Children's Books & YA Authors

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Children's Books & YA Authors

A group to connect YA and children's book authors. 

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I write adult fiction but had a few minutes too fool around so I came up with this. If you have small children they might enjoy Jessica and Brennan's Adventure. 

Jessica and Brennan Meet Mr. Mean Green


Nighttime had fallen in the quiet little town of Sneedville. Everyone was cozy in their beds for the night. Jessica Gritchen loved to eat, smell, feel and play with jello. She could hardly wait for her big bowl of the jiggly stuff.

Mother Gritchen made some wiggly green jello every evening.

Brennan didn’t like jello very much. “Jelly is smelly,” he said.

Jessica lay in bed listening to night sounds and eating her jello. She loved the feel as it wiggled and jiggled on her tongue. Suddenly, she could hear a noise. It was someone singing a strange flubbly song.

“Mean is green and green is mean. I’m the meanest jello you’ve ever seen. Let me out, Jessica!”

Bravely, Jessica sat up in bed. Strange sounds could not make her hide under the covers.

“I’m mean and green without a doubt. Go get Brennan and let me out!”

Jessica crept to her little brother’s bed and shook him. Instead of waking, he shouted, “No!”

She had enough of his nonsense, her news was too important. Jessica pulled Brennan and his blankets boinking onto the floor. Before he could untangle himself, she whispered her secret into his ear. “Goody, goody, gout, let’s go and let him out.” 

“When and where?” he asked.

Jessica shrugged her shoulders and together they followed the sound to the kitchen where they heard, “I’m mean and I’m green and without a doubt. I’ll make you pay if you don’t let me out.”

“The fridge!” they shouted together.  This was the first thing they had agreed upon lately.

“Yummity, yum!” Brennan shouted as he dashed to the fridge.

“No! Be careful!” Jessica warned but too late.

The fridge door swung open revealing a green slimy mess covering everything. 

“Flubbty, flubbity, flu now I’m going to eat you!” threatened the green blob. That great green glob flew flubbidly, dubbidly  right at Brennan.

Thinking quickly, Jessica grabbed her brother’s arm and tried to run away. She was too late for that but she was able to save Brennan’s head from being blobbed by the green mess. It still had him by the legs and wouldn’t let go.

“Slibbery, slobbery, slup, now I’m going to eat you up. First your feet and then your knees because I can do anything I please,” it sang.

Brennan was slowly disappearing into the green glob. First his feet and then his knees vanished. 

“Burp!” said the mean jello, pleased with that effort.

Next the blob gobbled up Brennan to his waist and a loud earsplitting brrrpt bounced through the room.  Brennan made a stink and old Mean Green soon spit him out. “Ptooie, ptooie, I can never eat you now. Come here Jessica,” it ordered. 

Jessica grabbed Brennan and ran before tripping over something in the dark. “Slippity slip! Slippity slip!” the blob shouted as it bounced and rolled after them.

Jessica found the cause of tripping and it was Barney the purple dinosaur. She grabbed it up and threw it to Mean Green.

Slobbity, slub,” he swallowed Barney with one gulp. The green glob burped and said, “That’s the best purple jelly bean I’ve ever seen.”

Brennan found his Baby Bop and tossed it at the slimy green thing.

Mr. Mean Green liked Baby Bop even better. He could only say, “Yummy, yum!”

Baby Bop made it feel so good that the blob rolled, twirled, wiggled, shook and flubbered in delight. 

Meanwhile, Jessica and Brennan took cover under the coffee table.  They had their eyes closed tight. They thought if they couldn’t see Mr. Mean Green it couldn’t see them.

”Flabbbity, fabbity, flub,” the creature sang as it wiggled and jiggled toward the children.

“Slurp!” in went Jessica’s foot.

“Mommy! Daddy!’ she shouted.

The blob was now covering her knees. Jessica swore, “If you let me go, I’ll never eat jello again.”

Suddenly, the darkness disappeared as the kitchen lights came on. Through the doorway rushed  their mother and father. In her hand she held four large spoons and the father carried a big bowl of whipped cream. 

Mr. Mean Green begged, “Oh no! Not that!”

With spoon in hand, they ate the green jello down to the last wiggly, jiggly bite. You see green jello was their favorite kind.


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Hello lovely people. For various reasons I haven’t written anything for ages. I need to get back into it so I have dug out some stuff I shelved years ago. I wondered if you would cast your eyes over the start of this. This is the beginning of the first story in a set of 7 (for reasons which should become clear). I have them all done in first draft form and wondered whether you think it is worth continuing with them. Thanks in advance.


Marlon Mackintosh liked his multicoloured shorts. He liked his multicoloured shirts. He liked his multicoloured hat and scarf. He didn’t like his boring black cabs. They transferred people safely and on time. His drivers were cheerful and his customers were happy but Marlon thought that they just looked dull.

One day he was looking out from his brightly decorated house across his brightly flowering garden. It was raining but the sun was out. Marlon spotted a rainbow. Suddenly he had a fantastic idea.

“Eureka!” he shouted, which is what people shout when they have a fantastic idea. He started to draw up some plans. Then he started to make some phone calls. Soon he and his drivers, along with lots of friends, were hard at work on his amazing plan.

When they had finished, they stepped back to admire their work. The old sign which said “Marlon’s black cab co.” had gone. In its place was a new sign which said “Rainbow Taxis”. His seven shiny black cabs had been re-sprayed and re-upholstered so that he had one red cab, one orange cab, one yellow cab, one green cab, one blue cab, one purple cab and one pink cab.

“Fabulous!” said Marlon, and everyone agreed. Soon the calls started coming thick and fast. Everyone wanted to ride in a rainbow taxi.

One morning, very early, Arthur the postman called. “My van has broken down,” he said, “Could your red taxi help me to deliver the mail?”

“Of course,” replied Marlon, “On its way!” He told his driver, Richard Reynolds, who put on his red cap and set off for the post office. He and Arthur loaded up the taxi with sacks full of letters and parcels.

Richard drove around Arthur’s usual route and Arthur delivered all of the mail on time. Then Richard drove to the garage to see whether the van was fixed. Sid the mechanic shook his head. “Going to be a while longer yet,” he said. “I need a part and I’m far too busy to go and fetch it this morning. It’ll be teatime I should think.”

Arthur sighed. “You’d better take me home then Richard,” he said.

“I’ve got a better idea,” said Richard. “We can fetch your part in the red taxi.”

“Thanks,” said Sid and he gave them the details. They climbed back into the red taxi and drove across town to the suppliers. They dropped off the part at Sid’s garage and then Richard drove to Emily’s café for lunch.

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I'm hearing varying stances on whether or not writers should have an Author's Website before querying. 

1. What have you heard? 

2. If you have a website but are not yet published, would you mind sending me the link so I can check it out?

Thanks so much!

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I originally posted the following in the Self Publishing group, but thought I’d repost here - apologies if you’ve already seen it!

Hi everyone,

Hope you're staying well in these continuingly strange times. It appears the pandemic has been made into a trilogy... 

I've finally taken the plunge and published my debut, The Merlin Commando (the first of what I hope will be a seven-book arc, aimed at the YA market). Harry was kind enough to choose a section from the second in the series (The Children of Excalibur - now complete in its second draft) to feature in one of his live editing sessions. 

I may still have a long way to go, and it's up to others to decide if this is any good(!), but I do know it's immeasurably better than it would have been without Harry's weekly posts of wisdom. I'm grateful to him and the many other kindred souls on Jericho whose wise words have helped me polish my writing. 

If anyone fancies Arthurian-themed dystopian fantasy, set in a very near-future, locked-down Britain (sound familiar?), please check it out:

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I'm currently working on my query package for my first novel, Skin Shedders, and was wondering if anyone could give me advice. It is a YA fantasy of 85,000 words. I also want to know if it sounds like a book anyone would want to read (and if you would like it).

Dear agent, 

I’m seeking representation for my first novel, Skin Shedders, a YA fantasy of 85,000 words, inspired by Brandon Mull’s Spirit Animals and Taran Matharu’s Summoner series. 

The book opens in a small village, in the war-torn kingdom of Verius. It follows Drake, an orphan whose parents had been murdered when he was a toddler. He goes through the Skin Shedding Ceremony, and as his new position of nobility progresses, he is increasingly wrapped up in the dealings of Yiron, the noble who owned the estate before Drake. Yiron is intricately tied up with Drake’s past, and the secrets to who murdered his parents.

As the book progresses it hints at mysteries—mysteries about the past that Drake has become embroiled in. Why are assassins being sent after him? What’s the voice he hears?

I am fourteen and have wanted to write a book for some time. I look forward to writing more books in the series.

I enclose my three opening chapters and a synopsis. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

DRAKE (16) is an orphan living in Verius, a kingdom that’s been at war for thousands of years. His parents were murdered when he was a child, and Drake wants to find the man who killed them. Drake has a mysterious disease that has been slowly progressing, the medicine he stole not helping.

The disease is caused by the Skin Shedding Ceremony not being performed, and the absence of the Ceremony. Once the Ceremony is performed, Drake’s disease will disappear.

He is caught trying to steal bread, then subsequently thrown in jail. Drake knows that no one will find him, and he will stay in jail until he is killed by the disease. After a few days, a noble finds Drake in the cell, freeing him.

The noble knows of the disease Drake has and sends him with the other sixteen-year-old children in the village. They are going to have the Skin Shedding Ceremony performed, enabling the children to Skin Shed, a form of shapeshifting.

Drake’s disease progresses, so he is taken to the capital city of Farith to have the Ceremony performed before he dies. The Ceremony is performed, but when they try to reverse it, it goes wrong, and Drake runs away. Drake finds a Dar, a messenger for the king of Dirikan. He accidently kills the Dar, Skin Shedding into a giant boar in the process, which shouldn’t be possible.

Drake is found by CALLUM, next in line for the throne. Drake and Callum are brought to Farith by one of the King’s spies. Drake overhears the spy and one of the High Court conversing about Callum and him.

Drake is sent to his estate, an estate previously owned by YIRON, the noble that murdered Drake’s parents, and disappeared years ago. Drake accidentally finds a room hidden by Yiron, and slowly discovers more about what he was doing.

Drake is conscripted into the Verin army, as well as Callum. During a battle, Drake Skin Sheds into a boar again. Callum hides the evidence. They are ambushed by Dirikanians, and Drake shows the King’s spies what he can do.

Drake shows Callum the hidden room, and they discover that they need to go to Dirikan, the kingdom that they are at war with. While Drake stays in Farith, they are attacked by the Sun’s Shadows, a religious group of assassins sent by the King. Drake and Callum escape, Callum Skin Shedding into a giant harpy eagle.

They reach Dirikan after being attacked once again, trying to find out how to gain the files they need. Drake is pickpocketed by ARLEN, a Dirikanian. King Serden finds out that they are in Dirikan, and they are caught, but not before Drake finds out Callum is Dirikanian.

With the help of Arlen, they escape Dirikan with the files they need.

A couple weeks later, Callum brings the news that the King has cut off labor to his estate. It forces Drake to go to the proving grounds.

In the proving grounds, Drake kills General Dorasthen, knocked unconscious in the process. He has a vision of Yiron, showing Drake what he needs.

The King sends the Sun’s Shadows against Drake again, flooding his estate. They are beat back, but Drake and Arlen are forced to leave before Drake is given to the Sun’s Shadows. As they escape, Callum joining them, they are attacked again, the Sun’s Shadows capturing Callum. 

Does it sound engaging? And, once again, would you like to read it?

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Hello all!

I have been trying to query my YA Fantasy horror/thriller novel with little success, so am looking over my query package and thinking how I could make it better. Would anyone here be willing to look over my cover letter, synopsis and first 3 chapters and let me know their thoughts? I'm thick-skinned, so would appreciate it if you can tell me where you get bored/confused etc.

I would post the whole here but obviously that's quite a lot, so if you're interested, can you comment/ message me your email?

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Hello Children's and YA authors! I have an exciting opportunity for the members among you. On Saturday we're hosting an event on writing direct speech in children's books where you can have the opportunity to have your dialogue workshopped live! Here is some more information:

It's ok to write ‘said’ – it’s what they actually say that’s important. Explore how to bring children’s book characters and scenes to life with authentic, engaging and entertaining dialogue with author Zoe Antoniades.

Workshop scenes from Zoe’s twintastic series Cally & Jimmy as well as having the opportunity to develop your own. In advance of the workshop, participants are invited to submit a sample of work (some of which might be shared during the session). Write a scene between two characters where a problem or conflict occurs and they try to solve it.

During the workshop, Zoe will share and unpack some of her own examples from funny fiction for children, but participants’ submissions can be for any children’s genre of their choice – adventure, fantasy, ghost story, sci-fi, crime, superhero, spy story… email her at

So, what are you waiting for? Even if you can't watch the event live, you can watch it on catch up and see what this award-winning author would suggest to make your work pitch perfect!

Anna xx

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Are you a picture book author on submission? Well, you're in for a treat! We still have some feedback sessions left with the wonderful Lorna Hemingway at Bell Lomax Agency. She will be running sessions this Thursday. Book here to secure your spot. 

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Thank you for the constructive comments. They have been taken on board and action taken. The manuscript is with an editor at present. So far, so good.

Hi Max

Congratulations on completing your novel, as others have said, this in itself is a major achievement.

Agree with others, a lot of back story and not much happens until the uncle gets his snuff box out.

I am intrigued to know where the uncle has gone, but it took a while to get to this point.

My manuscripts first chapter had exactly the same issues. Too much background, head hopping, telling not showing, not enough action. But it is all fixable.

Is your main character, (Connie 10 years of age) too young for your target audience of 10-13+. ? Would  a 13+ Want to read about  a 10 year old?

Time to start editing, good luck with your manuscript.


 Hi Max Detheridge-Smith  

You are so lucky to have finished your novel!

I like Connie too - she is brave and spunky. The first part especially gripped me. What she doesn't like/ believe in. That moves fast.

But then I felt the pace starts slowing down. There are a few instances of show don't tell (restrictive clothing at school could be boys tugging at their collars or girls pulling their clothes looser) and perhaps a tad more background/ description that actual movement/ dialogue. 

I used to read a lot of fantasy (btw - is this YA?) but I read less now so maybe the pace is different but I wanted more of Connie and less context, if that helps.

Great work again in finishing the book!

Hi Max, welcome to Townhouse! Congratulations on finishing your novel. It's a huge accomplishment and one you should be proud of.

I've read your chapters and I liked Connie. You've given her a lot of depth and she's a wonderful main character. However, these chapters read very much like a first draft. You are mostly telling /reporting what is happening or giving us a lot of information about what has happened in Connie's past. This step is vital in a first draft because it helps you get the story clear in your mind and down on the page. 

Now it's time to start editing. Connie is your MC so you need to stay with her point of view. This will help draw the reader into her story. You can learn more about head-hopping and show not tell on Emma Darwin's excellent blog. Check out her tool kit.

I also recommend getting the app Grammarly. It's free and will help with punctuation and grammar. 

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Thanks for the information, yes, it's far from finished, still in at the starting blocks. I have a friend who is at present helping me edit and move on to the next version of the story. As you know, it's a long road. However, I'm looking forward to the journey.