New Series of Stories
As you will know, if you’ve been following my blog, I’m off to the Winchester Writers’ Festival in June. While I’m there, I’ll have the chance to pitch two of my novels to literary agents. In the last few weeks, therefore, I’ve been trying to get two of my children’s novels edited and ready to submit. But one thing after another has kept me from working on them. So last weekend, I decided it was time to start writing a new series of stories.
Now, I realise this may make me look like a bit of a butterfly, flitting from one project to another without ever finishing one. But this was a hard-headed decision. It was not looking likely that I would finish both sets of editing in time, so I had to do something else. And I’d had this idea floating around in the back of my brain since shortly after watching a training video about writing short children’s stories for the Amazon market. I had intended these novels, aimed at 7-10 year-olds, to be around 5,000 words long, but it looks like they may end up about twice that length.
As you may know, I follow a pagan path. A couple of years ago, I took a course in the Ogham, an ancient script used by the former inhabitants of the British Isles, and it still fascinates me. Apparently there were once many sets of meanings to the Ogham, as anyone undertaking Bardic training would have had to learn quite a few. But these days, we only know of one, and that’s the Tree Ogham. Now, depending on which system you follow, there are either 20 or 27 characters in the Ogham ‘alphabet’. Each character is associated with a different species of tree. My intention is to write a short children’s novel about each of them. That should give me a nice long series to get my teeth into.
It’s going well. The people at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) did a challenge in April where you could set your own word count to write to. Using this as inspiration, I’ve already written the first story, Birch, and done a first edit. (That makes me a ‘winner’ of NaNoWriMo twice in less than a year!) I’m now writing the second story, based on Rowan. The series is called Folk of the Friendly Forest, and these are the first books in the Ogham Series. (You see that I’ve left open the possibility of writing other books in the Folk of the Friendly Forest series, if I have more stories to tell than there are Ogham characters!)
In brief, I’m researching (and intuiting) information on the characteristics of each of the trees, including their healing properties, mythology, and the uses to which the wood and other parts have traditionally been put. I’ve mapped it all out in a spider diagram. Then I sleep on the information, and see which elements gel into a storyline. If I get stuck, or need to check the detail of something I vaguely remember, I go back to my spider diagram and remind myself. Otherwise, I go with whatever has come to me.
As these stories are written specifically for pitching to agents, I won’t be posting extracts here just yet. But after Winchester? Well, we’ll wait and see how it goes. There will be news, I promise you. Just keep watching this space. Fingers crossed – there may even be a publishing deal out there for them, if all goes completely to plan … And if there is, well, perhaps the longer novels will also be snapped up by some forward-thinking publisher?
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