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What Agents Want

October 3, 2019

ODETTE ELLIOTT

Jottings following the SCBWI Agents’ party 2019

I have listed below some of the points raised by the nine agents who were present.  As you will see, it was clear that different agents have different wish lists. It seems to me that the trick is to hit lucky, without knowing exactly who would like what!

GENERAL

 Different agents look at different parts of the submission. This can be:

  • The cover letter – to see if the agent warms to the author and could ‘get on with them’.
  • Synopsis – Some do NOT want to read the end!! Most DO.
  • The HOOK is vital for some.
  • A “Cracking Opening” of book = Vital
  • First 3 chapters. Because some go straight to the manuscript.
  • Don’t be self-deprecating in letter.
  • Be CONFIDENT/POSITIVE.
  • Do research on website about each agent – sometimes they need a change if have had a lot of one kind (g. One now has enough “funny”)
  • Cover letter should be short.
  • Even picture books and certainly MG can tackle big issues.
  • Voice is SO important.
  • Be concise and clear.
  • Why my voice is different from others – make it clear.
  • Give the setting.
  • Motivation of why wrote book. Why writing. Story behind the story.
  • Show you can be flexible when editing is asked for.
  • Timing is vital. . . g. if another publisher is publishing a book that is very similar. OR if there is a need for a change.

However, there are some things agents have in common. They all mentioned “be clear and concise”.  They recommended studying each agency’s submission guidelines really carefully.  Apparently sometimes a female agent receives a letter or an email prefaced by “Dear Sir!’

I liked the agents who said “Just send me your work. Sometimes I receive something I had never thought of and it turns out to be just exactly what inspires me to say YES.”

Good luck everyone!

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Reading + Art at Keats Library

September 22, 2019

STEPHANIE WARD

Bring the kids for a reading of the newly released picture book, Arabella and the Magic Pencil. Then, stay for an arts and crafts activity. We’ll be making magic pencils and designing paper dolls of Arabella and Avery. The event is free and will be held at Keats Community Library on the 28th of September from 1:30-2:15PM. See you there!

via Event: Reading + Art at Keats Library — Stephanie Ward

Booking Around the World – King’s Library Tower

August 24, 2019

STEPHANIE WARD

The nearly impossible to photograph King’s Library Tower at the British Library

I love to travel and I love writing books, so whenever I’m in a new place, I seem to be looking for a bookstore (and a coffeeshop or restaurant, but that’s another post!). I’ve found some amazing places and bought lots of children’s books in languages I can’t read. So now, I’m on a mission to highlight all of the wonderful books, bookshops and bookish images that I have discovered on my travels.

Since I currently live in London, it’s fitting to start with a classic image from the British Library. The King’s Library Tower sits smack in the middle of the British Library. It spans six stories and is covered with glass making for a stunning spectacle from any angle. The books contained inside are actually the collection of King George III and include over 65,000 bound copies.

I’d highly recommend popping in the British Library for a peek of the King’s Library Tower when in London.

British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
https://www.bl.uk/

Malaika Rose Stanley obituary (Guardian)

August 6, 2019

JO BROADWOOD Fri 2 Aug 2019 theguardian.com

Malaika Rose Stanley drew on her own experiences of motherhood in her books for children

My friend Malaika Rose Stanley, who has died of cancer aged 65, was a pioneering children’s author, educator and activist. Ros, as she was known to her family, was forthright, funny and fierce, and she made an important contribution to children’s fiction at a time when there were few black female writers being published.

Man Hunt, 1996, and below, Dad Alert, 1999, two of Malaika Rose Stanley’s series of books about Max’s search to find a man for his single mum

Her first book, Man Hunt, was published in 1996; Max is a mixed-race boy on a quest to find a man for his single mum. Told with humour and subtlety, it draws on Ros’s own experiences of motherhood and is laced with references to her local football team, Arsenal. At the same time it addresses serious themes and in particular celebrates a black child’s perspective on the world. Ros went on to establish herself as a popular and prolific author whose work ranged from picture books to pre-teen fiction.

The sequels following Max’s adventures, Operation X (1997) and Dad Alert (1999), were particularly popular, as was her series of “Spike” books, including Spike and Ali Enson (2010) and Spike in Space (2012). Dance Dreams (2013), about an aspiring ballerina, and Skin Deep (2016), the story of a young Brummie girl’s beauty contest ambitions, also found a wide readership

Ros was born in Selly Oak, Birmingham. Her white birth mother, Marina Stanley, had been detained under the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act for being unmarried and pregnant by a black man and was immediately encouraged to give her baby up for adoption. After a series of short-term foster placements Ros was found a loving and stable home with foster carers, Fred and Jean, who she came to refer to as Mum and Dad.

Growing up in the 1960s as a mixed-race child in a mostly white suburb Ros was subject to the casual bigotry of the times, eloquently described in her 2016 memoir Loose Connections. It was not until she attended further education college that she began to explore her black identity. She recalled hearing the song Young, Gifted and Black on the radio for the first time as an epiphany. “My new afro was so much more than a fashion statement,” she wrote. “I was black and proud.”

Ros first trained as a teacher, at Dudley College of Education, which enabled her to indulge her love for travel. Fluent in German, she lived first in Zambia and then in Germany, returning to London only in her late 20s to settle and have children. She had already begun writing when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39. The news prompted her to dedicate herself full-time to pursuing her dream of becoming a children’s author.

She was a founding member of Islington Writers for Children and the Black Women Writers Group and featured regularly as a speaker at British Council and Black History events and children’s literature festivals. Ros was also a regular visiting author in schools in Islington, north London.

Ros was modest about her courage and determination in overcoming the challenges of her childhood to live a full and adventurous life. She was surrounded with love from a close-knit community of family and friends, and is survived by her sons, Garikai and Danjuma, and grandson, Luca.

Link to the original article:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/aug/02/malaika-rose-stanley-obituary?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Handa’s Noisy Night

July 23, 2019

posted by JOHN O’LEARY

Former member and friend of IWFC Eileen Browne has a new book coming out in September. Some of us remember the early drafts of Handa’s Surprise, the book which can now be found in practically every school in the country.

The latest installment of the acclaimed Handa series is a warm, funny story about night time fears with a cast of nocturnal animals and an Kenyan setting.

The Walker Books website says the following:

When Handa has a sleepover with her friend Akeyo, the girls are allowed to spend the night in a little hut near the house. They’re excited to be on their own, but as they get ready for bed, Handa feels more and more nervous. She keeps hearing things – strange snorts, chitter chattering, a big thud. Akeyo says it’s only her noisy family, but on the opposite page the reader sees the nocturnal animals who are really making the noise – and while some of them are familiar, others are very peculiar-looking indeed! With rich, night-time illustrations, sound effects, and plenty of curious animals, Handa’s Noisy Night demands to be read aloud and shared – whether in the classroom or tucked up in bed at home.

We look forward to reading it in September.

For readers aged: 3+
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781406320015
Published: 05 Sep 2019

Malaika Rose Stanley

June 19, 2019

33

Malaika Rose Stanley (Ros)

1954 – 2019

We were deeply saddened by the death of Malaika Rose Stanley who was a prominent member of our group for many years. Some of our newer members will also also have met her when she returned to the group, albeit too briefly, in 2018.

Marion Rose gave a moving tribute to Ros at her funeral last week in which she said:

“Some of us first met Ros in a scruffy classroom in the Hornsey Road. It was a course  for writers who were ‘serious’ about publishing for children. Ros was very serious. Over the weeks we  also found that she was funny, and feisty, and very focused on things she cared about – such as her own search for a parent, and being the best that she could be as a single mum, for her two boys.

All of this is reflected in her writing, though we probably didn’t see it at the time. What we did see was her emerging skill as a story-teller, her empathy with and insight into people , and her determination to champion a black child’s place in the world, with all her considerable creative talent.”

Ros was a former teacher, a children’s author and, with the publication of Loose Connections, a debut memoirist.

Her children’s books have been described as topical, engaging and full of humour. Her first Amazon review describes Loose Connections as a ‘… wonderfully moving book… really well written, clear and simple but heartbreaking too.’

She was born in Birmingham and lived in London, near her grown-up sons, their partners – and her first grandson.


www.malaikarosestanley.com



MALAIKA’S BOOKS

WHILE I AM SLEEPING Pearson Education

SPIKE AND ALI ENSON Tamarind

SPIKE IN SPACE Tamarind

SKIN DEEP Tamarind

DANCE DREAMS (SUGAR AND SPICE) Tamarind

MISS BUBBLE’S TROUBLES Tamarind

BABY RUBY BAWLED Tamarind

MAN HUNT Orchard Books

OPERATION X Orchard Books

DAD ALERT Orchard Books

 

5 Great Kidlit Podcasts

May 3, 2019

STEPHANIE WARD

I’m late to the game when it comes to podcasts. But recently, I found a slew of entertaining and informative shows that have made me convert. Here are five podcasts that children’s book readers and writers should have a listen to.

 

The Happy Book: A Children’s Book Podcast with Tania McCartney

My latest discovery is a brand new podcast (now in Season 2) by Australian author, illustrator and all around fabulous kidlit creator, Tania McCartney. I love this podcast for so many reasons but it’s by far the most informative for those that are writing and/or illustrating children’s books. With 30+ years of experience, Tania McCartney tells it like it is (with a charming Australian accent) and with specific, relevant stories from many areas of the kidlit industry. A bit of the information is specific to Australia, but the large majority is relevant across borders so give it a go. Available on iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa and there’s a Facebook page too.

 

One More Page: A Podcast for Lovers of Kids’ Books

 

 

 

 

 

This is the podcast that got me into podcasts. It’s fun, funny and full of interviews with popular kidlit authors. But what sets it apart from others is that they actually talk to kids about kids books. Brilliant, right? And it’s hilarious. In its first year, One More Page was a Finalist in the Australian Podcast Awards. Well worth checking out. Available on iTunes, Castbox, Pocketcasts, Spotify and iHeartRadio.

 

The Children’s Book Podcast with Matthew Winner

 

 

 

 

This might be the most comprehensive podcast about children’s books available. There are over 500 episodes and some with the most successful children’s authors in the world. Matthew Winner’s long-form interview style gives creators ample time to share their journeys. I’ve picked up some incredible wisdom by simply tuning in and tuning everything else out. Plus, Matthew’s sheer joy and gratitude about the world of children’s literature is infectious. It’s an absolute pleasure to listen to this multi-award-winning, highly acclaimed series. Check out the website for all of the details.

 

So You Want to be a Writer

Practical advice for writers of any genre, Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait share their wealth of experience as writers and authors. Plus, there are interviews with a wide variety of authors. I search for relevant kidlit authors, but occasionally I’ll try an adult or non-fiction author and invariably learn something I can use in my own writing. With 275+ episodes, there is something for everyone. Available on iTunes, the Australian Writers’ Centre website or Stitcher Radio.

 

Middle Grade Mavens: The Podcast

A relative newcomer, this podcast specifically focuses on a middle grade books. Middle Grade Mavens reviews books, interviews publishers and authors working in this genre and discusses everything related to the genre. If you’re writing middle grade, check out this podcast for the most relevant and timely information about this wildly popular kidlit genre. Available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Radio Public.

 

I’d love to hear what you tune into, so please leave a comment with a link to your favorite kidlit podcasts.

Happy listening!

This post was first published in https://stephaniemward.com/blog/

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