Showing posts with label Lit Fest 2011. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lit Fest 2011. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Last call for competition winners! - John Dougherty

Four of the winners of my LitFest 2011 competition haven't yet got in touch!

I think the errant four are Paul H, Denise, Kate, and Moogiesboy. If that's you, get in touch with [email protected] at once!

Please put 'ABBA Competition' in the subject line and say a) who you'd like your copies of Zeus on the Loose and Bansi O'Hara and the Bloodline Prophecy signed for and b) where you'd like them sent.

If we haven't heard from you by the end of August, we'll have to donate your prizes to a good cause...

(The other winners were Leah A, Madwippitt, Rosalind A, Linda, Elen C  and Linda S - see here for a fuller list of LitFest comp winners.) 

 Oh - and since I'm here, Zeus's latest adventure, Zeus Sorts It Out, is in the shops tomorrow!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Competition reminder! - John Dougherty

I hope you all enjoyed the LitFest at the weekend. I thought I'd use today's post to remind you about the competitions. Most of them are open until the 20th July, and you can see the full list by following this link

There are, so far, only 3 entrants for mine, and since there are 10 prizes the chances of winning are pretty high! All you have to do is come up with a witty title for an imaginary book about a god, Greek or otherwise.  

Winners will receive two signed books - Zeus on the Loose and Bansi O'Hara and the Bloodline Prophecy - both of which have sequels coming out in the next few months.

Post your suggestion in the comments, either to this post or the one linked here, where full rules can be found. Good luck!

And feel free to send your friends - and their children - in this direction as well. Make sure they check out all the competitions. Where else can you find so many free books - and have them signed?

Winners will be announced on Sunday 24th - come back to see if you've won!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The ABBAlitfest Story - Lucy Coats

More than 10,000 views later, I think I can safely say that the first-ever online children’s book festival has been a huge success. The Awfully Big Blog Adventure Online Literary Festival has been tweeted many hundreds of times, been splashed all over Facebook, been commented on, blogged about, and generally feted with praise and raised glasses.  All of us who took part—both organisers and bloggers—would like to say thank you to all of you who came, saw, and stayed for some or all of the 20 hour, 40 post duration--and to those of you who are STILL coming back to catch up with everything! It took a lot of hard work (and maybe even a tear or two) to get us here—and so we thought you’d like to know a bit about how it all came to pass....  

Back in the bleakness of mid-February 2011, Sam Mills mentioned that she’d seen a feature about an online literary festival in a newspaper, and suggested that The Scattered Authors could hold the first-ever online children's festival on our shared blog. Sam says:
“I worried the idea might be rubbish, so I was excited by the positive and enthused response. The festival was on!”
So The Awfully Big Blog Adventure Online Literary Festival was born.  It’s quite a mouthful. So we quickly shortened it to ABBAlitfest. Short, sweet, and easy on everyone’s typing fingers.  Sam then approached each author-blogger individually about doing something for the festival—even though she knew it would take many times as long as doing a group-mailing.
“Day after day, I shot off email after email. I was so pleased when the first authors I approached, Liz Kessler and Adele Geras, said YES and agreed to do giveaways. Soon I had 12 authors on board and I began to compose a timetable. By the end we had a grand total of 47 authors. All the pieces were of such good quality...I think that made the festival.”

While Sam was working her socks off, wrangling authors and posts into place (much like herding cats, some say), another piece of the festival jigsaw was quietly being put into place by Elen Caldecott, our new Blogmistress Supreme.  The old blog was looking a bit dated, so Elen volunteered to oversee and take on the huge task of creating a brand new blog look in time for our third blogoversary on 9th July.  Elen says:
“I was on a massive learning curve. I thought I knew how it would work, but with so much varied material, I had to think on my feet a bit. I know a lot more about Blogger now than I did before!”
Not only did Elen revamp the entire blog, she also had to contend with designing our very popular I ♥ ABBAlitfest blog button and pre-loading all the author posts which arrived in several neat email bundles from Sam (all very-time consuming).  What surprised her was how willing so many were to use technology to meet and interact with readers and other writers.
“Blogging, of course, but also making videos, both unheard of ten years ago! Writers are adapting well, I think. I came away very hopeful and inspired.”

So what did I do?  Well, since I seem to have acquired a reputation as a mistress of the dark arts of social networking, I was designated Publicity Campaign Director. I started the ABBAlitfest campaign 3/4 of the way through June, though the planning had been done long before. Like Sam, I sent out email after personal email (with press release attached)—to bloggers, newspapers, journalists, magazines, publishers, bookish organisations and bodies—anyone I thought might be interested in linking to us or writing about us, or generally spreading the word.  The response was immediate and incredible, and like Elen, I had a steep learning curve. 
I had to be disciplined (that this happened is possibly a small miracle), and very very focused. If I had a day or so off, my inbox exploded (the final email count was nearly 1000). There was a Twitter #ABBAlitfest hashtag and a Facebook Event Page to run—and the task of co-ordinating all the guest posts for the various wonderful bloggers who’d agreed to host our author-bloggers in the run up to the festival weekend.  On the weekend itself, I felt as if I was juggling about a million slippery batons at once—and dropping one was not an option!  I was glued to the computer screen almost permanently—cross-posting links to Twitter from two accounts, updating Facebook, retweeting, replying, reading posts (and checking they all appeared), watching videos, viewing our ever-rising visitor numbers with growing excitement—and living on Earl Grey tea and adrenaline. 

It’s been a rollercoaster ride into new realms for all of us Festival organisers, and we’ve learned lots of lessons along the way about how to run an online children’s book festival (and some about how not to!) . But I think it’s safe to say we’ve all enjoyed it hugely (most of the time).  And for those of you who asked immediately it ended if we’ll be doing it again next year...(for pity’s sake, people—could we not have had ONE day to recover!!)...well, the answer is probably yes.  Maybe. If you twist our arms a bit and give us chocolate.  We’ll, er, keep you posted!  

Lucy's website
Lucy's blog
Lucy on Twitter

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Happy Lit Fest for this year!

Well, the Lit Fest has drawn to an end for this year. We've had some fantastic moments - Anne and Mary discussing Italy, Candy's advice on writing a legend and John's song were worth the entry fee alone. Wait! There was no entry fee? Well, that just makes it even better!

All the posts will be archived and can be accessed either by clicking the button to the right, or by using the labels.

Don't forget the fabulous giveaways. Most of the competitions will run until the 20th July. View the complete list to see what you can win.

It's been a great way to celebrate our third birthday. Thank you for joining us. Same place, same time next year? Well, perhaps!

Best Wishes,
The ABBA Team.

Finding History and Herstory - N M Browne

What's the Point of Twitter? - Lynne Garner

Once you’ve had a book published you soon realise you need to learn marketing skills. There are many ways to market your work and perhaps the easiest is Twitter. If you’ve not heard of Twitter it is a free social networking site. You can tweet as often as you wish, you follow other members and they follow you which hopefully creates a fan base. A tweet is a comment of 140 characters or less, also making this is a great way to hone your writing skills.

Some authors are using Twitter as a tool to prove they can write by creating ‘Twisters.’ Although I’ve not discovered any children’s writers doing this I have found a few who write for adults, for example:

A competition and a composition - John Dougherty

First, the competition! I'm no good at getting people excited about competitions - I tend to sound like an over-heated 1970s Radio 1 DJ - but I suppose I ought to make the effort, so here goes...

Thanks to those lovely people at Random House Children's Books, you can win one of 10 prizes of 2 books each, and you can even have them signed by the author - me! - if you'd like. The two books are:

Zeus on the Loose
When Alex makes a cardboard Temple of Zeus in school, he doesn't expect the god himself to turn up, pinch his mum's nightie, and try to re-run the Trojan War in the school playground...

"Whether you're a Greek god or a mere mortal, you should read these wonderful books. They're hilarious!" - Andy Stanton, author of Mr Gum

 Zeus on the Rescue is also available, and Zeus Sorts it Out - in which Zeus meets the bullying Eric Lees, and decides it's either twelve labours or a good old-fashioned smiting - will be published on August 4th.

Bansi O'Hara and the Bloodline Prophecy
Bansi O'Hara is about to discover two very important facts. Firstly, she has faerie blood running through her veins. Secondly, the faeries want it back...

"A fantastic fantasy - I would challenge anyone not to enjoy this fabulous book" - Anorak magazine

"Skilfully balances real thrills and chills with wonderful knockabout humour" - John Newman in Publishing News

The sequel, Bansi O'Hara and the Edges of Hallowe'en, will be published on September 1st.

So, what do you have to do to win? Well, I'd like you to think about Zeus on the Loose, and see if you can come up with a title for an imaginary book about another god - Greek or otherwise. Post it in the comments to this post by July 20th to be in with a chance of winning!

Points will be given for:
  • amusingness (potentially but not necessarily including use of rhyme)
  • originality
  • inventiveness
and at the whim of the judge (me!).

You can enter as many times as you like, but there'll be only one prize per entrant unless you can give me a jolly good reason for bending that particular rule. The winners will be announced in the comments section on or shortly after July 20th. Good luck!

And now, the composition. I'm a late addition to the star-studded line-up at the festival, and here's a little something I've thrown together - written in a bit of a hurry, and recorded live in a single take in my kitchen, using my laptop camera and mic. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for listening. My name's John Dougherty. Goodnight!

What the Dickens? - Sue Purkiss

I recently found myself reading a book I hated. Normally, I would have ditched it after a few pages – but this was for a book group, and moreover it was by an author whose work I normally enjoy and admire.

It didn’t get any better. In fact by the end of it, I disliked it so much that I felt the need to reach for an antidote. I wanted something guaranteed to restore my faith in fiction. I took a deep breath and reached for Great Expectations.

WIN: The Undrowned Child - Michelle Lovric

I am offering three copies of The Undrowned Child paperback as a competition prize.

The question to answer is ‘Which Queen’s face do we see in The Undrowned Child video trailer on Youtube?’

The first three people to email me via my website with the right answer (plus their name and address) will be sent a copy.

The Happy Book - Malachy Doyle

The Happy Book, my new picture book from Bloomsbury was published on May 3. I only wrote it 6 years ago, it's only 48 words long, but it's out there at last. Yaay!

Back in 2005, I came across an old Swedish proverb:

'Fear less, hope more,
Whine less, breathe more,
Talk less, say more,
Hate less, love more
And all good things will be yours.''

Arvon Writing Course - Linda Strachan and Cathy MacPhail

A fantastic opportunity to hear award winning authors Linda Strachan and Cathy MacPhail discussing a lively week tutoring an Arvon Foundation writing course at Moniack Mhor in Inverness-shire.

Linda Strachan’s best selling Hamish McHaggis series has delighted her young fans, who are already looking forward to the 10th book in the series which will be coming out in 2012.
Turning her hand to gritty realism, from joyriding to knife crime, the award winning, Spider was followed by the equally edgy Dead Boy Talking
Linda’s writing handbook, Writing For Children is an excellent guide for new and aspiring writers.

 Cathy MacPhail's  journey began with Run Zan Run, and to her delight the brand new edition is coming out in November 2011.
She won a radio short story competition with Another Me and just couldn't let it go, she had to write the novel - and now it's going to become a film.
Out of The Depths, coming out this November is the first in Cathy’s new Tyler Lawless series – not to be missed.

WIN: An Inspiring Giveaway - Karen Ball

When a blog celebrates its birthday and launches a new-look website, you know it’s time to celebrate. Thanks to the Literary Gift Company, we’re able to share the party with our readers. Normally, we use our ABBA blog posts to pontificate on whatever literary subject we fancy, being gloriously self-indulgent and – we hope – entertaining as well as informative. But today we’re busy eating cake and popping balloons, so we thought we’d pass the baton to you, our readers.

Creating A Legend - Candy Gourlay

Thank you for coming to the Awfully Big Blog Adventure Online Festival! I'm the 4pm act and I'm very pleased to welcome you to my little session on Creating a Legend in Your Own Time!

Visit the Tall Story website
Art by Sarah McIntyre
In my novel Tall Story, I sewed in myths and legends from the Philippines and elsewhere to add magic to the story of Bernardo, a boy who is eight feet tall.

In the Philippines where I was born, legends were a way of ordinary people explaining the often unexplainable forces of nature around them - the volcanoes, earthquakes, the strange shapes of mountains, caves, the existence of plants and other creatures.

A lot of Filipino folk stories are handed down in the oral tradition - grown ups telling children stories, and the children growing up to tell the stories to their own children.

And every time a story is told, the teller adds his own spin to the story, so the story is always changing. It's a very exciting process!

In the video, I tell The Legend of the Bellybutton - as imagined by me and a group of children at the Hay Literary Festival after a hilarious brainstorming session.
Photo by Another Sergio
(Creative Commons Attribution)

It was just one of many legends we made up in that hour we spent together. We had great fun - we must have written 20 legends in one hour!

It's easy! And it's so much fun!

1st Choose something to make a legend about. It can be anything at all! 

eg. The Legend of the Nose

Thanks to Jon-Eric Melsæter on Flickr
(Creative Commons Attribution)

2nd Decide how things used to be. 

eg. People didn't have Noses. So they couldn't smell anything. So they didn't enjoy eating because they couldn't smell food. And they thought flowers were boring because they couldn't smell how lovely they were. And they themselves smelled bad because they couldn't smell themselves.

People became very grumpy

3rd Something happens to bring your something about!

eg. Someone tripped and grew a bump on their face. Then tripped again and got holes in the bump. And then discovered that they could smell food and flowers (they also began to wash). And everyone became so jealous they went out and accidentally on purpose tripped over too!

And that is why we have noses!

Thanks to Bazusa on Flickr (Creative Commons Attribution)

If you're a teacher or a librarian and you fancy creating legends with your own posse of children, check out my Legend in Your Own Time download on my website!

Thank you!

Other downloads you might enjoy:

Find out about me on and my blog,
And more about Tall Story and the Philippines on

Books for Boys and Girls - Marie-Louise Jensen and David Calcutt

David Calcutt is the author of Shadow Bringer and Map of Marvels.
Marie-Louise Jensen is the author of The Lady in the Tower and Sigrun’s Secret.


What were the elements that appealed particularly to you in the books you read as a boy?

I liked mystery and adventure, magical and sinister happenings and characters. I looked for a sense of timelessness that was beyond the narrow confines of my own world, which I later came to discover was the mythic, which I believe is the centre of all true stories. A certain poetry, which was to do with the sheer joy and inventiveness of language. I liked books about animals - "Tarka the Otter" has always been a favourite. I liked books with dogs in.

WIN: The Island of Thieves - Josh Lacey

The Island of Thieves is my new book, published in July. I'm offering a signed copy of the book as a prize to anyone attending the SAS Online Festival.

The Island of Thieves is the story of Tom Trelawney, a boy who goes to stay with his uncle in London, but ends up on a wild adventure in Peru.

They're on the trail of a magnificent treasure, but they only have one clue, a single page from a manuscript. To find the treasure, they'll have to track down the rest of the manuscript - and escape the ruthless criminal who is also on the treasure's trail.

Video Interview with Keren David and Fiona Dunbar

WIN: 'Caddy's World' - Hilary McKay

Caddy's World is the latest in the acclaimed Casson family series by Hilary McKay.

Hilary McKay revisits the Casson family, but this time with a difference ...
Go back in time ... Caddy is 12, grappling with school, best friends, first boyfriends, younger siblings and the unexpected arrival of one baby Permanent Rose who has arrived in the world a little sooner than expected. While baby Rose lies in critical condition in hospital, life goes on in the unpredictable, colourful Casson household ...

The Flamingo and the Writer - Joan Lennon

These big birds and children’s authors - what do we have in common?

Is it that both groups are leggy, prone to pink and spectacularly ridiculous-looking? Speaking as a short-legged pink-hater who can only dream of looking spectacularly anything, I’d say no. Is it that people tend to look at us strangely when they meet us at parties? Perhaps, though I can’t remember the last time I encountered a flamingo at a rave. Or, indeed, the last time I went to one myself.

300 Words to Unputdownable - Leila Rasheed (inc competition)

Here’s the thing: it isn’t that hard to get an editor or an agent to read your unsolicited submission. What’s hard is getting them to read beyond the first paragraph. Lack of time and the sheer number of manuscripts they receive mean that they will reject a submission as soon as it loses their attention.

Your challenge as a writer is to grab that attention and hold it. You have to make them think: “I must read on.”  - the sooner, the better. My theory is that you can do it in under 300 words. Sound impossible? Read on.

My Favourite Bears - Julie Sykes (inc competition)

I’ve always loved bears. It’s hardly surprising as my first ever possession was a teddy bear. His name was Pink Ted, no prizes for guessing what colour he was! 

Pink Ted went everywhere with me until finally I loved him to pieces. Poor Pink Ted, he left me for that Great Bear Cave in the Sky many years ago now. I still miss him but luckily my daughter lets me borrow Bear Bear, her own treasured friend, when I’m in need of a bear hug.
I love reading about bears too and there are many brilliant book bears. Here are a few of my favourites - in no particular order: