Today I’m hosting Day 2 of a 5-day virtual tour for Sarah Hill’s new book, Fearne Fairy and the Chocolate Caterpillar.
This tour is sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center, where Sarah and her book are being showcased all this month.
In today’s post, Sarah talks about her life as a writer.
The Writing Life with Author Sarah Hill
Yesterday, I explained how I ended up writing my ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s stories and that there are 35 books within this woodland-based series for 5-8 year olds.
These 35 are divided into 5 sets each containing 7 books.
The first set of 7 books are all about ‘Posie Pixie’ and her adventures within the enchanting Whimsy Wood.
The second set follows ‘Fearne Fairy’ and her escapades.
As for the remaining 3 sets…..well, I couldn’t possibly tell you who the main characters are for these books!
That will remain a secret until we reach their publication!
Now, as a parent, I wanted my stories to be subtly educational and have real meaning to them, as well as being great bedtime reads.
So, I decided that each book would be written for a specific month in the calendar.
As you read through the Whimsy Wood Series, you’ll see that the flora and fauna change, both in the text and the illustrations.
There is also a proverb or well known saying, tucked away within every story for the reader to find.
Finally, at the back of every Whimsy Wood book, there’s a Whimsy Wood map for the child to complete, using just their imagination and what they have learnt from the story.
One of the aims of my whimsical series is to ignite children’s imaginations.
Another aim is to engage children and their parents and carers more with nature and the beauty that surrounds us, wherever you live in the world.
This is one of the reasons, along with my love of nature and wildlife, that Abela Publishing (who publish my Whimsy Wood Series) and I, decided that we would donate 10% of all Whimsy Wood book sales to The Wildlife Trusts.
Since each Whimsy Wood book is written for a specific month in the calendar, this already gives me a structure to the story that I need to write.
For example, if the book is going to be for the month of April (which incidentally, book 9, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar’ is) then I think of all the events that may happen at this time of year.
Easter immediately sprung to mind when I was planning ‘Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar’ and then my brain (and tummy) thought of chocolate, of course!
Hence, why this features in the title and story!
Once I’ve considered familiar events that may happen for the month that I’m writing for, I then research which flowers, toadstools, trees, animals, birds and insects would be out and about in a wood at that time of year.
I then gather all this information together and create a mind map on a blank piece of A4 paper, with the title of the book in the middle of the mind map.
Sometimes I don’t have the title until I’ve finished writing the story.
When that happens, I just leave this central space of my mind map blank until the title comes to me.
Although book 9, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar’, was launched on July the 2nd (a matter of days ago!)
I have already written up to book 14 in my now award-winning series.
The reason that I am a little ahead of myself, is because I was expecting our 3rd child when Abela Publishing sent me my author’s contract back in January 2013.
Monty, our baby boy, arrived on June the 26th 2013, which was barely 2 weeks before the publication of book 1, ‘Posie Pixie And The Copper Kettle’!
When I signed with Abela Publishing, they’d stated that they wanted to release 3 Whimsy Wood titles (evenly spaced out of course) a year.
I already had 2 young daughters at that stage and with adding a baby into the mix, I knew I’d have my work cut out writing my series as well.
So, whilst still pregnant with Monty, I got my writing skates on, penned up to book 14 and bought myself some breathing space in the process!
As an author however, not all your time is dedicated to writing, as I soon discovered!
Dreaming up a concept, turning it into an imagination-stimulating story and then convincing a publisher to take on your work, is just the beginning!
There is a lot of self-promotion that is required, if you wish your literary dream to do well.
This promotion ranges from using all forms of social media to get your book ‘out there’, to book signings, school visits, library events and other such personal appearances, along with writing your own blog or 2!
My 3 children are now a little older than when my first Whimsy Wood book was published.
Olivia is 8, Poppy is 6 and Monty is 3 years old.
However, life is just as hectic and time is just as precious.
Taking this into account, I have to be very disciplined with the spare time that I have to write and carry out promotional work.
A lot of this is done at night when the children are asleep.
The school visits and other personal appearances, have to be slotted in to the 2 days that my son currently attends nursery.
Monty starts school in September 2017, so I will then have more time during the day to write; although I am not wishing away this remaining year of him being at home.
To see where Day 3 of the tour will take place, just go to the National Writing for Children Center tomorrow.