novel.

karen said...

Great tip! Why do I never follow it?

Candy Gourlay said...

I want that t-shirt - my tip:


Linda said...

There's one piece of advice which is absolutely crucial for me. It's 'Oh, just get on with it!'!

hilary said...

My tip would be:

Read your writing aloud. Chuck everything that makes you stumble.

To get yourself writing, consider your bills. Petrol, cost of university accomodation for off spring, and vets especially good. I think it is the adrenalin.

Lucy Coats said...

Mine is 'Creative Dreaming Time* is an essential plot-solving tool for any serious writer'.*aka A Nap.

Kate Boardman said...

My tip is especially for the writers mums out there. A sturdy chair, rolls and rolls of masking tape & Cbeebies playing on a loop.
Oh....and 300 words per cup of coffee. ;-)

Tamsyn Murray said...

My tip is to find someone who doesn't mind cooking for you - more writing time!

karen said...

I hear ya on that one, Tam!

Emma said...

I am not sure this is advice or a statement, but it keeps me going:

Rowling saw Hogwarts, Tolkien - Middle Earth. When you can see through this world and see another, you're a writer.

Emma said...

Oh, I forgot to add my email to the post above:

I doubt I'll win, but just in case :P

Linda said...

Can I add another one which I keep by my desk at all times? Only thing is, it's from Philip Pullman, so if his name comes up you'll have to send the giveaway to him! It's 'Read like a butterfly, write like a bee.' Elegant, much?

ME said...

The advice I'd offer (which I never take myself) is this:


That is all. :P

julie said...

My tip is turn off the tv otherwise you end up adding in a random phrase from a programme without even realising! Also make notes first so you don't end up going off subject (which I seem to do all the time!)

Anonymous said...

advice from Mark Twain - eliminate using the word "very." use damn as a substitute


Matthew said...

Write like you wanna win!

Would love to see the states added!

Leah A said...

Get an honest,reliable friend to proof read your work,in order to recieve constructive critism and not just praise.

Name: Leah A

Thanks xx

Sally Zigmond said...

Thank you. As someone who doesn't get out much, this festival has been so much fun.

My advice to all writers is:

Don't forget to read, read, read.

marcy harriell | oonaballoona said...

i'm in the US, so i'm out, but must share this very important piece of advice:

always have a glass of wine at hand, and walk away for a piece of cheese when stumped.

you don't even need 20 for that gem.

karen said...

Brilliant, Oonaballoona!

Roisin Muldoon said...

Don Draper says in an episode of Mad Men "If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation."

I'm stealing this as my advice. If you're stuck with what you're writing, take a break by writing something else. A letter, a list, a blog. Come back refreshed and with new perspective.

Roisin x

Star speckles said...

Be honest, no matter how scary, but only with your own life unless you have permission.

Pat said...

My tip is - when you get stuck, walk away, do something else. I always take the dog for a walk. My best ideas come when I'm walking the dog. I guess I'm going to have to give him a credit when I get published!

Anonymous said...

Would love this prize. My advice - no distractions, includes twitter, facebook and chocolate biscuits!

madwippitt said...

I want that bag! Actually I want all of it!

My tip: Talk less, write more.

Just in case ...

Unknown said...

Oh I would love this kit. It would inspire me so much. I've spent days thinking about my top tip and in the end I keep coming back to the one which is on my pin board. I hope it works for other children's writers:

Nobody cares about the adults, write from the kids point of view.

My e mail is michelevhelene(at)

April said...

Here is my advice in exactly 20 words:

Write from the heart, let people read your work BEFORE it is finished. It will save you time and energy.

My email is:

Anonymous said...

Write only what is real
To you anyway!

tabitha67 said...

Make a big flask of coffee first thing in the morning - no excuses to keep getting up to make coffee.

Ramblings of a bake-aholic said...

Carry your notepad everywhere (even bed!) as you'll get inspiration in the strangest places

Anonymous said...

I want the T-shirt too: procrastination is your nemesis,so get organised and disciplined - create your own space where you won't get distracted.

hoopie said...

take a notebook everywhere, as your ideas can come from anywhere at anytime!

Sandy Hill said...

Keep it short and sweet; cut redundancy ;-)

Rach said...

Everyone has a story to tell, they just need the courage to tell it.

Sooz said...

Write about what you know and if that's not enough, learn about something else!

Katie B said...

Try to write 750 words a day, even if it's just off the top of your head. It helps keep you creative.

val_s said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
val_s said...

Don't censor - don't be afraid of your unique voice.

The critic can come out and play editor later.

ImmortalBeloved said...

Backup PC every few minutes. Amazing how much work you can lose when PC crashes and train of thought doesn't.

Amanda said...

Write what you know about.

Nikki Hartley said...

Do your research!

Claire Fayers said...

Read everything you can get your hands on, and write something every day.

Rebecca Brown said...

Find writerly friends and hold onto them, you can't buy the support they give.

karen said...

What an amazing collection of top tips.