Ep 288 Writing competitions you should enter. And meet Megan Daley, author of ‘Raising Readers’.

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In Episode 288 of So You Want To Be A Writer: Meet Megan Daley, author of Raising Readers. Val and Al share writing competitions you should enter. Plus, we have 10 double passes to Apollo 11 to give away. All that and more in this week’s episode.

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Show Notes

Competitions You Should Enter

Andy Griffiths Kids Writing Competition (FOR KIDS)

Buzz Words Short Story Prize (A story for kids 8-12 written by adults)

Furious Fiction

Writers in Residence

Megan Daley

Megan Daley is passionate about children’s literature and sharing it with young and old alike. In daylight hours, Megan is a teacher-librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School and was recently awarded the Queensland Teacher Librarian of the Year by the School Library Association of Queensland, as well as the national Dromken Librarians Award, presented by the State Library of Victoria. A former national vice-president of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, she is on the Queensland chapter of the board of the Australian Children’s Laureate and on the Publications Committee of the National Library of Australia. She also thinks sleep is overrated.

Megan’s first book, Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books, was recently published by the University of Queensland Press.

Follow Megan on Twitter

Follow University of Queensland Press on Twitter

(If you click the link above and then purchase from Booktopia, we get a small commission. This amount is donated to Doggie Rescue to support their valuable work with unwanted and abandoned dogs.)

Competition

“One small step…” WIN ‘Apollo 11’ tickets

This podcast is brought to you by the Australian Writers’ Centre

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Valerie Khoo

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Interview Transcript

Allison

Megan Daley is passionate about children’s literature and sharing it with young and old alike. In daylight hours, Megan is a teacher-librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School, and was recently awarded the Queensland Teacher Librarian of the Year by the School Library Association of Queensland, as well as the National Dromkeen Librarian’s Award presented by the State Library of Victoria. Try saying that quickly. She clearly thinks sleep is overrated, because Megan’s first book, Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books, was recently published by the University of Queensland Press.

So welcome to the program, Megan Daley.

Megan

Thank you so much for having me.

Allison

Now I also need to fully disclose that Megan and I know each other very well. We are both admins of the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community. But beyond that, we are friends and have known each other for quite some time. So I’m very excited about having you here with your first book.

And I think it’s fair to say that you’ve always considered yourself to be a reader, not a writer.

Megan

Absolutely.

Allison

And yet, here you are with your first book. How did your publishing deal come about?

Megan

Well, it’s a bizarre one. I have been reviewing the work of other people for a very long time now on my blog Children’s Books Daily because I have always been a reader. My mother is also a teacher-librarian and I grew up as a reader and I was a primary school teacher, always with the intention of becoming a teacher-librarian. And then I started my blog and I got very involved in the Children’s Book Council of Australia for some time. And just became enamoured with the world of children’s and young adult writing.

So I was reviewing people’s work all over the place. On my blog. And I was starting to do a little bit of speaking around the place in Brisbane, where I live, about children’s books.

At one of the events that I spoke at – I call it the worst even I’ve ever done in my life, because the venue had clearly forgotten to advertise that I was coming. And the other events I’d done in that week had between 60 and 80 people at them, and this one had about four. And one of those people that was there was Kristina Schulz from UQP, someone I have admired for a very, very long time. And I was absolutely mortified she was there. Because it was like a conversation for an hour. And it was… It just was awful.

Anyway, at the end of the worst event I have ever done in my life, Kristina came up to me and she said, have you ever thought about writing a book? And I said, no. I just looked at her and said, no. I have not.

Allison

Categorically, no.

Megan

I said, no. I actually can’t write. And she said, well, actually you can write. You write a blog. And I said, yes. And I have apostrophes flying all over the place.

Actually, I wonder if Val and I would actually get on. Because I know she loves an apostrophe. And my technique with apostrophes, Allison Tait, is to sort of throw them at the screen and hope that a few of them will land in the right spot.

Allison

The flying apostrophe.

Megan

Yeah. And I have a dear friend, Dr. Lyndal O’Gorman, who I regularly get a text message from. And it will just be like a, I give up on you, you’re hopeless. Or it’ll just be an apostrophe. And that means she’s read my blog or something I’ve written somewhere and the apostrophes are just all out of whack. And it’s then a hunt for me to find where they’re meant to be.

So I just said to Kristina, oh no, I don’t write. I just review the work of other people. I couldn’t possibly write. And that was how the conversation ended.

But over the next six months, she kept contacting me. And we had coffee a few times. And she said, I really think you should write… I want you to write a book. She said, I want to publish your book. I want your teacher-librarian brain in a book.

And I just kept saying no. And I was tossing up doing a PhD around the time. And my dad, who is an academic said, he didn’t really want to do another PhD, which I thought was very rude. Because I fully intended doing it myself.

And my husband was like, oh, you know, I’d just finished my masters, he’s like, really?

And then Rebecca Sparrow said to me, a good friend of mine is author Rebecca Sparrow and she said to me, you know, if you don’t write this book for UQP they’re going to get someone else to do it, and then you’ll be really unhappy with it.

And I think at about that point I was like, ugh. So I remember saying to Kristina, look, I think it’ll be… I don’t know if I can do it, but I’m going to give it a go. And so I signed on the dotted line and Dan witnessed it for me and off we went.

Allison

Fantastic. All right, so we’re going to come back to your book in a little moment and the writing of the book, but I actually want to go back to your blog, because that’s where this all started. ChildrensBooksDaily.com. Fantastic place, full of reviews and all sorts of exciting things. And I think you would agree that you wouldn’t have written a book without it. Had you not started that blog, had you not started reviewing, had you not put yourself out there a bit with speaking and stuff like that, the book would not have happened.

So why did you start the blog in the first place?

Megan

Well, I had been doing reviews for the Children’s Book Council of Australia just incidentally, in Reading Time and just around the place. And I had been speaking a little bit when I was the National Vice President of the Children’s Book Council of Australia and I was the Queensland President.

I was enjoying reviewing the books of other people. And a really good family friend of mine, who is Belgian, he said to me one day in his lovely Belgian accent, you should be owning all of these reviews in the one spot rather than having them all over the place.

And my brother had just passed away and I wasn’t sleeping. And I was up all night and I was grief-stricken. And he said, I’m going to put a blog together for you and put all of your reviews there. And that will fill in the night-time hours. And it did.

And I honestly from the first time I posted my first review on my blog, and I’m sure nobody read it, I just loved it. It just felt, and it still feels, like I am just having a conversation with myself. I mean, look, it’s in some ways a self-indulgent thing to do, to blog. I’m really just talking about books I adore. But I just so enjoy it. I can do it and it doesn’t feel like – well, it isn’t work. I just so enjoy the discipline of it. I enjoy how regularly you need to update a blog.

And then I’m gobsmacked when someone stops me in the street and says, are you Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily? And I’m like, oh wow! Do you read my blog? That’s so great!

I just find it astonishing that people read it. And I really enjoy it. I just love it.

Allison

Well, I mean a lot of people read it. Let’s face it. You’ve got a huge community built over time. When did you start the blog? How many years have you been doing it?

Megan

About seven years.

Allison

Yeah, okay. And this great community has grown up around it. And of course the Your Kid’s Next Read group is an offshoot of it. And this huge thing that’s sort of happening. Do you think that blogging helped you to find your writing voice? Have your posts changed over the years? Or are they basically the same?

Megan

Oh my gosh, absolutely. Absolutely. I just upgraded my website because the content got too big and I had to upgrade it. And looking back at really old posts I… And I didn’t actually delete a lot of them.  I deleted a few that just weren’t relevant anymore. But looking back, I just almost cringe when I look at my really, really early writing. It was… Yes, I’ve definitely found my voice. And my book wouldn’t exist without the blog.

But the other thing I would say is that my blog has informed the book. I mean, the blog is so much a part of the book because a blog is a conversation. And yes, it’s a conversation really with myself. But it’s a very conversational tone, my blog. And my book, I think, is a similar feel. It’s slightly more, it’s a bit more polished, I suppose, the book. But the blog has very much made me aware that I can write the way I speak, which is a lot, fast, and in a conversational tone.

Allison

Yeah, which is actually the key. I mean, it’s one of the reasons why I often talk about when you’re trying to find your writing voice, blogging is a great way to do it. Because it requires a certain amount of intimacy and yet a certain amount of detachment. So it’s actually a great way to find where your voice sits within that.

And the other thing I always think that blogging teaches you that is a great and wonderful thing for writing is discipline. Particularly like you’ve been doing it for seven years. And I know you blog regularly. On and off, there have been patches where you have not done as much. But overall, you’re putting up posts very, very regularly. The discipline of that, what has that taught you as far as when it came to getting your book done?

Megan

I just had to sit down and do it. And I’m still like that with the blog now. As you know, and I think we’ll talk about, my life is very different these days. But I know now that – and I say this to the kids at school and to my own eleven year old daughter who is not disciplined with sitting down and doing her homework – you actually just have to sit down and do it.

It’s really taught me that you can’t wait for inspiration to hit. I don’t understand writers that, well, I don’t know. That just wouldn’t work for my life. I couldn’t walk around waiting for inspiration. I have to sit down and just start writing. And discard a lot of what I’ve written and be okay with that.

I will often write a whole blog post or I’ve written whole chapters for my book, and then they’ve never been used. And blogging has taught me that that’s okay, and that’s part of the process. Not to be precious about my writing. And to refine it as I go. But to get writing. Straight away. Start writing and refine as you go.

Allison

Okay. So apart from that and the book, do you think that blogging has brought you other benefits when it has come to… You’ve got quite a profile, these days, one would say.

Megan

Yeah. Look, I love it. It’s a great… I have a great sense of community online. So personally, it’s certainly, I have gained so many friendships through my blog, one of them being you, for example.

But I also have found professionally that – my day job is as a primary school teacher-librarian at St Aidan’s and I adore it. I feel like I’m privileged to work in what I call heaven in a school. I adore my job. But my blog has really informed what I do at work. I feel like I have been able to remain really relevant with what is being published. I have a lot of friendships with authors and illustrators these days. And I feel like I’m able to bring to the students at my school a bit of an insight into the world of children’s and young adult writing.

And I just think that’s been the perfect combination for me. It wouldn’t work for everybody. But for me, who is, I’ve discovered I’m not someone who perhaps would suit just a nine to five job all of the time. I think my brain’s far too crazy for that. And a bit creative. I like to have lots of different things on the go.

So my blog has allowed me to have a bit of a side hustle. Not a big side hustle moneywise. But it has allowed me to have a side hustle while still being part, it’s part of my profession. I’ve got three degrees in education and children’s literature. Those three degrees are relevant to my professional life and my blog and my side hustle is also relevant to those.

Allison

Look at you. You’re just such a package. I can’t believe it.

Megan

Oh look, I am the total package.

Allison

Total package! Not to mention cute and with pink streaks in your hair and other assorted things that go on.

Anyway, so tell us about your book. Tell us about Raising Readers. What is the book? Why did you write it? Who’s it for?

Megan

Okay. So I spoke a little bit about what Kristina Schulz wanted. And Kristina was absolutely instrumental in this book and it wouldn’t exist without her. She really wanted, as I said earlier, my teacher-librarian brain in a book. And I hope that’s what I’ve given.

It is aimed at parents and educators. And it basically takes you on a journey, I guess, from your child’s reading development from birth, right up into the teen and tween years. And I’ve tried to keep it conversational in style. So that like any good nonfiction book, you could dip in and out of it.

And it’s not too academic. I think it started a bit academic. But Kristina and Cathy Vallance at UQP were quite good at pulling it back and saying, oh, I think you’ve gone a bit heavy there. It’s meant to be conversational, and the sort of thing you could have on your breakfast table and dip in and out of as you need to.

So I’ve got chapters on the rigour of reading, looking at extending your child’s reading. But then I’ve also got chapters on reading differences and difficulties. I talk about the social life of young readers and how I really love literary and book-related events for kids. I’ve talked about multi-modal and digital reading, with coding being a new literacy. And I’ve talked about online storybook readings and gaming and all those sorts of things.

I’ve kind of tried to span everything I do as a teacher-librarian with my children at school and put it all into a book. And I think that what I’ve been interested in is that lots and lots of parents have emailed me and said, this has just been such a fabulous resource for me and now I’ve purchased it for friends of mine that are having babies.

But I’ve also had a lot of teacher librarians and teachers email me and say, oh, this is just what I needed. Either to give advice to parents in my class, or this is what I needed to give me some support for my role as a teacher-librarian in a school.

So I think, you know, there’s a campaign online called Students Need School Libraries. And there’s a great website and hashtag of the same name. And one of the things that I’ve realised through the writing of this book is that nobody actually knows what teacher librarians do. And I’m hoping…

Allison

That’s so true.

Megan

Yeah. And our weight can’t be quantified, sometimes. We’re collecting data these days, but how do you quantify what a teacher librarian does and the impact that they have on a school community? And yet, when I speak to parents who do not have a teacher librarian and library at their school, or they come to my talks and they see what I offer the students at my school, they can absolutely see the value.

And I think in this data driven society, with standardised testing being so huge, there is anecdotal and hard evidence that the schools which have a teacher librarian and thriving school library do have a better reading community and they have better literacy data than other schools.

Allison

See. You’re important.

Megan

Oh, absolutely. Teacher librarians are vital.

Allison

All right. So how did you approach writing the book? Given you’d never written anything longform like this before, how did you go about doing it? Did you sort of go, goodness me, I have to write… How many words is it?

Megan

Well, the manuscript I submitted was way too long.

Allison

Okay.

Megan

It was about 75,000 words and it did get cut back a bit. I’m not sure what it ended up with. But I think they were a bit horrified.

But as I said earlier, I talk a lot and I write a lot. So dear old Cathy Vallance had to remove quite a few of my words.

So I approached it by purchasing an Australian Writers’ Centre course on using Scrivener.

Allison

Oh, fantastic!

Megan

Yep. So then I spent a long time doing that course and organising beautiful folders on Scrivener. And then I purchase a new laptop and I made the desktop really pretty. And I thought about it for a long time. And then I cleaned a space at our kitchen table… So I did all of those things.

Allison

All of the procrasti options were taken up. Yeah.

Megan

Yeah. I circled around the book for a good six months. And then I sat down and I wrote the first two, I slammed out the first two chapters.

As you then know, and I suspect quite a lot of the listeners know, my husband Daniel John Daley passed away suddenly. He had a heart attack while we were away with my family for a weekend. And he passed away. And that of course changed my life forevermore. And was… Yeah. It has been life altering.

So now looking back on it, I am so, so pleased Dan was there for the start of this book. And he exists in the book very much so and the book is dedicated to him and to my brother.

But I then went through this period where, of course, I was just a basket case. And you never get over grief and it’s a lifelong journey. But I do think the book has been part of me finding my way back out of some of those what I hash tagged #grieftown. Those early months when I just existed in grief town.

And I was so well supported online at that time. Particularly, I have to say, by you, Allison Tait. No, Allison took over my blog with a number of other children’s writers and teacher librarians, and they kept my blog going for a good six months. And it was remarkable.

And the support that I had from you and from the children’s literature community and from my school – my school were outstanding – I just thought, you know, I’m still going to do this. And a couple of… Mere weeks after my husband died, my brother and my father thought it would be an excellent idea to smash out a wall in my bedroom and build me an office that I could write in.

So then they left, because I had to work through the week, and I had a sarong strung up for a week. Just a big hole in my bedroom. And my neighbours…

Allison

I remember this.

Megan

Yes. And they built me an office. Which now I look back on and think that was really probably a crazy thing to do. But they built me a really beautiful office. And I looked myself in it then. My parents would come around and look after the girls. And I had a lot of friends that would take the girls for whole days at a time and I would just write. And I found it very, very therapeutic. And it was a chance to escape the absolute hell of my life at that time.

So I wrote the majority of those 70,000 words after Dan passed away. And when I look back at them now in the book, I don’t even recognise a lot of what I’ve written. I think I was just in an alternate universe.

So it’s been the most horrific of times and it’s been, in many ways, the most wonderful of times. I have experienced a sense of community like I never thought I would be privileged to experience. And this book, I owe a lot to this book and to the people that helped me to create it.

Allison

Yeah. Because obviously I was part of your world and of your community at that time. And it was obviously a very, very, very difficult time. And I often wonder how you managed to get through that in many ways. Because not only were you were dealing, as you say, you were living in grief town, which was not a great place to be.

Megan

No.

Allison

But you were also doing something you’ve never done before. It’s just such a massive undertaking for you. And I was just always very impressed by the fact… I think, you know, breaking it down into chunks, structuring it so that you…

Megan

Yes.

Allison

It was not only so that readers can dip in and out of it as they read it now, but it was almost like you were, okay, I’ll get this bit done and then I’ll get that bit done.

Megan

Those months circling around Scrivener were in fact well spent. And the course that I did through the Australian Writers’ Centre was great, and I revisited that course several times through the process to look at, to remind myself of how to do certain things. And I know I didn’t use Scrivener effectively. But I found it fantastic in terms of being able to move things around very easily.

So I was able to compartmentalise my book. And it was good for me as well to escape grief town and just go into the world of my book.

Allison

Yeah. So other writers have contributed to the book, including me. And Book Boy, of course, has his first published byline in your book, which he’s extremely excited about. Was that a plan from the beginning? Or was that something that evolved after you began writing?

Megan

No, it was my plan from the beginning. I don’t know that it was Kristina’s plan from the beginning. As I said, I just kept saying to Kristina, I can’t write! So I had suggested to Kristina and Cathy Vallance at UQP that I would ask experts in the field, i.e. my writerly friends to contribute.

Allison

Everyone I’ve ever met.

Megan

Yeah. That’s right. Because I’m not an expert on something like visual literacy. And I’m not an expert on teaching children to write, but you are. Which is the section that you wrote about.

So I did want the voices of other people in there. What I didn’t realise that there was a process to be followed and I didn’t follow that. I just emailed all of my friends who are writers and I said, hey, I’d really love it if you could write me a chapter on this, this and this.

And all these lovely people, like you and Will Kostakis and Des Crump and Allison Rushby, they just all did it. And then UQP were like, well, actually, we have to get permissions. And there’s a legal process…. So I wasn’t aware of that, having never done this before.

So we sort of went about it – I went about it the wrong way. We then had to seek permissions. And UQP also didn’t want other people’s voices to detract from my voice. Which I now understand why. Because they wanted the book to feel like it flowed. And that all of the styles fitted within my style. So some bits were edited. Some of the contributor sections were edited. But overall, I think it’s just added such weight to the book. Such wisdom and such weight. And I love all of the sections by other people.

Can I tell you my favourite section?

Allison

Yes, please.

Megan

So I really don’t like school readers. And when I was writing the section about when your child starts bringing home those horrible readers, I said to Kristina, well, I’m probably just going to say, I think they suck.

So I’m going to ask, I asked Pamela Rushby to write me a section on school readers, because she’s one of my favourite middle grade writers. And I knew that she had also written lots of school readers. And I assumed she had done that for the money. Because as we all know, you don’t earn an enormous amount of money from writing books. And I thought, oh well, she’s just slammed out a few school readers, I don’t know, to help pay the school fees or something.

No! It turned out… So I asked her if she would write me a section about how you write school readers. Turns out, she quite likes writing them. And it’s made her writing more disciplined, and she finds them fascinating. And I can’t tell you, when I speak at events now, so many people say, oh that section on school readers was just amazing.

And it opened my eyes as well, to what a school reader is actually for. Any why they exist. And it just blows me away. Such a boring topic, in some respects, and somehow Pamela Rushby turned it into this fascinating account of what they are.

Allison

Well, it doesn’t surprise me. She can turn most things into fascinating accounts.

Megan

Yes, she can.

Allison

She’s pretty clever.

Megan

She is.

Allison

Anyway, so let’s just extrapolate slightly from all this. Because one thing that has come out of this, I mean, you were doing this beforehand, but you are really in hot demand as a speaker at present. Which I’d imagine brings a whole nother world of time management issues for someone who is managing two children and a job and a blog and whatever else on your own.

Megan

Yes.

Allison

So speaking is obviously something that you enjoy, because you wouldn’t do it otherwise, right?

Megan

Yes. I do. I love speaking.

Allison

What do you think is the key to an engaging event when you’re the speaker? What are some of the things that you try to take to an event when you are the speaker?

Megan

Well, I’ve done a lot of speaking events since the book has come out. And I now have about four different presentations, I guess, that I can do in public libraries, school libraries, and to groups of parents, and at childcare centres.

I had to kind of… The first few I did, I felt like they were a bit discombobulated. They were sort of all over the place. I’ve really refined it down to I can speak about this, this, this or this. And I’ve prepared PowerPoint presentations for all of those.

I tailor them to each event. I prepare quite meticulously for each event. I make sure I know where I’m speaking, who the audience will be, what sorts of things they might want me to talk about. So I do tailor it for every event, but I try and stick within these four categories.

I’m meticulously prepared, but I don’t think on the night you would think that. I think on the night, you would come away thinking, wow, she just chatted.

Allison

She just made that up.

Megan

Yeah. I still want it to be conversational. Because I think there’s nothing worse than going along to an event and the person just reads from the PowerPoint and there’s nothing of themselves injected into it. So I tell lots of personal anecdotes when I’m speaking. And I take lots of questions from the audience. I love questions from the audience.

And I particularly like it if I’m being interviewed by somebody. Because those conversations can often be just so fascinating. Bring up things I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.

But I think it’s important to inject yourself into your presentations. But you still have to be meticulously prepared. Because there will be those events where you go, questions? And there’s not a single one. And you’ve got nothing else to say, well, that’s really awkward.

Allison

Mm, very awkward when you’ve still got 15 minutes to go on your allocated time.

So you and I, along with the author Allison Rushby, are the admin team for the very popular Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group, which has grown exponentially from our first conversation, which was basically, oh, maybe we should make a group, to over 7,000 members and growing every day.

Is the group a useful resource for you in your daily work as a teacher librarian?

Megan

I find it fascinating. There’s not very many parents from my own school in that group. And I don’t have as much contact with parents, sometimes, as I’d like. I’d love to know their opinions on the books they read, their children are reading.

So I have found it fascinating reading Your Kid’s Next Read. Because I know what my kids at school like to read, but sometimes there’s a disconnect between that and what their parents are saying about they’re reading and what they would like their children to be reading.

And then I’ve also just been so encouraged to see how many parents passionately believe in providing their children with beautiful quality books. I love it. And I’m also astounded by how many people are so gracious in giving their time and expertise within that group. And often by the time I see a question there that I could perhaps answer or give a suggestion for a book for, it’s been answered by 20 other people. And I think, well, how great is community?

Allison

Oh absolutely. It’s amazing. And the thing I really love about it, too, is that we have such a range of expertise in the group. There’s a lot of teacher librarians, there’s a lot of booksellers, there’s a lot of authors, there are a lot of parents who are obviously specialists in their own fields, in different fields.

Megan

That’s right.

Allison

And the breadth of – the thing I love about it – the breadth of books that are suggested. And the ones that people are reading that you would not necessarily pick up yourself for your own kids or whatever, and then you see it and you go, oh wow, okay, that would be great for my kid.

Megan

That’s right.

Allison

It allows us to recommend them to other people who may be looking for a specific thing. And you can’t read all the books yourself. So being part of a group like this allows you to be part of other people’s reading of all of the books.

Megan

It’s a brains trust, isn’t it?

Allison

It’s really, really interesting. And why do you think the group works so well? What do you think it is about that community?

Megan

I think it works so well because it’s unlike other groups that I am in, which might be children’s lit focus. Some of them are creator groups, or teacher librarian groups. I love this one because it’s got such a cross-section of the stakeholders within children’s reading. From the parents, to the booksellers, to the authors, to the illustrators. All of the stakeholders are in that group in some form.

And I think that there is a huge amount of knowledge within that group in terms of you’ve got so many people’s different opinions. I really like that we opened it up so widely to everybody. Of course, that has meant that we’ve had to had rules around no self-promotion. Because I think that’s something that I find in some of the other groups I’m in. I’m like, well, I know why you’re suggesting such and such. That’s your product.

So I love that we’ve got quite strict rules around no self-promotion, because that’s when people start to disengage from a group. When you can see why one person…

Allison

Yeah. You want the recommendations to be credible.

Megan

You do. You do.

Allison

I think that’s one of the things that works really well, as well.

Megan

You do. Yeah, I just love it. I really enjoy that group and I wish I had more time to just spend inside that group. But then when I do put aside time in it, I just always come away thinking, oh wow, what an incredible community.

Allison

All right, now let’s finish up with our famous, infamous, top three tips. And I thought maybe you would like to give us the top three tips for someone who never thought they’d write a book, but has in fact found themselves writing a book.

Megan

Yes. Yes. Well, my three top tips are to be disciplined with your writing. And if you have the opportunity to blog, which was obviously how my discipline started, I think that is great. So be disciplined with your writing. Make it a daily routine.

My second tip is to not be precious about your writing. And that’s something that blogging taught me. You have to really not be precious about your writing. And the editing process taught me that as well. You have to be humble. I would write whole chapters that I thought were okay and Cathy Vallance would kindly say, well, actually that didn’t work.

Allison

Start again!

Megan

And I think you can’t hold on to your words too tightly. I know the product that I have now is the best it can be because I worked with great people. So I think you have to not be precious about your writing.

And my third tip is to read widely. And I think sometimes people worry if they’re reading in the area in which they’re writing that they’ll pick up the ideas of others. But I think that through all of my reading that I have done in the children’s and YA space I’ve just, it’s helped me find my voice. And it’s helped me know what is appealing to children and to readers of all ages.

So even if you don’t read the specific genre, if you’re writing fantasy, maybe you don’t read fantasy. But I think you need to read at the age group that you are writing for, because it gives you an idea of the voice and the tone that you should be aiming for.

Allison

Perfect. Well, thank you so much for your time today. Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily, author of the wonderful Raising Readers. It’s been an absolute pleasure. It’s always wonderful to talk to you. Like, we’re just having a chat here, aren’t we? No one’s really listening, are they?

Megan

It’s just like my blog. I never think anyone will read it.

Allison

All right. Well, thank you so much Megan. And I’ll see you round the traps.

Megan

Thank you. Thank you.


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