Monday 10 August 2015

Surviving the Slushpile

A note from Candy Gourlay: Dear Slushpile Readers, we are so pleased to introduce you to our latest acquisition on Notes from the Slushpile, the swashbuckling and most divine, soon to be bestselling YA author, Kathryn Evans aka @mrsbung. Kathy has long been a fellow journeywoman on the rocky road to publication and we are thrilled that her novel More of Me is going to be published next year by Usborne. Kathy likes to say she's a farmer's wife but she does a lot more than wifery on that farm, I can tell you. The KidLit world doesn't know what's about to hit it ... we're all going to be hearing a lot about Kathy very soon.  

By Kathy Evans

Oh. My. Gosh. I have been invited to join the blogging team at Notes From the Slushpile. This is better than:
Mmm, coffee cake...

And all manner of other lovely things, including SLEEP, which is one of my most favourite things to do. Why so, I hear you ask?

Just over five years ago I guest blogged for NFTS, you can see how giddy I was about it all then.
I am STILL that giddy. This blog meant a great deal to me when I was serving my time on the slush pile – it was a comforting place to go for tips and insights. A place of hope. A place to dream. And I had a lot of time for dreaming. Fifteen-ish years of it – the internetty web thing barely existed back then, blogging was in its infancy, but Notes from The Slushpile had a fan base and amongst the fans was me. So much so that when I met Candy at my first SCBWI conference, I sort of pounced on her and made her be my friend.

It may also have been at that conference that I first heard the maxim:

It takes 10,000 hours of practise to become an expert.

I may have scoffed, being about 987 hours in at that stage, I probably thought I’d done enough.

What a twit I was.

 I think I passed the 10,000 hour mark in 2010 and it took me another four years to get my first deal – maybe I’m a slow learner. Still, I did learn, and some quite useful stuff too. Stuff I’d like to share with you.  Particularly if you’re at around the 987 hours mark – how should you fill the next 9013?

  •       Read. There are SO MANY great books out there and if you read a lot, and are a little bit lucky, you’ll absorb some of that greatness.
  •        Listen. If you sign up for critique, get feedback from an agent or an editor, or even hear your own inner critic – listen. The chances are they, or you, are at least partly right – whether it’s positive or negative – ignoring good, constructive criticism could stop you making your book the best it can be.
  •      Write. There is no way round this one. Treat writing like a job, set yourself targets. Make no excuses, just get on with it.
  •       Be patient. More of Me, my debut, is actually the fourth YA novel I’ve written. The  FOURTH. I think of those other books as my intern years – I needed to write them to learn how to write More of Me.
And finally:

  •       Don’t despair. Rejections happen, they’re par for the course.  We all get them, I could paper a room with mine. But do take every tiny bit of encouragement as a positive – a personal note on a rejection or an invitation to resubmit – these are your first glimmers of gold. Keep mining.

 Every hour of these things counts towards your 10,000 hours of practise but there’s one more thing I want to add:
  Be nice.

I used to think I was rubbish at networking, I have no idea how to work a room of bigwigs, I always end up chatting to the waitress and getting a tiny bit too drunk. You know what though, it doesn’t seem to matter, if you’re nice, genuinely nice, people will want to help you. So get on Facebook and Twitter, join SCBWI, go to events and have fun with other children’s book people.

You may as well share those practise hours with some of the nicest people in the world.

SCBWI YA Critique 2010


  1. Great post, Kathy. Welcome to the team!

  2. Congratulations! I can understand why you are thrilled. I shall look forward to your posts.

  3. Hurrah, Kathy is here!
    ...but why are there no photos of your kittens in this blog? I can't start writing without kittens *heads for the internet* *oh yeah, I'm already here*

    1. Kittens are coming! Altought kittens are right now batting the screen curser...

    2. a laugh a minute! I'm sure I need kittens
      *thinking of the procrastination value*

    3. You definitely need kittens!

  4. Lovely post Kathy, and congratulations on the soon to be published More of Me - exciting times!

  5. Was it really 2010! TIme disappears when you get you deal! Can't wait to hold that book in my hands and then join the long queue to get it signed!!!

  6. Thanks all - it's such an honour to be here!

  7. So thrilled to have you join the team, Kathy!

  8. Congratulations Kathy, I look forward to reading your posts :)

  9. Hooray for Kathy! And a huge welcome!

  10. Great post Kathy! I think your final tip is so important, and one that is not adhered to often enough by fellow writers. We all need to support each other, and being kind is such a key part of this. I am so thrilled that your book has found a publisher, and so excited about getting to read it as soon as it hits the shelves. Until then I'll enjoy your blog posts here!

  11. The niceness point is a good one, and it's something that circles back to my post from last week. There's so much mean-spirited selfishness in the world - why add to that when you don't have to? It's nice to be nice :-)

  12. It IS nice to be nice. For the record, you lot are very nice. Kindness and niceness, cake and wine - planet sorted.

  13. Congratulations Kathy, a deal and a Slushie!

  14. Yay, Kathy! Hitting the big time all round - well-deserved and you are the poster-girl for how to be nice

  15. Hee hee- I try! Not sure about the big time but I'm enjoying this particular 'up' immensely.


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