- Secrets and Tidbits for successful writing.
- Featuring Rebecca Colby
Rebecca joins us from across the big pond in jolly old England!
I met Rebecca in Kristen Fulton’s Non-Fiction Archaeology class, March 2014. What a pleasure it was to have you as inspiration. At that time, you were planning your very first book signing in northern England. It all sounded so exciting and if I remember correctly, your mom, from the United States, flew over for the special event.
Your first book There Was A Wee Lassie Who Swallowed A Midge is a success and now comes with a Lassie doll. And now your second book, It’s Raining Bats And Frogs has just been released. Congratulations on both!
Share a little bit about your road to success. Inquiring minds want to know…
How long have you been seriously writing? And how did you land your agent?
Thank you for having me on your blog today, Patricia! And I’m impressed with your memory—my mother did, indeed, fly over on a surprise visit for my first book launch, making the event that much more special.
For me, the road to publication wasn’t a quick one. I started writing seriously after my eldest child was born ten years ago. As a baby, I read picture books to her before she could even understand what I was saying. Within a short time, I had it in my head that I was going to write a picture book and sell it. Except I had to write dozens and dozens of picture books before I finally sold one a good seven years later in 2013.
It was my agent, Kathleen Rushall, that sold my first book It’s Raining Bats & Frogs (which actually became my second published book). It’s ironic—when I landed my agent, I’d finally stopped looking for one and trying so hard to get published. A year earlier I’d enrolled on a Post Graduate teacher training course and I no longer had time to submit. But one of my critique partners followed Kathleen on Twitter and when she read one of Kathleen’s tweets calling for picture books with little witch characters, she urged me to submit my manuscript. Within a day of receiving my work, Kathleen offered me representation. It was a dream come true and I couldn’t believe how fast my writing career turned around!
I read on your fb page you were squirming to finish a rhyming book. Can you share any secrets on overcoming writer’s block and what makes you keep going?
Ha! Yes, against my better judgement, I’m trying to tackle another picture book in verse. For me, the best trick I have for overcoming writer’s block is imposing deadlines. If I don’t have a deadline, my books rarely get written. And a deadline for myself doesn’t do any good. I need to be accountable to someone else--to know someone else is relying on me. This is where the deadlines for my critique group come in handy. We each submit every eight weeks in rotation and knowing my week is looming really helps to keep me on track.
Tell us how you came up with your stories.
I’ve always loved the traditional rhyme There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly and I’ve collected several retelling versions over the years. It was when I came across an Australian retelling, There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Mozzie by P. Crumble, that I decided to try my hand at writing a Scottish version and the Wee Lassie book was born.
The idea for It’s Raining Bats & Frogs came while I was out walking in the rain. I wanted to write a book about a witch, but I had no idea where to take my character from there. So I went for a stroll in the rain to clear my head. And the more I walked, the harder the rain began to fall. Soon it was pouring that heavy kind of rain when people say “it’s raining cats and dogs”. Except this was to be a book about a witch, so it had to rain bats and frogs instead. As my idea formed, I thought of another saying, “It’s raining on my parade.” Bingo! I had the rest of my idea. I’d write about a witch parade that was being rained on and how the rain was making the witches miserable.
Do you belong to a critique group and how did you find it?
My critique group is the biggest asset to my writing career. I don’t know where I’d be without the support and guidance of the PictureBookies. I’d been in several critique groups over the years but never felt in tune with everyone’s work, or vice versa, and I struggled to find a group where I trusted every member with my work. So together with two former critique partners, we formed our own on-line group nearly five years ago. Membership is through referrals and potential new members must both submit and critique for the group before being offered a place. We are all SCBWI members, and are now evenly spread between the UK and US. I feel truly blessed to have found a group where everyone’s work and opinions resonate with me. I really love my critique group and can’t say enough good about them. Thank goodness for the Internet, which makes finding like-minded individuals so much easier!
Thanks, Rebecca, for sharing your secrets and tidbits.
My pleasure! Thank you again for inviting me!
You can purchase her books on: http://www.amazon.com/Raining-Bats-Frogs-Rebecca-Colby/dp/125004992X and http://www.amazon.com/Lassie-Swallowed-Midgie-Picture-Kelpies/dp/1782500480
For more information about Rebecca visit her:
website: www.rebeccacolbybooks.com or on Twitter at: @amscribbler