Tag: Children’s Literature

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,…

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…

The Forgotten and the Fantastical 2 – launch event

Last weekend I drove up to Nottingham to attend an event held at Nottingham Writers' Studio, to celebrate the launch of The Forgotten and the Fantastical 2, the second book of fairy-tales to be published by Mother's Milk Books. As well as an opportunity to meet Teika Bellamy, the founder of Mother's Milk Books (and also my editor on Baby X) who, after many long telephone calls and email exchanges, I felt I already knew, it was a chance to get together with the other writers with stories in the anthology, and hear them read their work in front of an audience. Ana Salote, author of the middle-grade fantasy novel Oy Yew, longlisted for the Times/Chickenhouse prize for children's fiction, and also published by Mother's Milk Books, read from her story Grimm Reality, about what happens when a little bit of the world of fairy-tales bleeds into our world, in this case,…

Resolutions (and a writing to-do list) for 2016

On top of all the usual resolutions about being more present, less judgemental, and meditating every day, here are some resolutions for my writing life in 2016.   1. Work through the teetering pile of books beside my bed, books people gave me or told me I absolutely must read in 2015 and I never managed to, plus those I got super-excited about reading, but didn't. Oh, plus the twenty or so books I got for Christmas and for my birthday... At the moment I'm reading 'Sweet Caress' by William Boyd. Up next, I'm very excited to read 'Starlings' by Erinna Mettler and 'My Brilliant Friend' by Elena Ferrante.   2. And in the likely event I acquire a whole load of new books this year, I'm committing to buying them from independent bookshops or direct from the publishers rather than from certain (ahem) online suppliers which squeeze the margins of independent publishers…

The courage to go to dark places

Image: courtesy of Jessica Shirley A couple of years ago I wrote the first draft of a novel called He, She, It.  It's a dark book, touching on dangerous and complicated themes, but looking back at it now, I realise I didn't quite have the courage to let it be dark or dangerous enough. For example, there's one scene where my fifteen-year old protagonist encounters a predatory adult in a position of power.  Anna escapes unharmed, and tells her Mum, who acts impeccably: she immediately believes her daughter's account of events, and acts strongly to protect her. I found it very upsetting to write that scene: I was shaking as I typed, and I cried a lot afterwards. At the time, the only way I could cope with the feelings it triggered in me was by making the Mum swoop in immediately and save Anna.  I had to put an end to the…

Mysterious letters start arriving…

A few weeks ago a letter came to the house, addressed to my kids. It was in a plain envelope, with the address typed onto the front.  Local postmark. Inside, it read: 'base 4757 17 september 2037 dear dexter and euan i almost cant beleeve this is going to work. but its worth a shot. theres a masheen here. its big and brown with a metal keybord and lether straps. we arent allowed to use it. the grown ups have there own plans for it. maybe there worried were going to brake it. i type into the masheen and it sends a mesij into the past. about twenty years into the past, if ive set it up rite. if this works the way they say it does, the mesij will bounce off a receever stashun in your time, and if thats working it will make a print out and mail…

Loud Literature!

Last Thursday I was very privileged to join children's authors Charlotte Raby, Sheila Rance, and Helen Baugh at the Loud Literature event as part of this year's Hurst Festival. Earlier this summer, a group of local children attended a creative writing workshop at The Mint House led by Belle Amatt, who was also our compere for the evening. Having had time to finish and edit over the summer, the children read their stories and poems aloud in front of an audience, and the authors gave feedback to each of the young writers individually.  It wasn't difficult to be enthusiastic and encouraging because the work was so diverse, imaginative, and passionate. The children's writing included farmyard action, fantastical tales of sharks and monsters, moving descriptions of loved ones, thoughtful poems, and even philosophical meditations on the nature of creativity. The authors also gave readings from their work, either published or in progress.  I read a section of my novel Seal…