Shining on the slush pile (revisited)

The following is a transcript from an early Q and Q Friday (Questions and Quacks). You can read the transcript or you can scroll down and watch the video. Yay! If you subscribe to girl and duck you’ll receive a Q and Q video like this one, every Friday. Straight to your inbox. Free! Dear…

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Want readers to sigh over your work? Try this

Universalities. Those little pearls of wisdom… In literature, universalities are statements that apply to everyone or to the human condition. Sometimes they’re accurate, insightful and give readers, young and old, a lovely ah-ha moment. Sometimes they’re grossly inaccurate. Famous universalities in literature include: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a…

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How to survive school visits

If you write for kids, you’ll be asked to visit schools from time to time. Some authors relish this and seek it out. Others find it exhausting. If you’re an introvert, like me, you might find this side of things gruelling. Remember, being an introvert has nothing to do with self-esteem and shyness. It just…

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Behold! The children’s book industry. Here’s how it works

Is there a hierarchy in the children’s book industry? You betcha. If you’re just entering this dog-eat-dog world, think of it like a school. A large, grey bugger with high fences and lots of asphalt. The picture book creators are kept inside, in a rarefied, humidity-controlled, tastefully decorated sanctuary. Busy finger painting. Will speak to fairies. No one else. The…

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One cool way to help readers remember your story

  Sometime ago, I was staying in a hotel in Sydney. It was a busy morning and there was a queue to get into the dining room for breakfast. I was glad I had an apple. Dum de dum. In front of me was a young family. Mum, Dad and two little kids.  Primary school age. Waiting,…

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Help! I don’t know what I’m writing! Categories in kid lit

  You might have caught a glimpse of this post a while back. I accidentally published the draft. Then I had a nervous breakdown trying to reel it in. Luckily, there were no swear words in that draft. Nothing too incriminating. It’s a miracle, really. Considering the topic. Let me begin with a disclaimer: Unlike most…

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Talking heads. Why you should shut them up, pronto

‘Narnia! It’s all in the wardrobe just like I told you!’ Dialogue. Lordy lord, it can bring writers undone. Basically, dialogue needs to lively and straight to the point. Cut any excess. Say what needs to be said, then keep moving. Especially in kid lit. Your characters should be speaking within some kind of engaging…

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Get your characters moving! Here’s how.

  If your story’s a bit flat, if things aren’t moving, have a think about your characters. What’s driving them? In particular, think about your main character. Your protagonist. Is your protagonist wobbling along on a rusty pushbike, veering all over the track, in danger of falling off at any moment? Is she wandering through the story…

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How to fix the start of your story

It was a dark and stormy night. Your story starts… now! Authors, all levels of experience and skill, often drag their feet (or their pen) at the start of a story. Sometimes they’re trying to say too much, trying to give the reader too much detail up front. Watch out for this! Other times, the author…

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Why all writers need a secret stash

Early this year I was interviewed by a rather pompous character called, Bookworm. It was for a Channel 9 kids TV show. I’ll let you know when it screens… At one point during the interview, Bookworm said, ‘I hear you collect words.’ I said, ‘Who told you that?!’ Bookworm was taken aback (and that’s saying something).…

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