I am absolutely thrilled to announce that my first children’s picture book, The Adventures of Henrietta Hedgekin, is published and available for purchase.
I want to thank everyone who has supported me and kept me going. The life of a writer is not always an easy one, and that confounded imposter syndrome is always lurking just around the corner. Having people to keep you on track and refuse to let you give up is so important.
The Adventures of Henrietta Hedgekin:Friendship is available for purchase from Austin Macauley, Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, and all good online stores across the globe.
I will be hosting a ‘Meet the Author’ event on June 8th at the Guille-Alles Public library. While in person space is limited, the event is going to be streamed live on my Facebook page. You can sign up for the live-stream by clicking on the button below.
Big things ahead. I’m going to be holding my first ‘Meet the Author’ event on June 8th at Guille-Alles Public Library in Guernsey.
As I live on a pretty small island in the middle of the English Channel, I know that the bulk of people won’t be able to make it in person. With this in mind, I will be live-streaming the event over on my Facebook page. If you would like to join us, click on the link below and select ‘Going’. This will send you a notification when things are about to go live.
The day is finally upon us.I am thrilled to be able to announce that The Adventures of Henrietta Hedgekin: Friendship will be available from April 28th, 2023.
I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this. It’s been my dream for so long, and to actually have it come to fruition is the best feeling in the world. It’s been a heck of a journey and I’ve learned so much along the way. There’s a lot more to publishing than just writing the story and getting it out there. There’s a lot of work that follows; from marketing to organising events. It’s amazing to think that every book you see on the shelf has gone through this process.
These days there is a lot of onus on social media and self-promotion. And I admit there have been times I’ve found myself muttering “Richard Scarry and Enid Blyton didn’t have to deal with this crap”. But it’s all worth it. You need to be adaptable to be in this game.
Speaking of events, I have a couple coming up. I will be hosting The Road to Gillyford on June 8th at Guille-Alles Library. Space is limited so if you want to attend in person, I have tickets available on Eventbrite.
For anyone who can’t get there in person, I will also be streaming it live on my FB page. It’s set for 7pm BST. I have it as a separate event to make things a bit easier. If you wish to attend from the comfort of home, got to The Road to Gillyford – Live event and select Going.
The Adventures of Henrietta Hedgekin will be available to buy from Amazon, Waterstones and all good book retailers. As well as direct from my publisher: Austin Macauley
I want to thank everyone who has supported me all these years and especially the last 2 years in making my dream a reality. I couldn’t have done this without you.
And before I forget. There are going to be some new additions to this website coming very soon so stay tuned!
This is it folks! The countdown to launch has begun.
I have been notified by my publisher that The Adventures of Henrietta Hedgekin: Friendship is due this March.
I am beyond excited. As anyone who has had to put up with me for the past few months will tell you. I want to thank everyone who has helped make this possible. All of you have kept me going when I wanted to give up.
This is going to be the first of many adventures for Henrietta. The second book, Goblin in the Garden, is already written, and book three isn’t too far behind. Henrietta’s fourth adventure is starting to take shape as well. All of these will introduce us to new and exciting characters. We may even learn a few things along the way.
Thank you for joining me on this amazing journey. Stay tuned for updates and events as I get them.
As you may have gathered from this article’s title, I’m going to talk about collective nouns. I love collective nouns. Writing is filled with stuffy grammar rules that no one really likes, and which were created by the gods of writing to torture and torment schoolchildren and adults alike for centuries to come. Collective nouns are one exception. These are words used to describe groups of things: People, animals; almost anything that can be in multiples. And while there are some well-known ones, a murder of crows, for example, there are no hard, fast rules. My theory on this is that the ancient writing ancestors were celebrating the yule festivities with a snifter of mead which help relax their normal stick-up-the-arse outlook. All of a sudden, Roger, the fun one of the group, produced a bag of dubious looking mushrooms. He offered them around to the to others who, not wanting to look like a bunch of squares, joined in.
And so began the creation of the collective noun. This is why we have such gems as ‘A congress of baboons’, ‘A parliament of owls’. and ‘A smack of jellyfish’. (Yes, that last one is real).
This is why I love collective pronouns. They are the rebels of the language. They are the cool uncle who sneaks you the beer at the family gathering; who catches you smoking and asks for a light instead of snitching to your parents. And the best part is, you can actually make up your own when you’re writing. It’s your world, your rules.
Just for fun, here are a few of my favourites:
A rhumba of rattlesnakes – I love the imagery.
A bike of bees – It might seem an odd one but actually comes from the old usage of bike to mean colony or nest.
A gang of elk – Every seen an elk up close? Yeah, you just stepped into the wrong neighbourhood.
A horde of hamsters – The Dwarfs of the rodent world
A flange of baboons – For when you don’t want to get political
These are a mere taster of what is out there. As you can see, there are often multiple terms for groups of things. The baboons have at least two. This is what’s great, you can pretty much come up with your own. Remember that language is a living, fluid entity. It grows, it evolves.
Curiously there is no real collective noun for a group of writers. Admittedly we are a fairly solitary bunch but on occasion, we do gather. And I think it’s time we had something semi-official at the very least. The most common one I see bounced around is ‘A procrastination of writers’. Rather apt as we are all guilty of it. What would be your suggestion for what to call ourselves?
Let’s speak about first drafts. Sorry to say it, but your first draft sucks. I think this might be one of the most misunderstood parts of writing for new and fledgling writers. You’ve completed your first draft but something isn’t right. It’s not the instant masterpiece you had envisaged. What’s going on?
Well it’s simple: It’s the first draft. It isn’t supposed to be perfect. The first draft is to get the building blocks, the bones of the narrative. I think it can be best summed up by a famous quote from Michelangelo (no, not the turtle):
The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.
That is what your first draft is; it’s your block of marble. Your job now is to start chipping away. Not with a hammer and chisel but with editing and revision. There isn’t an author alive or past that hasn’t had to do this. The illusion that the masters of our craft don’t do this is a common misconception and to be honest, I don’t know where it comes from. But the idea that we don’t get it perfect the first time is one that every writer has to get past in order to grow and have any kind of success.
It’s difficult. Our stories are more than just words to us. They are a part of us and it can feel like cutting off a limb when you have to go in hard with the red pen. This probably one of the most important parts of the process. There is no magic number to how many drafts you will need either. They will, however, get easier each time. The first Henrietta story, which is by no means a long epic tale, went through between 15 and 20 different versions before I submitted it.
The second Henrietta story is a good example of things you may have not thought of in the heat of getting those words down. There is a part where Amanda Moonstar stops a stampeding herd of cows by flying over them and releasing magical bedtime dust. I had the scene written and it looked great. I was happy with it and as actions scenes go, it was pretty awesome. Then one morning as I’m driving in to work a thought popped into my head. The way it was written simply wasn’t going to work. Even in a magical work, you have to account for physics, and dusting a stampede of frightened cattle from the front of the stampede is going to give end up with a very large and messy pile of cows. Why? Because the ones that get dusted first will also be the ones that fall asleep first. So begins the first major rewrite.
It was during this rewrite that I realised that there was also a disconnect between the start and the end. At no point had I mentioned the fact that the Gillyford festival was taking place. It suddenly got thrown in randomly in the middle. So back we go to the very beginning and another rewrite.
So know we are already on the third draft. This is how the process works. You will always miss things out in that first version. Or you will have extraneous parts that don’t add anything to story. They get in the way and will either bore or confuse your reader.
So don’t be disheartened when you’ve finished your story and find it’s not what you hoped for. This is your block of marble and now is the time to pick up the hammer and chisel to carve out the beautiful masterpiece that is inside. This is where the fun begins.
If there is one thing I struggle with more than anything else in writing, it’s naming my characters. I can’t explain it, I just get a mental block. With very few exceptions, I don’t think I’m ever fully happy with the names I give them. Sometimes it just falls into place like it did with Henrietta Hedgekin. BUT, what people don’t know (and I am about to reveal) is that originally, Ben was called Billy. I was about half way through the story when I decided to change it. Billy and Tilly just didn’t seem to work like I wanted it to. I mean, if you have twins, you’re unlikely to call them something like that, right? And yes, I get the irony in talking about realistic names in a book that includes a shapeshifting broom with with handlebars. It does kind of highlight the point though. In a world containing the fantastic, you need the regular, everyday things as well. If you do decide on a name change halfway through though, make sure you pay extra attention when your editing after the first draft. A find and replace function will help with what you’ve already written, but it won’t help with what is still to come. And after using the original for so long it is very easy to slip back without realizing.
So going back to coming up with names. I’m going to stick with Henrietta because it has a good blend of regular names and completely made up names. In fact, there is a naming convention that I decided to put in place which has helped a great deal. All the witches in this world have pretty regular first names. The magic comes from their surname. Hedgekin is a reference to being a Hedge Witch (I’ll let you guys look into that). In book 2 we meet Henrietta’s friend, Amanda Moonstar. Regular, everyday firstname; magical based surname. Having a convention such as this can be a huge help when world building. Remember, it’s your world and your rules.
The naming problem isn’t just a thing that plagues the rank amateurs like myself. And having a naming style is definitely nothing new. Probably the most famous comes from Marvel comics and from the late, great Stan Lee himself. Notice how many Marvel characters first and last names start with the same letter:
Peter Parker (Spider-Man)
Steven Strange (Doctor Strange)
Reed Richards (Mr Fantastic)
J Jonah Jameson (Oh come on!)
The reason behind this, as admitted by Stan Lee himself, is that he is terrible with names. Both coming up with and remembering. By creating a simple rule of having the first letters be the same, it makes the creation of names a lot simpler.
So the next time you’re struggling with naming characters in your WIP, try coming up with a naming style that works for you. Even if you only use it for that one story, it will make things a lot simpler and be one less hurdle to overcome.
To get 2022 off to a good start, I have a new entry over in Book Corner.
Mistress of Potions is a short story I wrote some time ago. It was intended to be part of a series of short stories set in the mystical world of Calindraal. As can sometimes happen, life had other ideas and the project never really got off the ground. Mistress is the only story that was ever written…for now that is. I may find myself revisiting the lands of Calindraal.
Just a short one today to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. It’s been a very difficult year for a lot of people so let’s all, just for one day, forget any differences, and just fill the world with kindness. Then next day maybe, just maybe, we could try doing it again.