Hello! I often get sent messages asking me really great writing questions. I love hearing from readers but I also love internet safety – unless we’ve met in real life, we can’t be sure we’re really talking to who we think we’re talking to so, to keep everybody safe in this crazy world, you can pop a question below in the comments, once I’ve approved it, I’ll reply.
Here’s one to start:
Is it hard for you to come up with story ideas or do they come naturally? Because there are some authors that have ideas straight away but there are others where it takes them a while to figure out a story. Caitlin B
I have what’s lovingly called ‘ an over active imagination’. I’m a real day dreamer so I see story ideas EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere. I can see an ant carrying a heavy bit of leaf and think…hmmm, I bet some evil overlord ant is making that one work as a slave, and he’s probably plotting an escape with his best friend who'[s actually a non-binary ant with there own issues and doesn’t really want… YOU GET THE IDEA.
But ideas, aren’t story. Story takes a bit of crafting – I do a popular workshop about ‘Ideas, Plot & Structure because the three things need each other to make a really great story.
ADULT PLOT & STRUCTURE WORKSHOP 13TH AUGUST BOOK NOW
I’m an award winning author of books for teens, part of the BBC teach series for English and an experienced workshop tutor. This summer I’ve taken my workshops online so if you have a budding writer in your family, why not sign them up for the first one? Ideas, Plot & Structure. There are 2 age groups 9-11 and 12 to 16. Places are limited and it’s only £12 for 90 minutes of inspiring, fun and informative teaching!
Covid-19 has stopped me from doing something I love. I can’t visit schools, I can’t be part of festivals, I can’t share my love of books and writing anywhere where I might be part of spreading the virus.
While I desperately miss getting out and about and meeting readers in person, I am now offering author visits through Kathryn Evans Online.
It’s a new service, I can’t promise there won’t be teething troubles, but it’s competitively priced and designed to flex with challenging timetables!
From video hire, to live workshops and Q & A’s , I hope I have something to offer that will enable young people to continue to have an enriched learning experience with as little trouble and expense to the organisers as possible.
Let me know what you think, point out the glitches, share your ideas!
I’ve been looking through my ideas file for the next thing I want to work on, and found something I want to share with you, especially if you are an unpublished writer feeling like it’s never going to happen.
It’s from 2010, the early days of Facebook and it mattered to me so much, I screenshot the thread and saved it.
Kathryn Evans would like to feel a little more positive about the possibility of ever getting a book deal but, shall instead, be grateful for what she’s got. Honest.
I hope the lovely people who replied don’t mind me sharing their responses, here are a few of them – I’ve redacted their names just in case!
Group ‘grrrr’ much appreciated and thanks guys……it was something Cxx said about 3 out of 300 subs from agents being accepted by an editor last year… from agents…..I know the talent level out there is phenomenal – which IS great for children’s literature but, but, but….
The book I spent 19 months writing has had 7 rejections to date so I can sympathise Kathryn. Every reason under the sun given from – it’s got a boy as the main protagonist (God forbid!) to – it’s too issue driven and not my usual light comedy. It does start to get me down sometimes but as you say, it’s important to be grateful for the royalties that keep my affloat while I’m waiting! Keep smiling. 🙂
I wish I could make you feel better but I can’t, except perhaps to say, I’m sure it will happen and I love Shem and when it does happen I want a signed copy and an interview for my blog and an invite to the book publication party and… well, here’s a virtual hug in the mean time (( xx ))
You’ll get there, Kathryn! It’s just taking longer for everyone’s manuscripts to find a home. So many editors have lost their jobs that it’s making them gun shy. But they still need books to publish… 🙂
You will get there. You ARE getting there. Me too and we shall each have our books in stores at the same time! I shall see your titles and you shall see mine. We shall each have little endcaps. Pact? Intend it, baby!
oh I know i can’t say anything knowledgeable about publishing (except there are some mad ones out there because Dylan and Mouse hasn’t been published yet) but….as soon as it happens, I’ll be first in the queue at Waterstones!!xx
Kathy. “Hi!” Just logged on for the first time today. The editor Cxx is referring to is, I believe, J-H-W and I’ve no reason to doubt her if she claims that she only went for 3 out of the 300 agency-submitted manuscripts… but if every editor chooses a different 3 out of 300, what’s to say that one of your manuscripts won’t be one of them? You have talent. You have an agent and you have perseverance. A winning combination, I reckon.
oh but i think your writing does stand out. it’s just a matter of finding the right editor … i think getting that yes isn’t like a love-in, the editor has to fall head over heels for all the right reasons. i know people who are disappointed with their writing life because they are taken on for the wrong reasons (eg commercial ideas, exploitable). i have to say though that i felt exactly like you did last year.
I shall print these comments off and stick them to the inside of my brain x
I did print them off, and they kept me going until the right manuscript, and my super agent, Sophie Hicks, cracked it.
More of Me was published in 2016, my next novel comes out early next year – I’m still not supposed to talk about it but it won’t hurt to tell you that Shem, one of the characters mentioned above, lives again – different story, same boy. Nothing is ever wasted – which is why I’m going back through my old files and why you, if you are still trying to break through, should keep going.
Lean on your friends, join a writer’s group, if you’re a children’s book writer or illustrator join SCBWI, try and bump over the disappointments and revel in the highs. I’ve said it so many times but if you are a writer, you have no choice so you might as well get on with it and try and enjoy the ride. Your pals will help. They really will.
Sometimes, when you start on a journey, there are certain dreams that seem ridiculously beyond your reach but you dream them anyway because they just keep you going. And sometimes, ridiculously, no matter how far beyond your reach they seem, those dreams can come true.
The Society of Children’s Book writers and Illustrators is an organisation I’ve belonged to for years. Through SCBWI workshops and critique groups I’ve learned my craft, and as a volunteer I’ve grown a hugely supportive network of friends and colleagues.
SCBWI members are a mix of published and unpublished writers all on a journey to produce the best work they can and I think that shows in the standard of entries for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. It’s a peer-given award to traditionally published writers and illustrators , recognising great books from 15 regions around the world.
Here are the shortlisted titles for the UK and Ireland in 2017 – I’ve read and loved them all – anyone of them would be a worthy winner. In fact, if you’ve gaps in your To Be Read pile, take them as recommendations.
Patrice Lawrence – Orange Boy
A gritty urban thriller with a powerful family drama at its heart – Winner of the Waterstones Prize for Older Children, Shortlisted for The Costa Prize.
Peter Bunzle – Cogheart
A steampunk tale of ambition, pursuit and revenge – The Guardian. Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award.
‘A thrilling YA sci-fi adventure reminiscent of Hunger Games and Star Wars … a fantastic page-turner with great characters in Kyle and Sky’ Booktrust
A gutsy adventure-packed tale of the Guy Fawkes story told from 12 year old Tom’s point of view as he struggles to save his father in a world that’s against him.
In intense psychological thriller selected for the Zoella book Club and a really brilliant page turner.
And in case there is still space on your bookshelf, here are some previous winners…
Teri Terry – Mind Games
A complex and futuristic thriller that, even at a hefty 433 pages, will leave you wanting more…another stunning example of Teri Terry doing what she does best (The School Librarian)
Teri has won so many awards I can’t even list them all.
Claire Furniss – The Year of The Rat
Beautifully written and emotionally charged debut about love, loss and families. Would appeal to fans of Annabel Pitcher. (The Bookseller)
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase, Longlisted for the Cilip Carnegie Medal
And the 2017 winner…
Well… More of Me by Kathryn Evans
Dreams really can come true if you just don’t give up.
It’s the only largest organisation for published AND unpublished writers in the world and I’ve been part of it for years. Holding hands with fellow writers as we climb through the snowdrift of rejection letters to publication has kept many of us going.
So to celebrate 20 fabulous years this year, the utterly wonderful Candy Gourlay thought it would be cool to share some of those rejections – and boy were there a lot to choose from! Members donated them left, right and center and here they are to inspire you to keep going. Quite a lot of the donated rejections came from authors who are published now…but they shall remain anonymous, as indeed, will the agents and editors from whence they came…
P.S. No agents or editors were (C)harmed in the making of this video.
P.P.S. We love our agents and editors. Especially the ones who said YES!
P.P.P.S. And the ones that didn’t, they’re so often right…but not always…