Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Great News!!!

Could not wait to tell you - the Editor has said YES to The Article!!  My first major acceptance since ... well, the last one.  I need to do a bit of work on it and that has begun in earnest but at least it is an acceptance.  What a rush; I'd almost forgotten what it feels like it has been so long.  Don't worry.  I will let you know when and where it is being published as soon as I know myself.  Keep an eye out!

Good writing!!!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My Book

Having (almost) moved on from The Article (still awaiting  editor's response, but fingers crossed), I have now decided to move on with My Book.  Now don't get me wrong - I may have so far published just two books ("Yucketypoo - The Monster That Grew And Grew" and "Yucketypoo Slimes Again" - signed copies available), but during the (almost) fifty years that I have been writing, I have produced literally dozens of them, most of them "proper" novels, with titles like "Elfin", "The Tutstwaddle Ghosts" and "Three Cheers For Griddle" for children and "In Shadow"  for adults. 

I was dead lucky at the age of eighteen to get some great tutalage from an editor named Aidan Chambers who, at the time was in charge of Topliners - a teenage imprint of, what was then , Macmillan Education.  During our three or so years of association, I produced a number of books for teenagers including "One Boy" , "A Girl Called Sandra" and "Pat And The Kid".  "One Boy" was my first full-length novel which I wrote in about six weeks flat.  Aidan and his team could not have been more helpful in their feedback and everything they taught me has grown with me ever since, including being persistent.

Then for quite a few years, I found that writing and submitting articles and children's stories or poems seemed to work and the novels and books kind of got left behind.  If I think of it next time I blog, I will include a list of my published work and you'll see what I mean.  But one day in 2011, at Croydon Central library, I had my Epiphany.  Then went home and wrote the book I had waited my entire life for.  Any writers reading this (and I hope at least some of you are), will know that when you hit on the right idea, you actually know you have.  I knew it then.  And I know it now.  Furthermore heavy research showed that there is nothing like it on the market - I had found that elusive gap - and it was like all my writing Christmases had come at once.  It is a children's book - quite short in the scheme of things (around 21,000 words), but still the longest piece of work I had produced in many a year.

It is for the target age group of 8 - 10 year olds but its title alone means people of all ages and all walks of life will snap it up (and I know that because I am always snapping up books where the titles have any connection with Creative Writing - oops, almost let the cat of the bag then).  It took me till late last year to get it about as right as I can in three drafts and during that time, I contacted at least a dozen agents and at least half a dozen publishers - yet I could not get a sniff  out of any of them.  Not even with my track record.  So this is my new Quest.  Despite my inherent fear of e-books and e-publishing, I am going to take that route with My Book before this year is through.  So - those 300-plus Viewers of the J P Henderson-Long blog WATCH THIS SPACE ( oh - and anyone with any advice on the next step in this process, please drop me a line)...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Do It Yourself - A Dead Cert

I have just spent a most pleasant hour designing and printing off all the certificates for my Young Writers following the Mother's Day Poetry competition.  Certificates are very important in the Young Writer's Group because it is the Certificate Trail that gives them something to work to.  Most of the members have already been awarded at least four but I wanted these to be a little different because it was our first competition.  Trawled the web looking for certificate templates I could download and use but gave up because none of them had that personal touch.  Most appear to have been designed for schools.  So I went back to my original template, tweaked it, found some lovely Geo paper and personalised each one with the entrant's name in lovely Edwardian Script.  I feel quite proud.  As much as I'd love to be artistic as well as Wordy, even I have to admit defeat sometimes.  On this occasion though I am celebrating because I have come up with some damn nice certificates that my Young Writers will be proud to receive and show.

Oh!  Article Alert!  I emailed The Article to the magazine the other day and am now waiting to see if they'll take it.  Fingers crossed.  At least the editor actuially asked to see it.  Oh yes!  And my Angry Letter - the one about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's house -  published in last week's Local Paper.  Funny how seeing one's name in print never ceases to awe.  I am sooooo lucky to have seen mine so often.  Yet it is something one never tires of.  Almost addictive.

Lovely day at Neice's wedding last Saturday.  The sun shone all day and she, of course (and I admit I am biased) looked absolutely beautiful.  Even my darling old mum made it to the service which was a relief as she is not in the best of health and hasn't been for some time.  But she absolutely sparkled and Neice was thrilled to bits to see her.  Lively reception - lots of food and dancing -  highlighted when Neice leapt into New Hubby's arms Dirty Dancing Style during "Time Of Your Life" eliciting thunderous applause from everyone present.  It is true - everyone loves a good wedding, and this was certainly a very good one.  Couldn't be happier it all went so well for them.

New job also going well.  I am getting more confident by the day.  That's it for now.  Goodnight and Good Writing xx

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Article Update

Have just written a very angry letter to my local paper following plans to turn a former local home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into bedsits.  I don't understand my local authority's complete lack of culture interests, I really don't.  I said that if Rochester in Kent can mark their connection to Charles Dickens with two crowd-pulling festivals a year - why can't our local literary connections be celebrated too?  We have at least five renown authors to celebrate, including D H Lawrence, Allan Ahlberg (whose wonderful Burglar Bill story is still a massive hit with littluns, as well as being a personal favourite) and Raymond Chandler.  I don't know.  I sometimes despair of things like this, I really do.

Had my first Sunday Young Writers session today. Uhmm. So-so.  Not sure if this is going to work, really.  Losing my midweek day off is the one drawback to my new job (which I love, by the way) even though having full weekends back after three years without them has completely redefined my work/life balance.  And not only is that a bonus, but the fact I am sleeping better because I am shot of that gruelling two hour commute at each of my nine hour day, means I am also more inclined to sit in my study and do Writerly things of an evening - like updating my blogs or writing angry letters to the local paper!  I will give the Sunday sessions a couple more tries.  But I know most Sundays are family days, and it is also the day before the kids go back to school and an early bedtime is normally in order, so I guess I will just have to wait and see.  I am not going to give up on it.  I just may need to rethink it ...

Good news re: The Article by the way!  One of the Writing mags I contacted has asked to see it, so fingers crossed for that.  I am just waiting to find out if they want it in hard copy or electronic, then off it will go.  I am so excited!  How did I cope with the anticipation all those years ago when I was sometimes sending out a dozen MSS a week?  Don't worry, I will keep you informed - after all it was The Article that first drew us together, my lovelies!

Good writing everyone.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Magical Ingredients ...

Hey guys.  Just what is it about Coffee Shops and writers/poets going together?  Any writer who is anyone seems to have found that same connection at some point.  I have written so many poems and stories sitting in Costa or Neros it almost defys belief.  Has anyone done a study of it somewhere?  Is it the soothing aroma of a bloody good coffee tantalising our nostrils?  The soft buzz of voices with the background twang of guitars?  The fact that there's just you, your coffee plus whatever writing impliment you have (I am still a longhand, pen and notebook loyalist I am afraid) - and you feel free of everything else going on in your life - just for that hour or so?  It is something that has long fascinated me, and something that will, for me, never change.  I seem to work best in such establishments - please let me know what you think.

Thrilled to bits.  The Young Writer Blog (http://addiscombeyoungwriters.blogspot.co.uk) is showing over 1300 page views! I know that isn't a huge amount by paparazi standards, but by my standards, it's pretty good.  It means word is getting out there and that is so important.  Be interesting to see how our first Sunday session goes this weekend won't it!  I know I have got one lady who has wanted to enrol her young daughter for months - but couldn't because the little girl is always busy on Wednesdays which is when I used to hold the sessions.  She is now over the moon because it means they can come along, so maybe it isn't such a bad thing after all.  Anyway, we shall see

They can hold a thousand pencils
and write a thousand words
but all they ever really want
is that their voice be heard

for nothing in the universe
equates so to the young
as getting their words noticed
by penwork or by tongue

their imagination's endless
their minds as clear as page
every one of them's a writer
regardless of their age

so stand aside I beg you
and let their fount full flow
- the new age of new writers

forever may they grow

Wow - where did that come from?  And I'm not even in a Coffee Shop!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Writers Unite ....

Been trying to get in touch with a writer to come and chat to my Young Writers but haven't managed it yet.  Do you know one?   It would be great if they write children's plays, poems or stories because then my kids could get to meet them and ask questions and get autographs.  Be good if it is someone quite well known but obviously doesn't have to be - as long as they don't mind giving half an hour or so - we'll make sure they get a nice Cream Tea out of it!  Let me know anyway.  Fingers crossed.

Decided today that I cannot go on not publishing stuff.  It just isn't on.  The second Yucketypoo book was published two years ago now and since then - apart from my blogs - all I have managed is a couple of poems and letters.  Should be a lot easier now I will be working 9 - 5, M - F, in a place that should see me home and dinnered by about 7 o/c (instead of the 8 o/c it sometimes used to be) because I should be able to set aside a couple of hours every night to pursue my dream.  And I will, too.

I seriously thought that having two children's books published would open doors for me - and it has in a way.  Just not the way I was hoping.  I have got an utterly brilliant children's book sitting on my laptop which I know will sell, meets loads of criteria, has a female protagonist (very important if we are to give girls a more positive attitude to themselves) - and fills a massive gap in the market because there is nothing like it.  Yet two whole years of seeking an agent or publisher for it, even with my track record, has proved totally fruitless. 

I don't get it!  Surely the fact I have published stuff means my work is of an acceptable standard?  Surely the fact I have been publishing stuff all my long life means I have something to offer?  But editors and publishers and agents still seem to think I'm a complete novice.  Why do they all insist in their form rejection slips that I look at The Writers and Artists Year Book?  Where do they think I found them?  This particular tome has been my bible my whole life.  As an aspiring writer setting out at the age of 10, I used to spend ages at my local library copying out editors' and publishers' names and addresses so I could submit work.  Yet they still feel they should 'advise' me to 'check out the writers and artists year book'.  Drives me nuts! It is soooooo frustrating - especially when we all know there are people out there, that have no talent (and no right to call themselves writers) publishing books that are well - just not up to speed.

So I have now started putting some kind of plan together.  Not sure if it will work - but I will do my best to make sure it does.  And I will help anyone else who comes along to also find that dream.  Five years of running comprehensive writing courses and workshops for adults (as well as for children) gives me a bit of an edge here.  Want any advice?  Get in touch!  Want to make the most of your writing ?  Get in touch.  Fed up with ploughing a lone furrow? Who ya gonna call?   

Being able to write is a very special and magical gift, not granted to everyone so Issy Whizzy - Let's  Get Writing!  Even if you are only eight!!!!!