I wrote my children’s book! Now what do I do with it?

Today I’m again linking up with ‘What I’m Writing’, this week hosted over at The Muddled Manuscript.  I received helpful advice last week when I reached out about how to get started in real terms, and I’m pleased to say it has paid off.  I’ve drafted my first children’s picture book, which has been floating about in my head for some time.  But now it’s actually written here on my computer!

Thank you everyone who commented last week.  Beyond the advice given directly to me, I read some really insightful posts via the Linky.  I tried to comment on the majority of last week’s posts only to subsequently realise I’d fallen victim to Askimet and none of my comments had actually posted!  Grrrr….. That should be sorted now.

So how did I finally make progress?  I set aside a dedicated writing session at the weekend with no interruption, no phone(!), no children, nothing.  This was the easiest time for me as my Monday – Friday is spent either in London at work or at home with children dancing around my ankles.  I just wrote, and tried not to over edit as I went.  Once I was in the zone, the words flowed fairly easily but I suppose I’ve been thinking about them in various iterations for the last couple of months.

My children’s picture book is Christmas themed, written in verse and currently 18 pages with one line of verse per page in its raw unedited format.  I need an illustrator because that I definitely am not!  It’s called Santa Trap and I tried it out on my four year-old and she seemed to enjoy it, sans pictures and all.

What I’d really like advice on is now that I’ve got this draft, what do I do with it?  Would you share the draft on the blog to get other opinions on it?  I have some longer children’s books that I’m itching to write (think Charlotte’s Web length) and I guess I’d feel more comfortable sharing the first couple of chapters of them as opposed to the whole picture book text.  How careful do I need to be to protect my ideas/words and how do you copyright the writing that you put up on your blogs?

Beyond that, should I share the draft with my couple of friends who work in publishing?  Or write an introductory pitch and send it out to some select publishers (appreciating that I’m a very small fish in a very big pond)?  Would you try to independently find an illustrator first?

Your thoughts and advice would be really appreciated.

Muddled Manuscript
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Drama Queen

When I was a little kid I asked my mom to take me to Manhattan because I wanted to be in a commercial.  She didn’t.  And that was the end of my showbiz career.

I’ve mentioned before that C, now nearly five years old, is a bit of drama queen.  When her Reception teacher described her to me as vivacious I knew that she understood my little girl.  Like her mom, she doesn’t tell jokes but she’s got a sense of humour.  She’s very expressive and whether it’s freaking out at a fruit fly next to her seat in the car or acting out a scene from her reader we get many an Oscar winning performance.  Even my mom suggested that she’s be right at home in some type of amateur dramatics class.

The dance studio where C takes ballet offers drama classes as well a talent agency.  I asked C whether she had any interest in the drama class, or the drama club after school and she didn’t.  So for now we’ll leave it at that.

It got me thinking though…if she had had similar inclinations to my younger self and asked to be on an advert, would I say no?  Or would I have a chat with that talent agency?  My gut reaction is that I wouldn’t.  That I would’t want to open up that whole can of worms  on C at such a young and tender age.  I feel like it would come with a certain pressure that’s she free of at the moment, and I worry that she’d become too quickly aware of needing to look and act the part.  Overall it just doesn’t sit well.

But there are loads of families out there that do go down this route and hopefully with more grace and sense than those childhood beauty queen pageant people (sorry but I just don’t understand that at all).  It would be a nice way to build a savings/University fund and if your child is keen, why not explore it?

What’s your view?

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Writing more often

I’d describe myself as a wordsmith.  I love words (silhouette, zephyr and tarantism being some of my favs), correct grammar and writing in generally.  It’s thus really frustrating that despite the mix of children’s books, blog posts and poems floating around in my head, I find it so hard to…get…the…words…out.  As in written.  Instead they live a maelstrom in my head and I’m on a mission to change that.

I’ve been writing this blog in various incarnations since 2008.  It started out as Random Musings and that it was….from politics to my marathon training to the demise of Woolworths it delivered sporadically on its namesake.  Then in 2009 my first pregnancy became my catalyst and inspiration to pull my finger out, document the experience and finally write more regularly, my goal all along.  It was at this point that I discovered the wider blogging community and all the inspiring food for thought it had to offer.

Fast forward several years and two children later, this blog and my writing in general became increasingly shelved and generally lost its vim.  But I’ve never given up on it either.  Ditto a handful of other ‘offline’ writing projects suspended in a latent phase.

Following some soul searching of late, I’m yet again back on the writing/blogging bandwagon.  But I’m a bit daunted, and I’d love your advice on how you carve out time for writing and blogging in busy hectic everyday life.  Do you consciously think about carving a niche out for yourself, or do you just go with what you love, or both?  There are so many inspiring other bloggers/writers out there that sometimes I wonder if there’s even a point…will anyone even read my words, and connect with them?  It’s hard not to compare but in my gut I think it’s the way forward.  One consistency across the years I’ve been writing is that I’ve stayed true to myself and I don’t want to lose that.

One of the reasons my writing has always fallen by the wayside is that I’ve treated it as an enjoyable hobby with little commitment.  But I finally recognize that a book or blog won’t get written by a flight of fancy or all the ideas swimming around in my head.  If I want to write more often then I’ve got to just do it (sorry Nike), to get more organised, to make it a priority.  I hold myself to a high standard in other areas of my life so why shouldn’t I here when it’s for something that makes me tick.

I’ve linked up with What I’m Writing over at Writing Bubble this week.

Writing Bubble
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Books we love: The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business, by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch

LittleMoleWe first read The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business ages ago at our friends’ house and the kids were in stitches.  The book finally found a place under our Christmas tree this year and continues to be a definite win.

Though I’m not a great lover of toilet talk, I’m a realist and particularly with a little boy in the house, it happens.  And if it’s going to happen, I’d rather channel M’s fascination with poo through a book than through insults hurled at his sister.

The poor little mole in this tale is just minding his own business when he pokes his head above ground and a poo lands on his head.  Thus follows his quest to find the offender, which involves an exploration of various animal excrement without ever overtly mentioning poop, poo, etc. as such throughout the whole story.

It’s silly and enticing for kids, a pretty good overview of various animal crap should you want to hone your id skills for future(!),  and a story of determination, detective work and ultimately retribution (in a don’t mess/bully me kind of way).

Check it out!

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Healthy body, healthy mind

She was hysterical, and she wouldn’t open the bathroom door.  “Are you ok?  Let me in!,”  I kept insisting.  But she wouldn’t, and the water was running, running, running.  It was impossible to hear clearly.  And she certainly wasn’t thinking clearly.  There was that disagreement with her roommate, an issue no doubt, but this behaviour was too irrational to fit the crime.  Continually rebuffed, I refused to leave.  Tap and tears crescendoed in a mindless cacophony, until finally, silence.  Then slowly she opened the door.

We sat down on her bed and I tried to comfort her while figuring out what the hell was going on.  Because something had snapped.  My beautiful blonde, bold friend was in that moment beaten.  Why?  I knew she was going through some “stuff.”  But then she looked me square in the eye and said this was more than just those issues….and in that moment, my world slowed into a silent, disconcerting montage and came crashing down.

Our quest to keep healthy and obsessive daily exercise regime….  How she cried when she ate that cookie at dinner one night….  How when I freaked out that I’d bought a slice of pizza because of all the calories she told me to just throw it out and that she’d buy me a non-fat frozen yoghurt instead….  It was the food, the eating, or lack of eating.

It was the moment she told me she was bulimic, and was going to leave school, and I realised that the person I’d been basing all my healthy living behaviours on of late was not healthy at all.  And neither was I.  Perhaps not bulimic, but not well, in body or in mind.  We hugged each other, and my cheeks burned from the tears, and this harsh slap of reality….

I was 20 years old when this went down, and in over my head before I realised it.  It sounds silly to say, but I thought I was smarter than this.  I’d had a friend hospitalised with anorexia in high school and I saw how debilitating that was.  How had I let this happen to me?  While I may not have had a certifiable eating disorder that’s exactly what I had really – I ate, just enough to keep going, but not much at all.  I ran every day without fail.  And eating out, eating in general, lost its joy and only stressed me out.

The most scary thing for me was once I actually admitted my behaviour was wrong, I still really struggled to change my bad habits.  I’d trained my mind in a bad way.  And I imagined that those in even worse positions than me, didn’t want to change either.

So I struggled with it for a couple of years.  Pulled myself back from the brink through a mix of the love of good people around me, a transatlantic move and some shreds of common sense.  And I’m happy to say that probably 1.5 years into my London life I left this sad chapter  behind.  For good.  And while I’m no authority on health, I can say with confidence that I’ve found my groove of healthy eating, exercise, living – for me it’s all about the balance rather than fad diets or work out binges.  I’m so much happier and healthier, in body and in mind.

Looking back on it all, I take full responsibility for my own actions.  My friend and I were not good for each other from a healthy living perspective, often eating disorders can come in pairs, but I made my own decisions.  I also realise that for me while this may have started as a drive to get fit and loose some weight gained during freshman year, it became a wider control issue.  I channeled all my stresses through my ‘health regime,’ so the root cause of it was bigger than physical fitness alone.  This is pretty common for most that develop some type of eating issue from what I can tell.

So why am I writing about this now?  Two reasons I guess.  Firstly, to meet my New Year’s resolution to write more often of the truthful and meaningful stuff.  And secondly because when the time is right, I feel I need to share this story with C and M so they have it in their coping mechanism arsenal and don’t make the same mistakes I did.  The time for that is not now, and probably not anytime soon, but I’ll definitely get there.

Discussing hard truths with children can be tricky.  I don’t want break their wonderful innocence before needs must.  But I want to talk with them honestly about life so that they understand how to navigate it wisely.

I’m going to leave you on that sage note to herald in 2015 – Happy New Year all.

 

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