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Posts tagged ‘children’s books’

Courage, hope, and hopepunk: Veronica Strachan

Veronica Strahan is magnificent at sharing words that mean a great deal to others. Whether writing non-fiction, children’s picture books or the fabulous high-fantasy-dystopian-hopepunk Opal Chronicles, Veronica ‘s books will affect how you see the world and yourself. Her memoir Breathing While Drowning is a message of courage and hope that speaks to grief and recovery.

Author Veronica Strachan/VE Patton

Author Veronica Strachan/VE Patton

Welcome, Veronica. You have quite a catalogue of amazing works. Why is writing important to you?

VERONICA: Though my creative writing was delayed by a few decades (okay four or so), due to the frustrating and often challenging interruptions of life, I’ve always felt compelled to write and share my stories—even if it was only with myself. When I spent years mired in producing formal clinical and business writing, my creative outflow was journalling. I love the power words have to change your life, to draw you into other worlds, to make you think, feel, and believe differently. Journal writing kept me sane and functioning until I found my story writing voice again. Once I’d turned on the tap, it was impossible to turn off.

 

Those words just keep coming, I know. What advice would you give an aspiring author?

VERONICA: Write what you’d love to read, the book that contains everything you ever wanted in a story. This is the story that will speak to other people. Let the creative juices pour out first, and then spend time on your crafting, and finding your audience. Take some creative writing courses and follow people who are writing things that you enjoy, or who are successful in their writing business.

Give yourself time. It’s a bumpy ride, but so worth your effort. You will change someone’s life with your story.

 

Oooh, that’s quite a concept! What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing?

VERONICA: I’d given my daughter a draft of my first fantasy to read. She was reading it as a favour to her mum, but this was the text I received…

‘Noooooo!!!! That can’t be the end! I need more! What happens next?!?! Right are you finished writing book two yet? It is so freaking good!!! I literally got only a few hours sleep because I couldn’t stop reading and couldn’t wait to wake up and keep reading. Holy shit – you have written something truly fantastic! (In both senses of the word!)’

That made me very happy.

And since I’ve been writing children’s picture books… the videos and photos of kids tucked up with a copy of Chickabella are wonderful. They’re often accompanied by anecdotes from parents about how Chickabella is now a part of their family! One little boy wants his mum and dad to buy a rainbow house.

 

How fabulous! Great responses. How do you feel about reviews?

VERONICA: I find most reviews incredibly helpful. They tell you how readers are connecting with your stories and where improvements may be needed. A complimentary review can give you an incredible boost, especially when someone is moved by your words.

And reviews are vital to self-published authors like me. Without the machinery of a publishing company to assist and connect you to readers, it’s all up to you. Reviews from readers help put your story in front of more readers, spreading the word about your work. I like to tell readers that someone else who needs to read the book may find it by reading their review.

 

What do you think about covers, and what say do you have in yours?

VERONICA: Books are absolutely judged by their covers, particularly these days when so many people are scrolling rapidly on mobile devices. Covers needs to entice the reader into your world. I’m incredibly lucky that my daughter Cassi Strachan is a creative soul who creates beautiful covers to my very sketchy requests. She always exceeds my expectations. Cassi and I teamed up for The Adventures of Chickabella series (words by me and pictures by her) and that has been a lot of fun too. We get so excited when we hear that kids love the books and recognise Chickabella on the cover.

 

Do you have launch parties for your books?

VERONICA: I had a launch party for my memoir Breathing While Drowning, a few years back which reunited me with a bunch of wonderful people who had helped us over the years – and gave me excuse to have a book cake. But it was at a fabulous launch party in 2019 for my first fantasy novel, Ochre Dragon, Book 1 in The Opal Dreaming Chronicles (read Clare’s review here), that I felt I had really arrived as a writer – I had made the whole thing up after all. We had a delicious dragon cake (there must be cake), champagne and nibbles, book signing, and some reading from the story. Lots of friends, family, and other writers came to celebrate the book’s long-awaited birth. It was brilliant!

Launch party cake: The Ochre Dragon

Launch party cake: The Ochre Dragon

Yes, I sigh for the good old days of book launches! One day we’ll have them again. Do you write in more than one genre?

VERONICA: One genre – never! I’m definitely a multi-genre writer, sometimes with a genre mashup in the same book! I like messing with the usual suspects and deepening the characters and worlds. My favourite reads are fantasy and scifi, so that’s my main focus in creative fiction under my pen name V. E. Patton. I’m also completing the final edits of a co-authored, contemporary, action adventure with a supernatural twist.

As Veronica Strachan, publishing my memoir was the door opener into writing. I just had to write the story of my long healing from grief following the death of my second daughter Jacqueline Bree. It was incredibly cathartic. And as well as being a writer, I’m a leadership coach, health management consultant, and facilitator. So, as requested by some of my readers and clients, I wrote and published a self-discovery workbook and journal as a companion to the memoir. It felt very much aligned to my work with women who want to find ways to live a more remarkable life.

Veronica is also a life coach and motivator

Veronica is also a life coach and motivator

 

The first of my children’s picture books was originally written as a legacy for my sister Mary, who was a kindergarten teacher and told the best stories. I always nagged her to write a book, but she was our family’s oral storyteller. When she died in early 2019, I wanted to honour her love of children. My own children still remember their favourite read aloud stories, and I wanted to help make good memories for other children.

 

 

That’s wonderful. I’m sure Mary is glad that you are now putting stories onto the page. Thank you so much for talking with me today, and I look forward to the next book launch Opal Dreaming #2 is coming soon, I hope.

 

Veronica’s LINKS

Ann Brady speaks the Last Word

Author Ann Brady, who writes historical fiction and also engaging children’s books, is my guest today on Last Word of the Week. Ann is a wonderful mentor of other writers and her caring and wise attitude can be seen in many of her books. She is adept at creating engaging characters and attractive worlds. Ann lives in Cardiff but has been known to visit antipodean shores…

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LWOTW: Hello Ann, how nice to meet you. Can you tell us about when you first realised that you are a writer?

Ann: I’m not really sure when the idea of being a writer first came to me. I have always been able to write whether it be fiction or fact. Perhaps that’s down to my open mind and my wild imagination as well as my being pedantic in wanting to research things deeply and clearly. I do know I have always been able to write.

I love the combination of an open mind and a wild imagination! Do you rely more on imagination, dreams, or planning?

I take whatever life throws at me. Sounds silly but for me life delivers such wonderful scenarios that you only need to use your own imagination to create stories. For example, many of the Little Friends Children Picture Book Stories come from my having seen children’s reactions or behaviours. Children are wonderful sources for stories.

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Endlessly inspiring, I agree. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Everyday. I just love being part of the writing world. More so in recent years as I have learnt so much more in relation to publishing. Mentoring other writers, especially younger ones, has been a delight and there is nothing more satisfactory than seeing the look of delight on a youngster’s face when they see their work in print. Even someone as young as five.

That’s wonderful! What are you most looking forward to at the moment?

Developing my knowledge and passing this on through the new workshops that I am creating. Unlike a lot of people, I believe in sharing and am not jealous of their success. Perhaps that due to my age or just the fact that I have achieved so much I am happy in my own skin.

Great to hear. I’d love to hear more about those workshops. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Persevere, be patient and grow a thick skin. There are a lot of people out there who are very willing to be criticise thinking they know the answers and yet they haven’t got a clue. If they had they would be the ones I would be saying this to.

Oh, yes, a thick skin is very necessary! And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character?

Wow this was a hard one as I’m not sure who I would be. I think it would have to be a woman who is as strong as I am now. Who doesn’t put up with any nonsense and one who could be successful regardless of the time or era she lived in? If I were a factual character, I suppose the closest I could come might be Queen Elizabeth 1 or maybe Queen Victoria. Both were strong no nonsense women determined to be equal to men. Now that sounds a bit weird, even to me ha ha!!

It sounds like a very good choice to me! Thank you so much Ann for speaking with me today.

 

Ann’s important links:

www.ann-brady.co.uk

www.littlefriendsbooks.co.uk

www.dearfriendsbook.co.uk

Twitter: @AnnBradyWriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnBradyBooks