Thursday 1 December 2016

A Silly Tale From the Slushpile by Em Lynas

Em Lynas as The Author
Many publishers as The Acquisitions Monster
Candy Gourlay as The Internet Fairy
Amber Caraveo as The Agent Angel
The Nosy Crow Team as The Awesome Publishing Guru

Once upon a time there was an author tip tapping away in a lonely garret writing rubbish. Total rubbish - but funny rubbish. Over many years, as her slushpile grew, so did the rejections and eventually she developed SYMPTOMS. Nervous tics, blank stares, twitching fingers and, worst of all, doubt.

The author was diagnosed with REJECTIONITISS and was told by doctors, consultants, charlatans and quacks that nothing could be done. She was doomed to continue writing piles and piles of funny rubbish: an authorial version of Sisyphus pushing words down the page instead of boulders up the hill. But in her case the punishment was really unfair as, unlike Sisyphus, she hadn't been at all crafty or deceitful and was not remotely royal.

After a particularly disappointing and traumatic attack brought on by a rather upsetting rejection from the Acquisitions Monster the author cried, 'Alas and alack,' into the void that is the internet, 'Who has the cure for my affliction? Who can help me spin my enormous pile of slush into golden words of story?'

Suddenly, the Internet Fairy answered and flickering words appeared on the darkness of the screen. 'I have the answer,' typed the fairy, 'but what will you give me in return?'

The author recoiled in surprise and wondered what the googlegiant was up to now. Fearing for her first born daughter and not quite sure how far she would go to pursue her writing dreams, she tentatively typed, 'What do you want?'

The fairy replied. 'I shall give you what you need. In return you must agree to three things.'

'Three?' said the author, who now worried for her second born son, and her very supportive husband.

The fairy typed.
One:  Most important of all - You must enter THE LEARNING CURVE OF STEEPNESS.
Two: You must agree to embrace technology.
Three: You must agree to spend hours and hours on social media.

Relieved that the Internet Fairy did not wish to suck the souls of her loved ones the author said, 'It's a deal. Now, give me the answer!'

Words appeared. 'You must join The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Follow the Blue Link.'

The author's fingers twitched over the keys. This could be the cure! This could be life changing. But, she might have to talk to other authors. She might have to reveal her rubbish. She might have to leave the garret!

She pressed the button.

The End

The Beginning - In Which The Author Has Her Eyes Opened.

The author obeyed the Internet Fairy, joined SCBWI and received a reality check. Achieving publication was going to be hard. The LEARNING CURVE OF STEEPNESS was slippery. It loomed over her.

'I fear this may take some time,' said the author, leaning back in her writing chair. She stopped rushing, she settled down, she embraced the CURVE and began to crawl up it with the assistance of her new found friends in SCBWI. She attended SCBWI events. She volunteered for SCBWI networks. She entered SCBWI competitions. She won! She met with authors, agents, editors and experts.

Occasionally, the REJECTIONITISS symptoms returned, especially doubt. This usually presented as the author's head banging down onto the desk and a cry of, 'Why am I still doing this! Is there no escape!' After a while the answer always came back. 'Because it's fun. Because it's what you do. Because it would be weird not to.'

So the author continued and the pile of slush continued to grow but sometimes there was the glint of gold in the slush and the author pulled out the threads and began to weave them into story using her own voice. Her voice became louder and more comfortable, easier to find, easier to listen to. It spoke to her. In her head. She feared for her sanity but if she was insane then so were her SCBWI friends because they heard voices too. Or so they said.

Then one day she won another SCBWI competition. A Slushpile Challenge.

The judge, The Agent Angel, rang. 'I love the Voice! I love the story! What else have you got?'

The author glanced at her pile of glinting slush and hesitated. Which to Pitch? 'I have a Witch School Story,' she said and launched into an elevator pitch. 'Twinkle's dumped at Witch School but she's an actress, not a witch, and she must escape in order to perform her Bottom. It's a big part.'

'Send it,' said The Angel Agent.
'Love it!' said The Angel Agent.
'Let's team up!' said The Angel Agent. So they did.
'Let's edit!' So they did.
'Let's submit!' So they did.

They submitted to multiple publishers and soon The Agent Angel got in touch. 'Leave the garret. Come to London. We're meeting the publishers.'

Publishers! thought the author. That's a plural. That's exciting! She booked her tickets and fussed over what to wear because a good book deal always depends on the right scarf and a good haircut.

The author and The Agent Angel went from publisher to publisher. 'We love the VOICE!' said the publishers. The author was shy. 'Thank you,' she said as she nibbled on many cakes and biscuits, although secretly she was very impressed with the plate of handmade witchy cupcakes. Soon she settled down. It was fun. People liked her work. They wanted her book. Everyone was so lovely. It was weird.

'Now, we go home and wait for the deals to come in,' said The Agent Angel, as they parted.

It seemed like a long time to the author, who kept as busy as she could, but it really wasn't. By the time the cupboards were tidy, the house was spotless, the ironing done, the garden sorted, the tip visited and the shopping put away, the deals arrived.

'Pick one,' said The Agent Angel.

So the author did. It was an easy choice. She thought of the handmade witchy cupcakes, that editor really wanted her book, she'd baked!. That was beyond brilliant. Plus there was lots of other amazing stuff in the contract about royalties and marketing plans. It was an excellent deal. So the author happily signed with the Awesome Publishing Gurus.

The End

But of course it isn't the end...'s Another Beginning

The Awesome Publishing Gurus will now play their part. The book will be edited. The book will be published. The book will be shouted about, sold, and read. 

The author will write. 


Who now has a 3 BOOK DEAL! with the awesome Nosy Crow. Announced here in The Bookseller. 

This is really my way of saying a huge thanks to everyone in and out of SCBWI who has ever helped me and especially to my lovely agent Amber Caraveo for falling in love with Daisy/Ohphelia/Twinkle's Voice x 

The Awesome Publishing Guru team was comprised of Kate Wilson, Kirsty Stansfield (cake maker) and Catherine Stokes. Thank you! 


  1. A lovely story. Congratulations.

    1. I couldn't agree more..I am so impressed that you can juggle ;)

  2. Thanks, Elaine. There have been so many people to thank over the years!

  3. Oh Maureen - it's wonderful xx

    Who's your ed at Nosy Crow?

    1. Patch Pan is Jan Carr's sewing ego! Forgot I was on Chrome!

    2. I wondered who you were! My editor is Kirsty Stansfield.

  4. Aww thanks for casting me in your story which is really three stories and the third is only just beginning! I remember the first time I read something of yours - was it at the conference critique? Or was it on the online critique? The one about gurning! I loved it so much and thought this person is really gonna go places. And here you are now! Congratulations!

    1. xxx Haha! That was a long time ago, Gurner is in the cupboard waiting his turn, I haven't dared mention him to Amber yet! I think you read it on the online crit group and then we split into smaller groups. I remember reading some really impressive stuff before we split and I think you read Florence and the Meanies for me too.

    2. It was definitely a stand out!

  5. I've always loved stories with a happy ending. Wonderful.

    1. Especially the happy ending with a 'to be continued...'

  6. Happy/funny ever after! Brilliant post, brilliant news, brilliant you.

  7. Maureen, you played a huge part in my decision to join SCBWI when we met at Arvon, a decision I've never regretted! Inspirational then and inspirational to this day, I am so, so thrilled and delighted that your very deserved publishing moment has come. It couldn't have happened to a more lovely person. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! :)

    1. Aw, thanks Liz x Arvon was a defining moment for me. Hearing people laugh at my writing (in a good way!) was amazing. We both met some fantastic people who've become firm friends. We should do it again x

  8. Congratulations - so very happy for you!!!!
    Celebrations next week!

  9. Congratulations, Maureen, this is SO SO SO WELL DESERVED! Kate xxx

    1. Thanks, Kate xxx It feels a bit weird to have actually done it!

  10. So many congratulations, Maureen! What a lovely story. And now we share the world's loveliest cake-baking editor.

    1. She is lovely isn't she. I felt so comfortable with the team straight away, it really is awesome when publishers quote your book's funny bits at you!

  11. Brilliant. Both the blogpost and the happy ending xxx

  12. So pleased to read this Maureen. Great to hear such good well deserved news!


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