Friday 4 January 2019

And so it begins ... Our Notes for You in 2019

There's no denying that every year is a roller coaster, and for every glowing review, there is always a crushing rejection. Published or not, the struggle goes on. And we all know that next year is not going to be any different. But we are Slushpilers and the one thing we must do is keep on keeping on.

So here we are in reverse alphabetical order, digging deep for some wisdom to share:


The author is on the right.

Teri Terry fans spent 2017 in the grip of her new thriller, Contagion, and then were rewarded with more tension with the publication of the second and third in the series, Deception and Evolution. A prequel to Teri's breakthrough novel Slated will be published in 2019: Fated.

All achieved while tending to the cutest cockapoo in the world.

Her fellow bloggers on Notes from the Slushpile are amazed that Teri has yet to use the perfect title based on her output: RELENTLESS. Congratulations, Teri!

Teri's advice for 2019:

It’s important to say yes sometimes, but even more important to get in the odd no: the trick is working out which is appropriate at a given moment. I’m still working on that.


In 2018, Em Lynas cheered up the world with two books Get Me Out of Witch School! and Help, I'm Trapped At Witch School!, published by Nosy Crow.

"I've loved doing my school visits and one of the biggest thrills has been seeing kids dressing up as Daisy Wart. Plus getting positive mail from kids and parents. And I joined @bookpenpals run by the fabulous Kate Scott and Sara O'Connor. And this year I'm working on a completely different magical feast which is a total secret to everyone (including me on some days)."

This is Em's thinking face.

Imagine your audience and ask: What do they want from you? What are you able to give them? Which emotion do you want to leave them with? How scared do you want them to be? Is that age appropriate? Is there something of 'them' in your story? What will they relate to? Will they bond with your characters? Why? Is the plot age appropriate? Will the story help them understand something about themselves? Will it make them think/create/play? Will your story stay with them? Why?


In 2018, Paula Harrison's thirteenth and fourteenth Rescue Princess books dazzled the shops – The Enchanted Ruby and The Star Bracelet. In 2019, she will be launching two new series for young readers. The first will launch this spring and the second in the autumn. She is currently working on a novel for middle grade readers with a great deal of mystery, enchantment and severe weather.

At SCBWI's yearly fancy dress party: Paula as a Unicorn. Kathy as a tardis. Typical.

Says Paula: "My one tip that's helped me as a writer in 2018 is...
Always expect the unexpected! Be open to new directions both in your story and in your writing journey. Change will come whether we're ready or not and it can really boost your creativity.

"... actually that sounds way too peppy ... Can I replace it with: Drink wine and take long naps. Your manuscript always reads better after one or the other."

(Fact check: Paula doesn't actually drink wine. So just take naps.)


Candy Gourlay had a banner 2018 with two books published, a novel, Bone Talk, and her first picture book, Is It a Mermaid?  Says Candy: "The best thing about 2018 was that with a picture book, I am at last being invited to speak to little people – and I LOVE IT!"

Here is Candy early in 2018, visiting a Kindergarten class in North London Collegiate School in Jeju, South Korea. After she finished reading to them, she asked, 'What shall we do now?' The boy in the middle shouted: "Let's be DINOSAURS!"

"With two books out, 2018 was a year of saying YES to everything, and I have to confess despite all the smiling selfies, it really took its toll.

Though I know I'm not going to slow down in 2019, I have decided to leave Facebook, which has been the core of my public life for many years (I explain why I'm leaving here and here). Apart from ethical concerns, I hope departing from its disposable, micro-blogging superhighway will make me creative in a more meaningful and lasting way. So that's my tip:
Whatever you do in 2019, MAKE IT MATTER.


In the summer of 2019, Addy Farmer published her fourth picture book, the sweetest rhyming space adventure you will read this year, A Place Called Home. What's on for 2019? "I'm working on an exciting project with a theatre, going picture-book mad and hoping for an agent to love my mid-grade novel enough to take it on."

... and here's Addy battling 92mph winds on the story mountain!

Top tip?
Make sure your story is well structured which may sound obvious but it's taken me some time to truly get to grips with plotting. After that, have a thematic backbone which you can always refer to and make sure that you're on track.


Rose among weevils or (according to them) Five Go Wild at Broughton Hall: Kathy poses with strange authors at the Broughton Hall Literary Festival. Left to right: Jamie Thomson, AF Harrold, Kathy, Ciaran Murtagh and Sam Gayton

For Kathryn Evans, 2018 was all about editing, events and sitting on news she’s still not allowed to talk about! In 2019  Beauty Sleep will be published, there are lots more events already scheduled and – fingers crossed – she can finally let the secrets out!

Kathy's top tip:

When you read over your work and a line sticks out , or a plot line hiccups, or your character is out of character, don’t ignore it. Something is wrong and you need to fix it, your instinct will probably be right so listen to it. If you’ve noticed it, so will other people, it’s not going to disappear. Put it right or It’ll bug you forever!

Nick Cross

Like the other Slushies, Nick Cross had a busy 2018. So busy! He wrote a YA novel, learnt to be an illustrator and designer, got to grips with lots of new software and even took a course in improv drama.

Nick's marker pen obsession grew to epic proportions in 2018

Somehow, he also managed to hold down a day job amongst all the creative madness, and his tech wizardry helped to launch dictionary websites for six languages he doesn't even speak: Greek, Quechua, Tajik, Telugu, Tok Pisin and Turkmen. But since millions of people worldwide do speak these languages, he's totally fine with that.

Photo by Marie Basting

To cap off a whirlwind year, Nick surprised everyone by bringing his illustrated YA novel Riot Boyyy to life for The Hook at the SCBWI-BI conference (read lots more about that here). What can he do in 2019 to top that? He's not sure, but he's damn well going to try!

Nick's top tip:
Write what you love. That may sound totally obvious, but for years I wrote what I thought would sell, and then none of it did. My new novel Riot Boyyy may not get traditionally published either, but at least I've made something awesome that I wholeheartedly believe in.

A happy, creative, productive if not painless 2019 to one and all! (And well done, congratulations and chocolates to the Slushpile team for another hardworking year!)


  1. We've got to keep an eye on Nick and marker pens! Happy new year, slushies ... and may 2019 smile on you!

    1. I've actually bought more since that photo was taken - I have about 80 now!

  2. Thank you, everyone. Here's to a wonderfully creative 2019 to everyone x


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