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Contracts, proofs and Takeshita Demons II and III?

Last week I had an extremely exciting meeting with my publisher, Janetta Otter-Barry, at the Frances Lincoln HQ. It was the first time we’d met since Fergus was born, and of course, Ferg had to come along too (I’d hate for him to miss out on the excitement!).

Fergus spent most of the meeting on the floor (we don’t have a pram so he’s used to being plonked on whatever surface is available) kicking and admiring the artwork on the walls. Janetta and I spent most of the meeting discussing terms of my publishing contract… I took along a long list of questions, many flagged by the Society of Authors (bless them!) and Janetta was fabulous in listening to all my questions and concerns. She’s taken away some of my requests to be discussed with the Contract Powers That Be, and she’s confident we’ll be able to sort out answers.

Vampires? Hah! Try meeting an ushi-oni "cow devil" in the middle of the night!

Vampires? Hah! Try meeting an ushi-oni "cow devil" in the middle of the night!

We also looked at an unbound proof for Takeshita Demons… Woo hoo! It looks great. Can’t wait to see the bound proofs!

Of course, nothing’s perfect: they got my name wrong in a couple of places (Cristy Byrne instead of Cristy Burne), but I’m entirely used to that. What would life be without a little trouble with your surname? (It’s ironic because Miku Takeshita, the hero of Takeshita Demons, has trouble with her surname too…)

…and Takeshita Demons II and III?
And the most exciting bit? Way back when I first met Janetta I asked her about the possibility of making Takeshita Demons part of a series. She said: “Interesting; send me a proposal” and I did. I did a heap of extra research into Japanese demons (called “yokai” in Japanese) and scared myself silly with some of the creatures that exist in Japanese mythology (vampires? hah! vampires don’t scare me anymore!!). Plus I brainstormed some cool story ideas and some ace new characters, and I spent ages plotting and re-plotting and thinking and re-thinking, and then I put it all into a proposal and sent it through.

The result? Janetta liked the ideas, and so do her sales team. Fingers crossed you’ll soon be hearing confirmation that the June 2010 Takeshita Demons will be the first of at least three scary children’s books in the Takeshita Demons series…

More soon…

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Babies, contracts, membership cards: It’s all happening

thinkingmanWhile I was sleeping: Baby life

The last few weeks have been a delicious haze of sleep deprivation, little fingers and toes, and all-permeating baby-milk smell. There have been trying times (you won’t eat, you won’t sleep and it’s 1am; repeat every three hours) and incredible times (watching Fergus figure out how to handle his head, watching him process new bits of this all-new world, watching his face crack into a smile). Plus there are fun bits: Bath time is hilarious…he goes all gooey and quiet and would float there all day if we let him.

It’s going quite well — screaming and massive poo spillage aside — and I feel we’re almost experts at this baby thing now.  (Just four weeks ago I’d never held a newborn and knew approximately two children, both of whom live in Switzerland).

What’s this in my mailbox? Publishing lifequestaconsciencecircus

In the last few weeks things have really heated up for Takeshita Demons. My publishing contract offer has arrived! I’m expecting to receive an edited version of the manuscript in today’s mail! And we’re planning to have proof copies of the book available for distribution at the Youth Libraries Group Conference in Warwick in early September ! Triple fantastic!

We’re also hoping (although it’s not yet confirmed) that I will be able to join a panel of Frances Lincoln authors at another conference in late September. This will be my first presentation as a fully fledged author: I can’t wait (I love presenting: I’ve spent years traveling Australia as a science presenter, including a year as part of a science circus!)(can you spot me in the photo?).

I can fly! I can fly! Authorly life

My membership card for the Society of Authors arrived this week…WOW! I’m being taken seriously as an author. This is a dream come true! And I can’t recommend joining the SOA enough: the advice they have offered on my contract (thank you!), the book store discounts (woo hoo!), the “members only” advice and fact sheets, plus the special interest groups (I’m a member of the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group and can’t wait to meet the other members at a future event!).

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Update from publisher land

Ōkubi by Toriyama Sekein c. 1779

Yesterday was my meeting with Janetta, my publisher, and all seems to be going well. She’d read my second-edit of the manuscript, loved some bits of it, didn’t like others. I’ve now turned it completely over to her for a thorough edit under the pen of experience.

I’m hoping that this combination of my “raw” storytelling and Janetta’s nose for what works and what doesn’t will lead to a super-duper manuscript that shines far brighter than anything I could’ve produced alone. I guess that’s the point of having an editor look over it, but still, it seems amazing that someone is actually reading my stuff and taking it seriously. Cool!

We talked contracts for a bit…I don’t have a literary agent so am feeling my way as I go.

I totally need to do some research (there are places to go for advice on publishing contracts…the Society of Authors for a start), but for now I’m 100% sidetracked by plotting and planning for a Takeshita Demons sequel. Janetta’s going to hold back on the contract stuff until I can get back to her with my proposal for a sequel (and beyond?)…Apparently it’s not normal for them to offer a multi-book deal, but a lot depends on the quality of the story/writing.

So I’m putting together a killer proposal, with gripping plots, evolving, likable characters, and the right mix of fun, fantasy and bizarre Japanese monsters…what could go wrong? Watch this space 🙂