My #PitMad diary – a practical guide to pitching on Twitter

In early 2016, Authors Publish magazine were looking for a practical how-to article about #PitMad. There was an event on 17 March so I decided to give it a try. This article originally appeared in Authors Publish magazine in April 2016. Update: The book I pitched at #PitMad was Seal Skin. I'm very happy that this middle-grade adventure story is now being published by Mother's Milk Books (planned: 2018). My #PitMad Diary #PitMad is a quarterly Twitter pitch party coordinated by writer and social media guru Brenda Drake. There are several Twitter pitching events out there and they all have slightly different rules and entry requirements. Twitter provides the perfect platform for micro-pitches because of the 140 word character limit per tweet. At #PitMad authors are allowed up to 3 tweet-pitches per day. You are allowed to pitch more than one project, but it must be a finished manuscript which is edited,…

Announcement: THE TERTIARY CODE

I'm very happy to announce that I've recently signed with agent Julie Crisp.  Julie enjoyed a draft of a book I'd been working on - now called THE TERTIARY CODE. Here's what she says about it: 'I am very excited to welcome a new author to the list. For anyone who knows me well, they'll know one of my favourite books of all times is Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. So much so that I wrote about it at University, many, many moons ago, for my dissertation. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to receive a submission that read like a YA version for today's social media-obsessed and body conscious teenager. What happens when you find out everything you’ve been taught is a lie? And that you are so much more than you’ve been led to believe? Currently called The Tertiary Code, the story is set in an alternative reality…

Resolutions revisited

Well, 2016 was quite a year, and many others have summed up its highs and lows better than I ever could. So rather than weep about the state of the world I thought I'd take this opportunity to review my New Year's Resolutions from January 2016 and set some new ones for the year ahead. My first two resolutions from last year were to work through the teetering pile of books beside my bed and buy books from independent bookshops or direct from the publishers I’ve certainly read a lot of books this year, although there’s still a pile by my bed and this is constantly refreshed with new books. I'm still in a book group, which nudges me to read books I might otherwise miss. At some point I should do a post about my favourite books of this year, but for now let’s just say I loved Laura Lipman's Wilde…

There are weeks when just about the whole internet needs a trigger warning

Trigger warning: this post talks about sexual assault.   There are weeks when just about the whole internet needs a trigger warning. Like when the Trump tape came out. I had a brief moment of thinking, Okay, he'll lose now. Thank God for that at least. But there wasn't much exhilaration, and almost immediately afterwards, a heavy, weary kind of pain. Because there were all these high-ranking Republicans suddenly removing their endorsement from Trump, acting all shocked and surprised. This is appalling, they said. We never knew he was like this. How could we have possibly known? Hmmm. Well, there was that woman who accused Trump of raping her at the Epstein party when she was just 13. And Trump's ex-wife Ivana had already accused him of sexual assault and other forms of domestic violence during their marriage. And that was on top of the ample, public evidence of Trump's contemptuous lack of respect for women. Why…

Guest post: Kristina Adams – From Inspiration to Launch: What Self Publishing My First Book Has Taught Me

I'm delighted to be hosting a guest post from Kristina Adams - author, poet, and blogger from The Writer's Cookbook, a fantastic source of information and inspiration for writers. Last month I published a post on what I learned through having a novel traditionally published, and Kristina reblogged the post on The Writer's Cookbook. This month, Kristina shares what she has learned through her own self-publishing journey.   "I’ve changed a lot in the last year or so. More than I ever thought I could’ve. Almost all of that is down to self-publishing my novel, What Happens in New York, in May of this year, and all the events that led up to it. I don’t think I’ll ever fully know the extent of how much it’s changed me, but here are some of the things I’ve realised in the last few months. I’m more productive I was never the most…

What I’ve learned from being traditionally published

To be clear: the point of this post is not to compare traditional publishing with self-publishing and declare one better than the other. Traditional publishing covers a range of types of experience anyway, from Big Five to small press. Likewise, self-publishing encompasses a wide and varied landscape which includes everything from independently putting out an ebook out via Amazon all the way through to 'selective' self-publishing, where the author works with a professional publishing house to edit, design, print and distribute their book, but underwrites part or all of the costs themselves. And of course, there are a range of models and different options in between. I haven't ever self-published a book, so don't have that experience to draw on. But I definitely wouldn't rule it out for the future, and I hope my experiences in traditional publishing would be helpful if I decided to try it. Meanwhile, having recently gone through…

Countdown to launch

Baby X is launched this Saturday, 25 June, at the Lowdham Book Festival. The last few weeks have been manically busy. When something has been this long in the making, how can everything feel this last minute? And why is it only on the final read-through I notice so many embarrassing errors? One of the challenges of being published by a small press is the lack of resources to throw at publicity and promotion, so it's all hands on deck to publicise the launch. There've been press releases to polish, including quotes from advance readers (big thanks, by the way, to everyone who read the book early - before it had even been proof read - and supplied lovely juicy quotes for publicity materials); these need to be sent out to local, national and even international publications, and then the responses that come back need fielding. There's also something called an 'Advance Information Sheet' which is…

Baby X – first chapter

I'm getting very excited about the imminent publication of my first novel, Baby X. In the interest of getting you excited too, here's the first chapter.   Chapter one Alex, Now, Sussex It’s midmorning when we turn off the motorway, taking the road which leads to the sea. Still raining: January rain, shot through with sleet. It’s been raining all night, raining since yesterday evening. Raining since – Enough of that. I don’t have the time to think about what I’ve done. I keep glancing in the rear view mirror, checking to see who might to be tailing us. I have to stay one step ahead. I don’t think we’re being followed. Not yet, anyway. The road leads up into the rain-drenched grey-green sweep of the South Downs. As we reach the top, I turn the wipers up to full. Below us the slate-coloured sea is only distinguishable from the grey…

I love grammar, but I don’t love the SATs

First up, a confession: I'm a total grammar nerd. I love semi colons; I get super-irritated when I see one misused. I revel in the difference between the past perfect and the past progressive. I know what a relative clause is, and I know how to punctuate one. So sue me. Grammar, as they say, is the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit. You'd think a grammar nerd like me would be delighted by the additional emphasis on formal grammar in the new KS1 and KS2 SATs, wouldn't you? You'd think I'd be pleased that our nation's children are being taught to use apostrophes correctly. Believe me, I want everyone in the country to use apostrophes correctly. I really do. But this is not the way to achieve that particular utopia.   What's wrong with the new SATs? I hear you cry. Here's what's wrong:   1. There's no point learning…