Friday, August 23, 2013

How To Write To Me (Or Any Other Writer)

Here is my pin board, full of post:

I get lots of lovely fan mail from all over the world from readers. And I write back to every single letter.
But how do you write to me?
First you open one of my books and find my publisher’s address. They're called Walker Books.
It's on the page that has all the publication details – see the highlighted bit below (it's pretty small!).

So if you want to write to me this is the address:
Sarah Webb
c/o Walker Books
87 Vauxhall Walk
SE11 5HJ

In fact, you can contact any author in the world through their publisher - Jacqueline Wilson, Derek Landy, Judi Curtin. I can't guarantee that they will write back, but if your letter is nice enough, I'm sure they will.

So now you know. And I'll be expecting lots of lovely letters very soon!

Yours in books,
Sarah XXX

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Fairytale of Hong Kong - the International Young Readers Festival

Me talking to students in Hong Kong
Earlier this year I made a decision – I’d say YES to as many things as possible. YES to going to new plays and gigs; YES to reading at book events and festivals; YES to visiting as many schools as I could; YES to travelling to new places and having new experiences. So when the Hong Kong Young Readers’ Festival asked if I’d attend their festival for a week, I took a deep breath and said YES.
It took a lot of organising. My parents very kindly offered to take my youngest two children during the trip (the eldest is 18 and said he’d stay at home and mind the rabbit and the house) and I booked the flights rather nervously. I love visiting other countries but I’m not a great flyer and it’s a twelve hour flight from London to Hong Kong. Luckily my partner said that he’d travel over with me.
On Thursday morning I arrived home from what can only be described as a whirlwind tour of Hong Kong – 9 events in 5 days.
The first events I did were nursery rhyme sessions with young children and their mum and dads. Here I am doing an action rhyme in the Hong Kong Central Library with some parents and toddlers.
Then I did lots of writing workshops and school visits, travelling all over Hong Kong to talk to students of all ages.
They were all lovely students and really interested in Ireland and Irish culture. I had great fun chatting to some of the girls after the events and finding out about their schools and what they liked to read. They told me that most people in Hong Kong have a Chinese name and also an English name which they pick themselves.
We also squeezed in time for some sightseeing. Hong Kong is full of skyscrapers and at night they are all lit up. It’s quite a sight!

I had an amazing time. If you ever get the chance to visit Hong Kong, do go! And don’t be too surprised if a Chinese girl pops up in one of my books some day soon.
Hong Kong is the kind of place that says YES to life every single day – it’s fast, busy and crowded but the people are very kind and friendly and the whole trip was a brilliant experience, one that I’ll never forget. I’m so glad I said YES!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Win Some Fab Amy Green Goodies to Celebrate World Book Day - 7th March

World Book Day is on March 7th and schools, bookshops and libraries all over Ireland and the UK will be celebrating books and reading.
I'll be at a big event in Dublin with my writer friend, Judi Curtin on the day. I can't wait.
To celebrate the day I'm having a brand new competition. You can win a silver necklace, an Ask Amy Green pink leather luggage tag (see the picture) and lots of signed Ask Amy Green goodies.
You can enter on my Facebook page - or if you are not on Facebook, you can email me - - with COMPETITION in your email and your address.
Best of luck,
Sarah XXX
Enjoy World Book Day!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Winners of the Ask Amy Green Young Editor Competition

I am delighted to announce the winners of the 2012 Ask Amy Green Young Editors Competition.

The winners are:

Iseult from Galway
Sophie from Tipperary
Ellen from Waterford
and Niamh from England

Well done to all of you! And thank you to everyone who entered. There was such a high standard this year that I decided to have 4 Young Editors instead of 2.

They will help me edit Wedding Belles in 2013.

Sarah XXX

What It Takes To Be A Writer - For Bláthnaid

(Originally posted on the Girls Heart Books Blog)

I got a lovely letter in the post week from a girl called Bláthnaid, age 11. Unfortunately she didn’t give me her address so I couldn’t write back. She asked me a very good question:
What does it take to be a writer?
So here goes. This is for you, Bláthnaid, if you’re reading!

This is what it takes to be a writer:

1/ Imagination
You have to see story ideas in everything – the building site down the road, the old woman who feeds the birds in the park, the librarian with the sad eyes. You need to ask yourself ‘Who are they? Where do they live? Do they have family? What’s their story?’
bird lady
2/ Curiosity and Empathy
You must be fascinated by the world around you and especially by how people tick. You must try to understand how people feel – this is vital. It’s called empathy. And you must use this to create characters so real that they leap off the page. The more you understand and care about your characters, the more your readers will also care.

3/ Courage
Being a writer isn’t easy. You have to explore things that scare or upset you and write about them. You have to use all your experiences - even the unpleasant ones – to inform your work. And don’t be afraid of making your readers cry – strong emotions are good. But make them laugh too!
girl laughing
4/ Tenacity or Sticking Power
If you want your story or book to get published, you may have to wait a long time. You may have to write a lot of stories or books before you get published. But if you stick at it and put passion, enthusiasm and heart into your writing, you’ll get there.

5/ Hope
You have to believe that you WILL get published one day and that readers WILL like your story or book. You have to have faith in your writing and write no matter what, as often as you can.

Hope this helps, Bláthnaid!

Yours in writing,
Sarah XXX

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Strange Questions About Cheese and Tractors

I was at a book event last weekend where the lovely Irish author, Eoin Colfer was talking about his Artemis Fowl books. At the end of his brilliant, highly amusing session (and if he’s ever at a festival near you, go, go, go!) he asked for questions from the audience.

Eoin Colfer

One young lad put up his hand and asked ‘Mr Colfer, do you have a girlfriend?’ Everyone rolled around the place laughing. ‘I have something even better,’ Eoin said. ‘I have a lovely wife.’ Then Eoin said it was one of the funniest questions he’d ever been asked.

It got me thinking about questions and what was the funniest question I’d ever been asked at a book event. There are a few that stand out.

1/ What’s your favourite type of cheese?

This was asked by a boy (always the boys!) at a school event in Cork.

And my answer was: Emmenthal

2/ What’s your favourite kind of tractor? Yes, a boy again – this time from Carlow.

And my answer was: A John Deere – he liked this answer as his dad had one!

But the question I am most often asked is this:

3/ Where do you get your ideas?

It’s a very hard question to answer. Ideas come from all over the place – memories, old diaries, travelling, things that have happened to me, good or bad, books, movies, songs, sunsets . . . I could go on. When I turn the tables and ask the audience the very same question they mostly say ‘My head’, which is also a good answer!

So a question to all the writers out there – what’s the funniest or strangest question that YOU have ever been asked at a book event?

And readers – if you could ask a writer ANY question at all, what would it be?

Yours in books,

Sarah XXX

PS The YOUNG EDITOR Competition has just opened - if you’d like to get involved in working on my next Ask Amy Green book with me, Wedding Belles do enter!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What's In a Name? Why Book Titles Matter

Book titles matter. They must be memorable, intriguing and above all, they must say something about your book or story.
Think of Wuthering Heights, Bleak House, Pride and Prejudice, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, War Horse . . .
Name titles are also good – when the name is perfectly chosen of course - Matilda, Skulduggery Pleasant, Charlotte’s Web, Judy Moody, Artemis Fowl, Huckleberry Finn . . .
But how do you find the right title for your book or story? And how do you know that it is the right title?
Coming up with a good title isn’t easy, especially with deadlines looming. Ask Amy Green – I love this as a series title. It’s simple and it has a nice ring to it. Amy is my Everygirl, an average 13 year old girl that readers can identify with I hope, so I gave her a name that I love (my daughter is called Amy) and a surname that lots of girls have – Green. She’s an agony aunt and likes to solve problems, so I though that ‘Ask’ was appropriate – as in you can ask her anything and she will try to help.
I also like the individual book titles very much – especially Boy Trouble, Summer Secrets, Bridesmaid Blitz and Dancing Daze (out in September) – which each give a good flavour of what the book is about. I like the title Love and Other Drama-ramas, but it's not my favourite – and boy did we have trouble with that title!
It was originally to be called Party Drama-ramas but as the book changed, the title had to change too. I would have liked to get more of Bailey’s story into the title (the book is largely about his struggle to find his place in the world), but it was really difficult. I quite liked Mystery Male as a title, but it wasn’t quite right.
Other titles we tried were Dates and Other Drama-Ramas (too like Cathy Hopkins great Mates, Dates series), Double Drama-rama (too vague), Dublin Drama-rama (again a bit vague). So we decided on Love and Other Drama-ramas which we were all happy with (my editors, Annalie and Gill help me with titles if I’m stuck). And the book is about love – family and romantic - and the problems it can cause, so it does fit nicely.
I love the title DANCING DAZE - the new Amy book, out in September. And if you read the book you'll find out why! ;)
So, in short, make your title simple, memorable and make it say something about your book. When I’ve cracked it 100% myself, I’ll let you know! What’s YOUR favourite book title and why? I’d be most interested to know.
Yours in books,
Sarah XXX
(A version of this post first appeared on the Girls Heart Books blog)