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! :(

It's week 2 of Deana Barnhart's 'Gearing Up to Get an Agent' blogfest and I can't wait to get stuck in.
The Challenge: a story chain!

I love this idea and have tried it in the classroom with my students before. Some children really got into it were great at ending on a cliffhanger that gave the next child something to work with...others were less than impressed, or so they said - but their pleasure upon hearing other people's wacky additions to the story was obvious.

I just hope I'm not the dud of the group. I'd hate to be 'the kid' who leaves the story on a flat note and has the next person in line cursing and wanting to throttle me.

And now onto the point that I wanted to make. Since this blogfest is all about 'Gearin' up to Get an Agent' I thought I'd invest a little time in getting to grips with how to go about trying to find an agent.

I found this really useful video. That's about as far as I've got, but I'll keep you posted on how I get on with my agent research in the coming days.

Maybe it's the flu that's got me firmly in it's grasp, or it could be the persistent cough and inevitable accompanying headache...perhaps it's the fact that my strict timetable has been battered out of shape by the first two.

Whatever the cause, the effect has still been the same - I've lost all momentum and motivation to do any work on my novel. It's a shame really as I'd signed up for July's Camp NaNoWriMo too.

After an early morning wake-up call from my equally sick 3 year old,  I decided to force myself to do some writing. Unfortunately paracetamol and coffee weren't enough to put the wheels in motion. At best I was an old rust bucket spluttering to life - and inciting great anticipation from its driver - only to conk out, leaving the driver in even greater despair. 

On the other hand they were a sufficient cure for wallowing in my puddles of failure.

I came across a quote which got me thinking... 

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) Thirty-second President of the USA

Perhaps I've been looking at it all wrong. Like the characters in our stories, life throws obstacles in our way and we have to find a way of overcoming them if we are to reach our goal. Maybe those puddles of failure are actually pools of fresh rainwater ready to nurture the seeds of imagination. If that's the case I'm pretty sure my health meter has enough in reserve to enable to tie a knot in my rope.

Consequently I've decided to accept what I can't change - namely having the flu - but I'll find a way to use it to my advantage and in a way that will keep me on the right track towards achieving my goal. Reading a good book springs to mind!

One final quote for anyone else feeling sick and not-so-quick-witted ...
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) English Naturalist


Hello fellow children's writers!
I thought it'd be nice to have a Savvy Authors group dedicated to children's writers and their here it is  

It's free to access and has an open members policy so anyone can join.
As an official volunteer for Savvy Authors I'll be sourcing articles on craft and other need-to-know information from published children's authors, so if there's anything in particular that you'd like to know please send me a message and I'll add it to my email request when approaching writers.

And if by any chance you happen to be a children's writer with publishing credits and you'd like to contribute an article for the sight, please drop me a line at Your insights and experiences would be much appreciated! :)
I look forward to getting to know you!

Well folks the Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest has arrived and it's time for me to get stuck into my first task.

Assignment 1: Take the greatest, dumbest, weirdest...just whatever kind of writing question you have, and post it on your blog Wednesday. 

 And my Silly Question is... 
When deciding to have a manuscript critiqued by a professional editing service (e.g. Margot Finke) is it important to:
a) review, edit and polish it up until you are 100% happy with it and think that's at the point where you'd be happy to see it in print...
or can you...
b) review, edit and polish it until your about 80%-90% happy with it, but need a bit of outside perspective to help you get it back on track...
c) does the answer lie in how thick skinned you are when it comes to people critiquing you work (and how much money you have too!) 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Happy blogging :)

As a newcomer to the writing scene I've had to do a lot of research into the nuts and bolts of how 'it' all works.

Since I have 1 picture book manuscript well on the way to being ready for submission, and another not far behind, I thought I'd better do a bit of research into where to send them.

This video was particularly helpful in directing me to a starting point. I thought I'd share it as it may be helpful to other writers out there too. Happy viewing...and happy 4th July!

Recently I participated in a forum discussion on e-books and the likely-hood of paper books becoming obsolete.While I'm not alone in thinking that paper books will never disappear, it did get me thinking. 

There's no doubt that technology's here to stay and, no matter how much we might love paper, e-books present writers with an opportunity to reach a much wider audience than they might otherwise be able to if they stuck to the traditional publishing route alone.

It was this discussion that prompted me to read 'Copyright and the Future of the Future' by Cory Doctorow. You can download a free copy of this essay and other articles of interest from his blog

In his essay he talks about the advantages of using technology to give your work away! His argument for this is actually very convincing. Here's the excerpt I found most interesting (It's obviously okay to give you a sneak peek as he encourages you to download his work for free anyway!)
Most people who download the book don't end up buying it, but they wouldn't
have bought it in any event, so I haven't lost any sales, I've just won an
audience. A tiny minority of downloaders treat the free e-book as a substitute for
the printed book--those are the lost sales. But a much larger minority treat the ebook
as an enticement to buy the printed book. They're gained sales. As long as
gained sales outnumber lost sales, I'm ahead of the game. After all, distributing
nearly a million copies of my book has cost me nothing.

And on that note, here's a website that offers its services free of charge and assists you in creating an iPad compatible children's e-book. You can access a video on this from

From the little that I've read so far, I think that e-books could be a great way for new writers to build up an audience and get themselves noticed. It's certainly got me thinking!

Good news fellow writers, the CBI Clubhouse has now added a TV channel to their already extensive list of resources for writers. 
It has videos on e-publishing, getting published, the business side of writing, writing advice, and 'the mental game' which is all about adopting a writer's mindset.

I'd say this will be a site worthy of regular visits as Jon and Laura are always adding new features of interest to their sites.

If you're in the process of planning or writing a novel but aren't getting on as well as you'd like then this could be just what you need! It's 100% free, enables you to 'write in company', and there's a word progress meter too - a sure-fire way of spurring you into action...especially if you're the competitive type.