Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Exciting Thing

Some of you may have noticed that this blog has been a little bit quiet this year. Some of you may also know that eleven months ago, my agent and I parted company. The two are connected; it's been an incredibly tough eleven months, and many times, I wondered whether I'd made the right call – I'd been with Carolyn for 7 years, and she'd helped get my writing career off the ground, so making the decision to leave her was not an easy one (I should add that it was all perfectly amicable, and we're still speaking to one another!).

Since then, I've been doing the only thing I could to try and silence the little voice in my head telling me I should have stayed, that I'd never find another agent who believed in my writing again, that I might as well go and get a proper job because my career as an author was over – writing a new book. I don't want to give too many details about it as I don't have a publisher for it yet (no, that's not the Exciting Thing – sorry!), but I can say it's a little different to ACID and THE FEARLESS… in a good way, I hope!

A couple of months ago, I started sending that book out to agents. It got quite a lot of interest, and some very nice rejections with helpful feedback… but no yeses. Then, eleven days ago, I got a reply from an agent I'd send the book to just forty-eight hours before. That was quick, the little voice in my head said, not sounding quite as doubtful this time. What if… 

No, I told it. I'm sure it's not. I opened the email with a sinking heart, convinced it was going to be yet another 'We liked this but we didn't love it, sorry.'

As you might have guessed by now, it wasn't. It was an offer of representation! So I can now share the very exciting news (to me, anyway!) that I have signed with Ella Kahn at DKW Literary Agency!

Of course, this isn't the end of the uncertainty. Getting published is hard, and there's every chance that my new book won't find a home (although I've got everything crossed that it does, because I've had SO much fun writing it and I'd love to be able to share it with the world!). And that's fine - I'm thrilled to have had two books published; it's more than I even dared imagine I would achieve, and I'm proud I managed it.

But dammit, I love telling stories. I want to carry on. And having a good agent on your side as you navigate the choppy waters of writing and publishing can make all the difference. Ella is a great agent – she represents stellar authors such as David Owen (who you can see at the UKYA Extravaganza on 10th October!), Vanessa Curtis and Sharon Gosling, and her passion for what she does was obvious right from that first email that landed in my inbox eleven days ago. I'm thrilled to be working with her, and to be part of the DKW family. Hooray!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Patron of Reading - Year 2!

Back in 2014, Titus Salt School in Shipley, Yorkshire, asked me to be their Patron of Reading for 2014-15. The school, which has a fantastic library run by the equally fantastic Chrissie Hunter, puts a strong emphasis on reading and literacy across all departments, and I knew as soon as I set foot through the door that I was going to enjoy working with them very much indeed.

It was a busy year. I undertook several visits, including this one where I helped some students film podcasts about current GCSE questions. In February I helped launch a literacy project where a group of students wrote stories based on the school's core values (more on that in a moment!) and on World Book Day I spent two days at the school and became Empress Pass of Poetopia (which meant I got to order lots of Year 7s around - sometimes I really love my job!). You can read more about those two visits here.

Then, in May, I accompanied the Literacy project group –  21 Year 7, 8, 9 and 10 students along with teachers Mr Breen, Mrs Wilson, Miss Milnes – to Malham for a weekend, where the students would be making films out of the stories created during my visit in February.

On the Saturday, everyone was up early. My group went to Janet’s Foss first, to film some scenes for a story about two sisters who become separated and must find each other again, battling against insurmountable odds. The path to the waterfall can get quite busy with walkers, but we got there early and had the place almost to ourselves. Once the group had all the scenes they needed in the bag, we returned to the Bunk Barn to get ready for the next filming session up at Malham Cove, which required some preparation - face paints, a wizard's cape and a blue wig! It was a brilliant weekend and the students created some outstanding work. Again, a real I-love-my-job moment!

My final visit for the school year gave me another chance to dress up, this time as the Storyteller from Grimmtasia, helping Year 7 create fairy tales worlds and characters.

I also put together a half-termly newsletter called PassWords where I talked about books and writing, shared news on literacy and reading-related projects the school was running, and featured other authors and students' own writing.

And now, I get to do it all again, as Titus Salt have asked me to be their Patron of Reading for a second year. Hooray! I'm really looking forward to it, and can't wait to find out what projects I'll be taking part in this time. Here's to the brilliant staff and students at Titus Salt, and another great year of reading!

Monday, 14 September 2015

We're Doing it Again!

Hi lovely blog readers! Long time no see - but I'm back with some exciting news. The UKYA Extravaganza is happening again, and there's also going to be a UKMG Extravaganza for younger readers. I'll be taking part in the YA event, and I'm sneaking into the MG event to hang out with all the cool authors there (and eat cake), because why not? Here are the details:

Tickets are on sale for both events now, so get 'em quick before they disappear. Hope to see you there!