Good news for all of you children's mystery/thriller writers out there, British author Barbara Mitchelhill has kindly written an article packed with advice and anecdotes that are sure to ignite your imagination.

The article will feature in 2 parts on 31st August 2011 and 1st September 2011 on the Savvy Authors website. 

If you have any children's authors you'd really like to hear from then drop me a line and I'll see what I can do. Similarly, if you are a published children's author and you have an article that you'd like to contribute then send me an email too.

Happy writing!

Recently there have been a number of striking news stories. A few of them sound as if the details have been plucked straight from the plot of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. There are three at the forefront of my mind as I ponder the subject and write this post:
1. The Norwegian massacre
2. News corp and the phone hacking scandal
3. The Mosman bombing ordeal (Sydney, Australia)

Among the many things I find challenging when it comes to fiction writing is finding the balance between creative and unique versus not going OTT and beyond the realms of believability.

I've just completes a one week 'Reboot Your Imagination' course with Beth Daniels. Over the course of the week we completed one writing exercise a day using the blind librarian  technique. It was definitely good fun and achieved its goal of getting the creative juices flowing. As a group we pushed through the boundaries of ordinary and created some really whacky stories.

I hadn't ever considered the incorporation of magical, sci-fi, paranormal elements into my own writing before. Why? 'Because that's just not me.' I was especially resistant to the idea of using magic and other such notions in my writing as I felt it was a cop-out, a way of bridging gaps that I hadn't thought through properly.

(Not so - each of the aforementioned genres need as much thought and attention to detail as any other. It's funny how the mind can create unfounded justifications for not attempting something.)

However I have to admit that forcing myself to write outside of my comfort zone was exhilarating. It reignited my fading flame to a roaring fire and the ideas were flowing! It made me realise that there are many ways to inject a unique twist into one's writing and keep it believable for the reader.

It still bugs me that movies are able to get away with the most outrageous things where literature is not, but I guess it's all about satisfying the reader...and I'd be highly annoyed if the market was suddenly flooded with substandard, unbelievable stories.  

The importance of establishing a routine inclusive of time for writing cannot be underestimated.

After a month of coughs, colds, flu, and other minor - yet highly disruptive - ailments I'm now left wondering where to begin as I contemplate playing the catch-up game.

The easiest place to begin would be to write up a 'To Do' list. Normally I would dive right in and scribble one up on my whiteboard, but at the moment even that seems daunting!

So, in desperate need of a bit of motivation I took my first step to getting back on track and chanced upon the following quote:

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.
Mike Murdock 

I had no idea who Mike Murdock was until I did a quick Google search after finding these words of wisdom, and although he appears to be quite a controversial character I definitely feel this quote has some relevance to my pursuit of a writing career.

The second step was writing this blog post. Initially I discarded the idea of writing on this topic, however I changed my mind for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this has been one huge pothole on my road to becoming a writer. Secondly, when I read other people's blog they're often filled with stories of success - my hope is that other beginning writers who have hit the same stumbling block will take comfort in knowing that I have experienced a similar problem too. 

If you are one of those people stuck in rut make sure that you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again as I'm sure the end result will provide you with an immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. 

I'll keep you posted on how I get on! 

And on that note I'll end with one final quote...

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
Mary Anne Radmacher 

Gosh, it's the final week of Deana's blog-fest already! The year really is racing away...dare I say it?! It'll be Christmas before you know it - there I did say it. It's also snowing here in Masterton, New Zealand at the moment which is creating a very winter wonderland-like atmosphere so I just couldn't help myself!

And without further ado here are the first 200 words of my picture book TEACHER FOR THE DAY.
This was my first effort at writing anything only 8 weeks ago, and I did so under the guidance of author Mayra Calvani during a 2 week intensive  picture book course. I also recently entered it into the Writers Village competition, run by author John Yeoman, and received very encouraging feedback. 

I look forward to your feedback and hope you enjoy it :)

Teacher for the Day

 ‘Teacher for the day’ was the prize and Emma had won it fair and square.
Emma didn’t want to be ‘THE TEACHER’…but it was a good opportunity to prove that kids don’t need rules to keep them out of trouble.
“This is going to be the most fantastic, fun-filled Friday ever.” Emma grinned. “Today there’ll be no lessons and only one rule.” She tickled the pen across the whiteboard, giggling.
         Seats squeaked as her classmates craned their necks to see what she was writing. There was a brief pause…followed by an eruption of applause. On the board, in bright red letters, were the words ‘TODAY THERE ARE NO RULES’.
"Everyone looks excited." Emma beamed. “I can’t wait to play with my new deck of Uno cards,” she said. But before it got to her turn, there was a rumpus in the computer nook.
         Arms flailed and bottoms jousted for a seat.
“Give me that mouse!” said Ryan.
“No way, I was here first!” said Sam.
“I want a turn,” wined William, “I never get a turn.”
Emma shuffled to her feet.
“You’ll lose your turn,” said Becky.
“I know…” But the commotion in the computer nook was a little distracting. This isn’t at all how I imaged my fantastic, fun-filled Friday!


Phew! I didn't think I'd manage to get this done in time,but here it is, my first attempt at writing a query! I look forward to your advice :)

Dear Lora

‘Teacher for the Day’ was the prize and Emma had won it fair and square. Now was her chance to prove to the teacher that a list of classroom rules was totally unnecessary for keeping chaos at bay. With her classmates 100% behind her, there was no way could she fail to deliver to deliver a perfect, fun-filled Friday, or could she?

“Teacher For The Day” is an 800 word picture book aimed at elementary school children aged 7 to 10 years old. The use of refrain (This isn’t at all how I imaged my fantastic, fun-filled Friday!) helps to create and maintain a humorous tone throughout the book. The theme of the book is about boundaries and the role they play in allowing people to enjoy a sense of freedom.

I am a Savvy Authors blog articles assistant and have completed various writing workshops, including one on the art of picture book writing. I run my own blog ‘Dilettante to Dynamo’, which I make regular posts to on the subject of writing for children. I am also an active member of The CBI Clubhouse, Savvy Authors, and the Wellington Children’s Book Association.  

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to read the complete manuscript. Thank you for taking the time to consider my query.

Yours sincerely
Vicky Bruere

School Street
New Zealand

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a trip to the movies and a bite to eat. Not very exciting for most people I realise, but certainly a welcome break from the children and some quality alone-time for us. Unsurprisingly the cinema was packed with people (mainly adults) anxious to see the final installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2).

Now I really enjoyed the Harry Potter book series, but it's been a while since I read them so my memory is a bit sketchy when it comes to the finer details, although I could quite readily give you a broad plot overview. During the course of a pre-movie discussion I happened to mention this to my husband. He responded by listing off a series of events from the book, few of which I could recall with any clarity.

This got me thinking about the difference between boys and girls and what makes books memorable for them. As far as Harry Potter is concerned, it's certainly the relationship between the characters that made the books most memorable for me. While I'm unable to recall battle and horcrux details, I am able to vividly remember things such as who died, how other characters reacted to their death, and most significantly how their deaths made me feel. On the other hand it's the battles, unusual creatures, and action scenes that stuck in the memory of my better half. 

So far I've been unable to find any research or anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is a common trend, but recollection of conversations I've had with the children in my class over the years suggests that I might be on to something. While it probably seems quite obvious and a mere matter of common-sense to others, the significance of this idea is monumental for my personal writing goals. 

If I'm to achieve my goal of writing stories specifically targeted at boys - ones that will hook them and keep them engaged until the final word - then I need to invest as much time in creating interesting scenarios, gadgets, and action packed scenes as I have done in the deep development of my characters. And while this is something I hope I'd do regardless of the gender of my audience, it's certainly worth being conscious of during the writing process to ensure that I hit the bulls-eye when it comes to meeting the precise needs and expectations of my intended audience.

Sorry...sick children have hampered my efforts and I can't make it. So sorry! :(