A Lucky Break

This is the first blog on my brand new website. As some of you know, I was self-publishing my books for more than ten years (under the imprint of Tortoise Publishing) before Orion Children’s Books took me on last year. Several people have asked how I managed to become a ‘proper’ author. The short answer is a great big dollop of luck. A longer answer is this:

A lady called Louise Weir emailed me to say she’d like to make my book Midnight on Lundy a book of the month on the website www.lovereading4kids. Well, as you can imagine, I was thrilled. Apparently Louise had picked up the book because she had happy memories of family holidays on Lundy.

It was hard work doing research on Lundy!
It was hard work doing research on Lundy!

We started exchanging emails every so often, and one day she asked why I self-published my books. The answer was simple – I hadn’t been able to persuade an agent or a publisher to take me on (although I’d been so disheartened by rejections that I hadn’t tried for ages). She suggested that I should send my books and a covering letter to Orion Children’s Books.

I was amazed when Fiona Kennedy from Orion emailed me to say she’d like to come to see our farm and meet me. She visited us on a lovely sunny day in June 2011. I was so anxious not to get my hopes up that I talked non-stop about anything but books. We gave her a tour of the farm and showed her our Exmoor ponies on the moor. At about four o’clock, Fiona said that the tour of the farm had been lovely, but that she really needed to sit down and talk to me about my books, so we did. As you can imagine, I was delighted (actually, I was too

Orion suckling his mum when he was a couple of weeks old. The other foal is Gaia.
Orion suckling his mum when he was a couple of weeks old. The other foal is Gaia.stunned to feel anything much!) when she said that Orion would like me to re-write my existing books for publication in 2012, and they would like some completely new stories for publication in 2013. Wow!

Since then my life has changed quite a bit. I spend much more time writing, which I love (except on bad days when my mind goes blank – but everyone gets those, I’m told). I spend even less time than I used to cleaning the house (I’ve always found housework incredibly boring) and I don’t have to sell and distribute my own books (hurray!). The only downside is I seem to be spending far less time with my family, out on the farm or with the horses and dogs. However, if I get my act together (and spend less time on Twitter and Facebook or staring at my computer screen while sipping coffee) I’m sure I’ll be able to make time for everything, including handling my Exmoor gelding, Orion. He was born on the moor last year. More about him in my Orion the Exmoor blogs.

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