Thursday, 29 May 2014

LONDON CALLING

Drink, Shop and Do












Last week I went to London to meet up with two Scoobie (SCBWI) friends, Christina and Lesley, who are part of BackachYA, our YA e-critique group. We spent the afternoon in a delightful cafe, in Kings Cross, which is also a shop and night club.

Lesley, me and Christina
Here we are enjoying our tea. I'm not sure if I'm praying for more tea or the loo. That was my second pot of Yorkshire tea.

It was great to get together and meet some of the BackachYA girls behind the photos, and behind the stories we've been critiquing for, well, nearly a year now.

Christina signing
 my copy of Minty



Christina (sound tina like ina in China) was down from Scotland for the launch party of Three Hares Publishing who have published her debut YA novel, Minty, a wonderful, poignant story about her journey through loss. It's a heartfelt book about the relationship between twin sisters who become separated, how they cope and learn to move on. The sense of place is captured beautifully, and I felt I was there, with Minty, every step of the way. 

Looking forward to reading the next one, Christina.

What links Christina to Lesley besides Scoobie and BackachYA? Schools. Christina was a headteacher and now writes full-time, and Lesley works as a school librarian in London. Lesley has self published three YA novels and has more in the pipeline.

Lesley signing
my copy of
Someone Like Me


I read this book on the journey to and from London, and finished it just as the train was pulling in to Leeds. It was the perfect read. Jasmine is discovering who she is as well as trying to solve a murder mystery with her friend, Tess. Her family dynamics play a role in shaping her character, an element of the story I found intriguing. She's playing detective, but is she stalking the right people? There were plenty of unexpected turns in this story that kept me hooked to the end.

Can't wait for another mystery from Lesley.

The first book I read by Lesley was her debut, Her Sister's Voice, a wonderful book dealing with sensitive mental health issues. There are dark elements to the story relating to Leila's psychological battle as she deals with her emotions and those around her.  It's an insightful look into the internal world of the teenager coping with self harm, an important issue for both sexes and all age groups. This book won the Islington Teen Read Award 2014. The follow up is Her Other Voice.

Me? I signed the bill!
Kidding.

It was great to share respective writerly journeys and future plans. Mine is to start submitting next month. Honest, I will press that button. I wish every success to these lovely friends and fine writers. TTFN until we meet again on-line or otherwise.

Happy reading and writing.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

WAS THAT APRIL?

Well, that month is done and dusted. April 1st: Fool's Day didn't stop me from cringing when I pressed the send button to two competitions, and the start of Camp NaNo.

 I entered the #NestPitch Contest where I submitted a 35 word pitch plus the first 300 words of a MS. Though I wasn't successful, it was a useful experience in getting that 'elevator pitch' right. How do you hone your 50k + MS into those few words? It's hard. Try it out.

The other competition I entered was the SI Leeds Literary Prize. I thought I'd left it too late to enter, but they extended the closing date so I thought, what the heck. I pressed send and submitted the full MS. Watch this space.

CampNaNo went okay. The plan was to write 50K. Thankfully I was able to change my word count, something you can't do in the November NaNo, and completed a little over 30K towards my new WIP. I'm excited by this new project.

Oh yeah, there was the #April Extravaganza #ukyaday, part of Project UKYA organised by the lovely Lucy. There were lots of UK Young Adult Fiction promotion, sharing author and book recommendations, and a readathon. I read Shattered by Teri Terry, the last instalment in the Slated trilogy; a dystopian thriller about a girl on a journey to find her true identity. I was running with Kyla to the very end. Then there was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, a wonderful story about a boy dealing with his nightmare. It ate me up and left me crying. Bloody brilliant! And Minty by Christina Banach, her first published novel; a wonderful, poignant story about loss.

Another pitch! I went to the SCBWI workshop: Practical Pitching with Sara O'Connor from Hot Key Books. We worked on our MS title, hook, strapline and three sentence pitch then pitched via 'Hangouts.' It was an invaluable day. I came out with a revised title, a pitch I'm really happy with *thumbs up* and I'm now ready for the next step.

Duh duh duuuuhhh! Submitting to agents. Arh!