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5 tips for finding your writing voice

5 tips for finding your writing voice

One of the best – and most difficult – things to develop as a writer is your own ‘voice’. That X factor that makes your writing inherently, well, yours.

I’ll be visiting schools up and down the coast over the next few weeks, giving talks and presentations, including my very popular Find Your Writing Superpower workshop. (You can read the basic principles here.)

I always tell kids that the greatest writing superpower of all time is your own writing voice.

Write so that people know that the story is yours – even if they haven’t seen the byline (or, in my case, the cover).

Write like you talk, only better.

It sounds straight forward enough, but the reality is that it takes a LOT of courage to bring yourself to the page. Your sense of humour. Your way of thinking about the world. The quirky things you know and love.

Your feelings and emotions.

Fortunately, it’s a writing superpower we can all develop – we just have to dig down into those dark recesses of who we are and be happy to present them on the page for all to read.

Seriously, though, it’s about working your way past all the influences – every writer you’ve ever read and loved – and the obstacles – fear being the biggest one.

These five tips might help.

 

My top 5 tips for finding your writing voice

Tip #1: Start a journal

Your writing voice is like a shy child, hiding away behind your everyday conversations and communications. To coax them out of the dark recesses, you need to create a comfortable, cosy, quiet place.

For most writers, that’s a journal. Your journal can be a file on your computer or a beautiful notebook with fancy pen. Whatever works best for you to unlock the ability to get your thoughts on the page.

This is not a place to think about a reader. The relationship here is strictly between the writer and the page.

Write what you actually think. Capture snippets of your day. Write down thoughts, ideas, things that turned your head or captured your attention.

For me, as a working journalist at the time, it was a blog that helped me discover the intimacy I needed to tap into my fiction voice. As a professional journalist, I was used to writing – but I was not used to the intimate honesty I needed to bring to the page to make my stories sing.

Blogging gave me that (and I wrote about it here).

 

Tip #2: Try different things

Often, as writers, we form strong ideas very early about what we should be writing.

Just as often, this is what we love to read – and that’s a great place to start.

But it pays to experiment with different types of writing. You may have a very clear picture of yourself as a writer of literary fiction, but when you sit down to journal, what you’re actually loving is writing funny character studies or strong responses to opinion pieces you’ve read that day.

I was convinced I was going to be a writer of romance novels or commercial women’s fiction – until one day I sat down to write a middle-grade adventure novel and became consumed by it.

Write poetry. Try a screen play. Write short stories, or crime novels, or picture books.

Every time you try something new, you expand your writing muscles – and you’ll hear your voice more strongly.

 

Tip #3: Trust the writing

I wanted this tip to be ‘get out of your own way’, but I thought I’d best stick to the polite.

Finding your writing voice takes time and patience. Be kind to yourself and trust the process. Every word you write brings you closer to understanding how you write and what you want to write about.

You’ll know when you’re there because the idea will sing to you and, no matter how difficult the writing becomes (and it can be difficult, trust me) you’ll keep showing up to your desk or your notebook to push through.

More about this here.

 

Tip #4: Show your inner editor the door

I don’t have a study to prove this but, anecdotally, I’m going to say that nobody ever found their writing voice with an editor sitting on their shoulder telling them that the last sentence wasn’t ‘perfect’.

Your journal doesn’t need to be grammatically correct and neither does the first draft of your novel or memoir. That first draft is about you learning what the story is about – even if you’ve planned it down to the last T on a spreadsheet.

Things change.

Stories are like life, messy and complicated. We all begin with the vision of what the story needs to be perfect – and then characters start to make their own plans.

But, unlike life, with stories, we get to finish the first draft and then go back and try to make it match up to the perfect vision.

Bring the shouty voiced editor into the picture at that point and not before.

 

Tip #5: Don’t show anyone too early

Finding your writing voice is a solo adventure. Yes, feedback is essential at different points along the journey of any manuscript, but if you ask for it too early, you’re in danger of sounding like a choir, rather than the prima donna soloist you need to be.

Going back to the idea of intimacy and trust, trust yourself. At least until you’ve got enough of your story on paper to feel confident you know what you want to say.

Until you can hear yourself thinking in the words on the page.

Then a reader will be able to hear you too.


 

writing group Allison TaitAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

For full details about Write With Allison Tait, my new online writing community offering Inspiration, Motivation, Information and Connection, go here

The inside story of ‘The First Summer Of Callie McGee’

The inside story of ‘The First Summer Of Callie McGee’

My new book, The First Summer of Callie McGee, is out now in bookshops everywhere – and I’m at home in that strange netherworld that is post-launch day.

Pre-publication day, the anticipation builds and builds, like those epic summer thunderstorms that press the very air down on you for hours before they finally burst into a light- and sound-show followed by furious drenching rain.

Unfortunately, publication day brings less of the light and sound and fury, and more the sound of boxes of books being opened in bookshops across the country and the slight rusting of pages as the books are placed upon the shelves.

The day after is just… business as usual. Except that I’m typing with my fingers crossed, hoping that readers will love Callie as much as I do.

 

The inside story of Callie McGee

In the headline, I’ve promised you the inside story on the book, but I think the best way to get that is to listen to me talk about it.

I’m the special guest on a veritable bonanza of podcasts this week, and each of them will bring you a slightly different perspective on this story and how it came about.

 

So You Want To Be A Writer

A. L. Tait talks about writing The First Summer of Callie McGeeFor a deep dive into the process of writing the book, from that first glimmer of inspiration to working through the complexity of creating the procedure of the mystery element, don’t miss my conversation with Valerie Khoo on So You Want To Be A Writer.

It was so nice to be back chatting to Val about all things writing and publishing. I spent seven years as co-host of this podcast, so sliding back into this space is like coming home.

But it’s a home where your Mum does not hold back on asking the hard questions, and I can always count on Val to keep asking ‘why?’ until I manage to articulate some part of my writing process that seems impossible to explain.

So we talk about the writing, we talk about wading into uncertainty and the memories of being 12, and we talk about re-drafting manuscript themes downwards. But we also talk about the very real challenges of establishing and maintaining a longterm author career.

You know you can count on us to be honest and get to the very crux of this stuff, so it’s worth a listen.

Find it here, or where you get your podcasts.

 

Words and Nerds

A L Tait talks about The First Summer of Callie McGeeThe thing I love about chatting with author and podcaster Dani Vee on the Words and Nerds podcast is knowing that the conversation will ramble its way into unexpected places and interesting revelations. And so it proved yet again.

We talked about The First Summer of Callie McGee, solving the puzzle of who we are and writing books outside our comfort zones.

But we also talk about publicity for authors from a journalist’s perspective, and how to find different ways to draw attention to your book – by thinking outside the box of your book, guest posting on blogs, making connections, getting your byline in the article, understanding the importance of booksellers and hand selling and the awesomeness of librarians.

If you’re a children’s author or would like to be one day, don’t miss this one!

Find it here, or where you get your podcasts.

 

KidLit Classics

If you haven’t discovered this podcast gem, you’re in for a treat! Hosted by author Samantha-Ellen Bound, KidLit Classics podcast invites contemporary children’s authors to discuss one book from their own childhood that made them a writer today.

I had the most wonderful time chatting to Samantha-Ellen about Callie’s Castle by Ruth Park. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or listening to my various podcasts over the years, you’ll have heard this book come up before, but here we take a long, hard look at the beginning of my turret fixation.

To discuss the book, I had to read the book again and remain in awe of Park’s ability to create broad brushstrokes of a world, emotions and characters with a few fine details.

And yes, our characters share a name, but I swear this revealed itself to me only when Samantha-Ellen asked me to choose a book for this podcast episode. Until that moment, I hadn’t thought about Callie and her castle for years – but deep down in the part of the brain where fond memory lives, there she was.

I hope she’d like Callie McGee.

Find the episode here, or where you get your podcasts.

 

And an opportunity to ask your own questions

Writer’s Bookclub Podcast

The Writer's Bookclub A. L. TaitAuthor Michelle Barraclough’s Writers’ Bookclub Podcast has its own special twist on the author interview format – you get to ask the questions!

Michelle has chosen The First Summer of Callie McGee as her first middle-grade book to explore and dissect, and you can play along by reading the book and then posting any questions you might have for me about any aspect of writing the book to the group Facebook page before 15th August. (See How It Works here)

Michelle and I have a date later this month to interview an episode for the podcast where she asks me all your questions.

All the details on how to join in here.


 

A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries, and my latest novel ‘The First Summer of Callie McGee’. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!

 

How to promote a book: write outside the box

How to promote a book: write outside the box

It is a truth universally acknowledged that writing a book is one thing – promoting that book is quite another..

But thinking outside the box about book publicity can give an author more avenues to promote their book, and is also very satisfying. All too often new authors worry about what’s not happening with their book, so taking control of what you can do really helps.

Nobody knows this better than Dani Vee, whose first picture book My EXTRAordinary Mum was published in 2022, and whose second book My EPIC Dad! Takes Us Camping (book one in a six-part series) is out now.

With many strings to her bow, including podcaster and commissioning editor, Dani was better placed than most debut authors to understand the nuts-and-bolts of book promotion – but even she found herself having to think outside the ‘publicity’ box to maximise her efforts.

Fortunately, she’s dropped by to share her experiences in this guest post.

 

How to promote your bookThinking outside the ‘publicity’ box as a newbie writer!

By Dani Vee

The excitement of signing my first book deal lasted about 10 seconds before the terror hit.

What if it didn’t sell and no-one ever signed me again?

Ten seconds. The exact amount of time we allow ourselves to celebrate!

Leaving nothing to chance, I created a juggernaut of a spreadsheet of all the bloggers, reviewers, podcasters and book people I could contact.

I planned book shop visits, a book launch, social media posts and contacted local newspapers and magazines.

But I also watched others, and what I noticed was that the most successful people were creating content outside their books. They were creating a story around their story.

My picture book My EXTRAordinary Mum had been written from my own experiences of motherhood – and I realised that created an opportunity I hadn’t yet tapped into.

 

Creating stories around your book

I started writing articles about identity after motherhood, the expectations of motherhood and who you’re ‘supposed’ to be, the challenges of single motherhood, feminism, and even what it was like having a Gwyneth Paltrow LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.

In other words, I wrote about the ideas, thoughts and feelings that were behind my picture book. When it comes to publicity, you have to work to your strengths and show an authentic and vulnerable self. I think the more Instagram posts we like and the more filters we use, the more authenticity we crave – and it seemed to work.

Those articles were published by Mamamia, MamaMag, local newspapers and magazines and other media outlets interested in stories about motherhood, women and feminism.

Even though the articles were not directly about the book, they were topical. And they all featured my byline and my bio at the end – a bio that related directly to my book and led interested readers to my website to find out more.

 

How to find your story

You can do this too – all you need to do is to find an angle.

We know what your book is about, but what is it really about? What’s the story around the story?

What inspired it?

What is it about you and your experiences that resonate, inspire or interest others?

Sit down and brainstorm a list of the things that drove you to write the book, as well as a list of the themes and ideas that developed as you wrote it.

Once you have those lists, think about how they might crossover into articles or blog post – and which publications and bloggers might be interested in running them.

You’re not always going to get it right when it comes to publicity and promoting your book, but thinking about different ways of presenting your work is probably a good start!

 

Dani Vee is the podcast host of Words and Nerds, and author of picture books My EXTRAordinary Mum and the My EPIC Dad! series. She also works in publicity and acquisitions at Larrikin House, judges books for crime awards and may just have a crime novel in her somewhere one day. She is currently working on her first junior fiction novel. Find out more.

 


Allison Tait how to promote a bookAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries.

My new middle-grade novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out on 1 August. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

 

How to support children’s books and reading this tax time

How to support children’s books and reading this tax time

In case you missed it, the End Of Financial Year (EOFY) is upon us, which means it’s time to think not just about getting tax records and deductions in order.

Many of us will choose to make a tax-deductible donation to a charity at this time of year as a way to support causes close to our heart and reduce any tax liability at the same time.

But which charity to choose?

Reasons for supporting various charities are wide and varied and you no doubt have your favourites.

But if literature and literacy is something you care about, the Your Kid’s Next Read team have put together a list of our favourite charities that you might like to consider.

All of these suggestions offer ways to support children’s books and reading this tax time.

 

The Pyjama Foundation

Through its Love Of Learning program, children in foster care are matched with a trained volunteer ‘Pyjama Angel’ who meet with them for one hour a week to focus on learning activities, such as reading, educational games and help with homework.

The Pyjama Foundation has a resource library in every region where volunteers can borrow books, games and resources to take to the children each week. This is a free service.

Your Kid’s Next Read podcast co-host Megan Daley is an ambassador for The Pyjama Foundation.  “The work the Pyjama Foundation does is vital,” she says. “Arming young people with the (super) power of reading can be life changing.”

Find out more and donate here.

 

The Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation

The Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation (ACLF) is a not-for-profit organisation with representation from across the field of children’s and young adult literature. The ACLF’s vision is to enrich the lives of young Australians through the power of story.

The organisation aims to promote the value and importance of reading, raise the profile of books in the lives of Australian children and young adults, and to undertake select national projects to further it’s work. The highest profile activity of the ACLF is the development and management of the Australian Children’s Laureate program.

Find out more and donate here.

 

Indigenous Literacy Foundation

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is a national charity working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote Communities across Australia.

ILF is Community-led, responding to requests from remote Communities for culturally relevant books, including early learning board books, resources, and programs to support Communities to create and publish their stories in languages of their choice.

Your Kid’s Next Read donates 10 per cent of sales of our merchandise to the ILF.

Find out more and donate here.

 

Dymocks Children’s Charities

The stated mission of Dymocks Children’s Charities (DCC) is ‘to promote a love of reading and improve literacy outcomes for children in Australia’.

DCC runs three core programs that provide brand new books to children in priority locations in Australia. The charity aims to support children who have little or no access to good books, and the programs focus on restocking priority school libraries, community centres, hospitals, classrooms and providing books for children to take home and cherish.

“Ensuring all children reach an appropriate level of literacy remains one of Australia’s major challenges,” says author Jacqueline Harvey, a longtime ambassador for DCC. “Literacy is not just about reading, it is the foundation for learning.

“Dymocks Children’s Charities has developed unique literacy support programs that encourage children to cultivate a love for books and read every day ‘just because they want to’. Quite simply, it’s about getting great books into kids’ hands!”

Find out more and donate here.

 

The Children’s Book Council of Australia

There are currently two ways that you can help the work of the Children’s Book Council of Australia through donations.

The CBCA Award Foundation funds prizes for the creators of the books that win the CBCA Book of the Year Awards, as well as Honour books.

The CBCA Gift Fund helps fund programs that enrich young lives through Australian stories and create a thriving creative world. The fund supports the CBCA’s mission to connect, communicate, celebrate and advocate stories across Australia.

Find out more and donate here. 

 

Room to Read

Room to Read aims to tackle illiteracy and gender inequality around the world, with a philosophy that ‘World Change Starts With Educated Children’. In practical terms, they build libraries, support literacy, create local language books and endow long-term scholarships for girls in developing countries, collaborating with governments and other partner organisations to deliver positive outcomes for children on a large scale.

“I was attracted to working with Room to Read after reading founder John Wood’s biography, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World back in 2010,” says author Tristan Bancks, a Room To Read ambassador. “He was struck by how many children in the world have little or no access to books. Room to Read is a super-dynamic literacy organisation – they’ve reached 32 million kids!”

Through the Room to Read World Change Challenge, Bancks and his team of Australian author-ambassadors have raised more than $200,000 in the last decade. “This year our goal is to raise $20,000 to buy 20,000 local language books for kids in Asia and Africa,” he says.

Find out more and donate here.

 

The Smith Family

Beyond reading, The Smith Family’s Learning For Life program takes a broader approach to supporting Australian children and young people with their education. The program provides emotional, practical and financial support aimed at keeping disadvantaged kids engaged with school and learning to set them up for life.

You can choose to sponsor a child or make a one-off donation to support the program.

Find out more and donate here. 

 

Literacy and literature for a different cause

These two charities focus on literature and literacy to fundraise for research.

 

MS Readathon

In 2019, I was chuffed to be asked to be an author ambassador for the MS Readathon, having fond memories of participating in the bookfest myself as a child.

The MS Readathon continues to invite children and young people to ‘read for a cause’, seeking sponsorship based on the number of books they read. It’s a different way to motivate kids to pick up a book!

Funds raised help support the thousands of Australian families affected by Multiple Sclerosis.

Registrations are open now for the  2023 MS Readathon,

Find out more and donate here.

 

Write A Book In A Day

Write A Book In A Day is a fun, creative challenge where kids team up to write, illustrate and publish a book in just one school day, raising money through sponsorship for The Kids’ Cancer Project.

In 2021, I was asked to provide my top tips for the young writers involved, and you can see the video here.

The challenge promotes creativity, teamwork and the literacy skills required to produce a finished book in a short timeframe. Funds raised through the Write a Book in a Day competition go toward childhood cancer research to find better treatments and ultimately a cure.

Find out more here.

 

There are a lot of people and organisations out there doing amazing things in the world, making it difficult to choose where to put your hard-earned dollars. So we hope these links help with the process.

And remember, keep track of your receipts – and follow the organisations you choose via newsletters or social media so you can see how they’re spending those tax-time dollars.

 

Allison Tait Your Kid's next ReadAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!

Introducing THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE

Introducing THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE

My new middle-grade novel, THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE, is officially six weeks away today, so I thought it was a good time for an official introduction.

I’m sitting here today, working on a plan to get the word out about this new book and, of course, the very first place I begin is right here, on my blog, my home on the internet.

When I scroll back through my blog posts, I can see the evolution of my writing and publishing career stretching back more than a decade. It’s one reason I’ll never give up blogging, even if I’m not writing every day like I once did.

But today is all about Callie, the plucky main character from my first-ever contemporary mystery story.

 

WHO IS CALLIE McGEE?

When I see her in my mind (and I do see and hear her, it’s true), I see a solemn, thoughtful little face under curly brown hair. She’s one of those kids who sees and hears a lot more than other people ever recognise, and she carries on a constant and lengthy internal dialogue with herself.

She’s also nearly thirteen and on the cusp of high school and all it entails – and she’d love nothing more than to reinvent herself, shaking off her nerdy primary school self and emerging as a cooler, more popular version of herself.

There’s a lot going on in Callie’s head.

The cover, designed and crafted by Grace Felstead from the Scholastic Australia team, perfectly captures the summer holiday feel of the book – and I’ll share more about the inspiration for the setting of the story and some other insider details and secrets on the writing of the book in subsequent posts.

THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE MCGEE BY A. L. TAIT

 

THE OFFICIAL BLURB

“The water in a rip current is always calmer than the waves on either side. Once you’re in it, you’re best to just go with the flow.”

It’s the last summer before Callie starts high school and she’s been dragged along to yet another ‘family friends’ holiday.

Determined to change her nerdy reputation, Callie sets out to make waves but nothing is quite as she expects. Her usual ally, Sasha, has outgrown Callie; her nemesis, Mitch, has brought his cousin Owen along; and the boring south coast town of Sawyer’s Point has been rocked by a series of burglaries.

Callie, Owen and Mitch decide to investigate the robberies, bringing them face to face with a local gang … and a possible ghost.

But when Sasha goes missing, Callie must draw on all her smarts to find her friend, and discovers that being Callie McGee has its benefits.

A mystery about growing up, figuring things out and solving the puzzle of who you are.

THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE will be available in all good bookshops and online on 1 August 2023.

You can pre-order a copy here or at your favourite bookseller. 

So there you go. All official.

 

Allison Tait how to be a children's authorAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

 

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