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GUEST POST - "Hallo teachers! Would you like to write a book?" by Jessica Norrie

 The Magic Carpet is available at http://getbook.at/TheMagicCarpet


I'm absolutely thrilled to share this gem of a blog by Jessica Norrie on the Crowvus Book Blog. It's personally relatable for me, too, as I'm teacher who also writes children's fiction. I just love all the comments made in this blog - they are so true! It's a delight to meet another author/teacher/soprano!
Check out the links to Jessica Norrie's books at the end of the blog too!



Hallo teachers! Would you like to write a book?



Primary and English teachers spend their days with books. It’s not surprising many dream of writing their own. Some make the big time - think Philip Pullman, Eoin Colfer, Michael Morpurgo.


Teachers start with several professional advantages:

1) All child and adult human life enters the classroom. Teachers overhear conversations, respond to different personalities, encounter heartrending or enviable household  circumstances. They see family and cultural likenesses and contrasts, referee arguments, manage errors. They help with challenges and find solutions of all kinds. Here are rich pickings for plots, characters, conflict and resolution for anything from general fiction like mine through crime, romance, fantasy… Many famous horror stories feature children! Teachers can find stories in daily stimulus other authors go out looking for.

2) Teachers are skilled in keeping attention, communicating at different paces with hooks to attract interest. They learn to avoid slow, dragging lessons or rushed delivery that doesn’t stick. They identify those special points that keep an audience listening. Authors who can’t do this are unreadable.

3) Teachers read aloud, noticing who’s still in touch and who’s daydreaming. This good practice is the best way for authors to check their own words make sense and have impact.

4) Teachers correct mistakes. All authors should consult a professional editor and/or proof reader before publishing, but teachers’ marking expertise can save some paid hours by ensuring the best possible presentation first.

5) Teachers check coherence, improving work from first to final draft. That avoids the heartache of poor reviews when readers spot an 11-month pregnancy or a hero killed off twice. 

6) Once published, teachers can visit schools to run workshops (Covid permitting). An ex head teacher sold 300+ books at my last school after giving a brilliant assembly.

What may catch teachers out:
    1) The average UK author earns under £10k, with no perks. Writing is less tiring than teaching, but there’s equally intense emotional involvement and less physical exercise. Don’t give up the day job too soon!
    2) School writing rules are sometimes reversed in the publishing world. Dialogue tags other than “said” are out of fashion, although we teach pupils of all ages to use a variety of verbs and build their general vocabularies. Editors ration adverbs, slash description and reject the passive voice. Teachers award marks for clever language use but commercial publishers say they can’t sell it.
    3) The creative writing world sets (even) more rules than schools do. They’re subject to fashion and aren’t clearly agreed on or displayed. However originally written, a book that doesn’t fit genre formulas is unlikely to get published. Be sensitive to diversity and “own voice” issues. Publisher approval is mainly subjective.
    4) Lesson 1 is POV, and romances must have HEA endings. Otherwise there are fewer acronyms than in education. But writers or illustrators for young children must learn picture book production conventions. If the story doesn’t fit them nobody will ever publish it.
    5) Learn marketing early – start before writing chapter 1. Marketing’s my Friday afternoon subject, explained much better in online articles or writers’ guides. But basically, just keep shouting out! With attention seeking cheek learned in class, when Clemency posted online review requests for middle grade fiction, I offered The Magic Carpet which is about middle grade readers, not for them. She graciously accepted anyway and is now hosting this post. Readers may not know my book even exists, let alone read it, and my new audience don’t, like pupils, get sanctioned for not listening. So I seek and appreciate bloggers like Clemency and repay their publicity help if I can.

If we can do it, so can you! I published The Infinity Pool in 2015, The Magic Carpet in 2019 and Novel 3 is doing the publisher submission rounds. I took early retirement in 2016 once I had enough pension. (It’s still 80% of my income - no Booker Prize yet).

I still like setting homework. Yours is to hand in one book, by 2022 latest. I look forward to the reviews on Clemency’s blog. Good luck!
 
©Jessica Norrie 2020

Meet Jessica Norrie



Jessica Norrie was born in London and studied French Literature and Education at Sussex and Sheffield. She taught English, French and Spanish abroad and in the UK in settings ranging from nursery to university. She has two adult children and divides her time between London and Malvern, Worcestershire.

 She has also worked as a freelance translator, published occasional journalism and a French textbook, and blogs at https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com

 Jessica sings soprano with any choir that will have her, and has been trying to master the piano since childhood but it’s not her forte.

 She left teaching in 2016. The Infinity Pool was her first novel, drawing on encounters while travelling. Her second novel The Magic Carpet is inspired by working with families and their children. The third is about women’s lives in a small village. It’s currently being submitted to publishers by her agent.

 The Magic Carpet is available at http://getbook.at/TheMagicCarpet

The Infinity Pool is available at http://getbook.at/TheInfintyPool and also in French and German translations as Infinitude and Der Infinity-Pool.

 Social media links:

Blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wordsandfictions/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessica_norrie



 

 Blurb for The Magic Carpet
Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan's father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky's mother's enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there's a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka's family. Only Mandeep's fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults' attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

 The Magic Carpet is available at http://getbook.at/TheMagicCarpet

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