Friday, 19 August 2016

Book Bound retreat 2016

It's been a very busy time since my last post, and this article I did for SCBWI's Words & Pictures is one of the reasons why...

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Book Bound 2016 – Turning the Pages to Success...

Oxon Hoath manor house – home for the weekend!
 ‘You want your children’s book to be accepted by a publisher. We want to help you achieve that.’ – The Book Bound Team

Book Bound writing retreat 17-19 th June was the second of its kind at the stunning location of Oxon Hoath manor house in Kent. Report by Emma Finlayson-Palmer

 It promised to be invaluable to writers’, and it certainly was! So much fantastic insider knowledge of publishing and agent life and practical help for writers crammed into just one weekend. It took me over a week to fully come back down to earth and re-join the land of non-writers in my day to day life. 
Arrival at Book Bound, L-R Larisa Villar Hauser, Tizzie Frankish and Dale Hannah​ 
There were 30 writers from across the globe at varying stages of their careers. Some were agented, others not, some writers were winners or finalists in prestigious competitions such as Undiscovered Voices and Chicken House. But we all had one thing in common, we had a children’s book we were working on that would be the focus of the weekend for each of us and the Book Bound team.
 Library at Oxon Hoath
 The weekend kicked off with introductions to the lovely Book Bound team, Sara Grant, Sara O’Connor and Karen Ball. Sadly Jasmine Richards was unable to attend, though for good reason as she’s just welcomed her second baby into the world. Between them, they have collaborated on more than 1000 books, which have won awards and sold millions of copies around the world, have written more than 40 children’s books, they have more than 30 years’ combined editorial experience, have extensive industry contacts and are a group of leading professionals in the children’s book industry. The perfect team to help us writers navigate the journey through unchartered territory.​ 
Later that evening I had my one-to-one with Sara Grant, author of hugely successful series such as Magic Trix and Chasing Danger, who provided brilliant feedback on my book, with lots of ideas on how to get it ready for submission.
 Editing my book under Sara Grant’s guidance
Keynote speaker on Saturday morning was Sarah Odedina of Pushkin Press. She gave us some great advice and insight into her daily work life and books she has published, with a strong focus on historical fiction for children.​ 
Me enjoying Sarah Odedina’s talk, photo by Melissa Valente.
Book Bound helps to provide writers with the tools and advice to rework their manuscripts and hopefully be successfully placed with an agent and publisher. The weekend comprised of intensive writing workshops giving fantastic and practical tips on editing and getting your writing into a cohesive structure. 

There was a craft related collage table for writers to get some ideas for their books. Great for getting creative and generating ideas and visuals for stories, and another area where writers could chat and get to know one another.
Collaging my book
We had the opportunity to learn how to pitch our books, and were lucky enough to put these into practice after a multi-agent panel with Penny Holroyde of Holroyde Cartey, Jenny Savill of Andrew Nurnberg Associates, Amber Caraveo of Skylark Literary Agency and Sallyanne Sweeney of Mulcahy Associates. The agents discussed a wide range of topics including some of their favourite books and what they’d like to see more of in their inbox, and some great tips for writers hoping to submit their work. 

I must mention the food at Oxon Hoath, it was exquisite! Grown and prepared on site, freshly sourced and mainly from the manor’s garden. There was also a well-stocked bar to keep writers refreshed whilst overlooking the stunning grounds of the manor. 
You can always find writers in the kitchen! L-R Dale Hannah, Sally Poyton, Elaine Cline and Nicki Thornton.
I’ve made some lovely and supportive new friends, who I will be keeping in touch with. The sort of support network offered to Book Bounders is invaluable. I can’t finish without a special mention for Sara Grant and her Oscar worthy performance of an author behaving badly! A hugely entertaining way to start out last day of the retreat, and one that will leave me with many happy memories.​ 
Oxon Hoath grounds
Book Bound was an amazing and life changing experience for me, and I can thoroughly recommend any event organised by the lovely Book Bound team. 
Bound Bounders 2016, photo courtesy of Melissa Valente​ 


Emma Finlayson-Palmer has won numerous short story competitions, has had stories published in magazines such as Anorak magazine for children, written two MG novels, started many more and is mother to a multitude. She is also the host of #ukteenchat on Twitter, a chat for writers of children’s fiction. A SCBWI member since 2014, based in the West Midlands and currently working on a book for 5-8 year olds and being mentored by Tamsyn Murray.

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