Books, For Readers, More of Me, Writing Advice

The SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2017

By Kathryn Evans

Sometimes, when you start on a journey, there are certain dreams that seem ridiculously  beyond your reach but you dream them anyway because they just  keep you going.  And sometimes, ridiculously, no matter how far beyond your reach they seem,  those dreams can come true.

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The Society of Children’s Book writers and Illustrators is an organisation I’ve belonged to for years.  Through SCBWI workshops and critique groups I’ve learned my craft, and as a volunteer I’ve grown a hugely supportive network of friends and colleagues.

SCBWI members are a mix of published and unpublished writers all on a journey to produce the best work they can and I think that shows in the standard of entries for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award.  It’s  a peer-given award to traditionally published writers and illustrators ,  recognising great books from 15 regions around the world.

Here are the  shortlisted titles  for the UK and Ireland in 2017 – I’ve read and loved them all – anyone of them would be a worthy winner.  In fact, if you’ve gaps in your To Be Read pile, take them as recommendations.

patrice - CopyPatrice Lawrence – Orange Boy

A gritty urban thriller with a powerful family drama at its heart – Winner of the Waterstones Prize for Older Children, Shortlisted for The Costa Prize.

 

 

Peter Bunzle – Cogheart cogheart

A steampunk tale of ambition, pursuit and revenge – The Guardian.  Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award.

 

eugene - CopyEugene Lambert

‘A thrilling YA sci-fi adventure reminiscent of Hunger Games and Star Wars … a fantastic page-turner with great characters in Kyle and Sky’  Booktrust

 

Ally Sherrick blackpowder

A gutsy  adventure-packed tale of the Guy Fawkes story told from 12 year old Tom’s point of view as he struggles to save his father in a world that’s against him.

 

 

lyingSue Wallman

In intense psychological thriller selected for the Zoella book Club and  a really brilliant page turner.

 

 

 

And  in case there is still space on your bookshelf, here are some previous winners…

2016

Teri Terrmindgamesy – Mind Games

A complex and futuristic thriller that, even at a hefty 433 pages, will leave you wanting more…another stunning example of Teri Terry doing what she does best (The School Librarian)

Teri has won so many awards I can’t even list them all.

 

2015

ratClaire Furniss – The Year of The Rat

Beautifully written and emotionally charged debut about love, loss and families. Would appeal to fans of Annabel Pitcher. (The Bookseller)
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase, Longlisted for the Cilip Carnegie Medal

 

 

And  the 2017 winner…

Me.

Well… More of Me by Kathryn Evans

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Buy at Hive or Amazon

Dreams really can come true if you just don’t give up.

More of Me by Kathryn Evans, winner of the 2017  Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award for UK and Ireland.

Pinch Me.

 

Books, For Readers, More of Me

More of Me is One Year Old

By Kathryn Evans

I feel like I should have a little birthday tea. One year ago today, my first book was born. After more than 15 years of trying, I became an actual, real life  published author. My debut YA novel More of Me was released by Usborne  to U.K. readers.

The birth was celebrated by many of my  amazing friends. The tribute below was  lead by Candy Gourlay and Amanda Lillywhite, who encouraged enormous numbers of people to do this to their faces and post it all over facebook and twitter.

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Just a few of the many pals who “MorphedofMe” for Launch day.

I was so moved by this, it’s amazing, don’t you think?  And then very many of them turned out for my launch parties – the first hosted by Daunt Books, the second, by Waterstones. You can see loads of pictures here but this is one of my favourites, because it sums up all the support, kindness and squidging  I’ve had along the way:

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All the hugs for SCBWI pal Addy Farmer

I think it’s traditional  to talk about the highs and lows of having a first bookbaby- and at some point I will be doing a post on that for SCBWI’s Words and Pictures   – I’ll link to it when it comes out.  But not here. Here, in the spirit of new motherhood, I’m going to celebrate my book’s first birthday by inviting  a few pregnant friends over…I think I may be taking this metaphor a bit too far…Basically, I’m going to celebrate my book’s birthday with the

Joy of New Books!

During this last year, I teamed up with four other SCBWI debut authors, my fellow Lost and Founders,  and they all have new books out this year. I’ve read one of them, Olivia Levez, The Circus, and loved it. Sue Wallman’s See How They Lie,  Patrice Lawrence’s Indigo Donut  and Eugene Lambert’s Into The No Zone, I couldn’t quite get my hands on yet but I will! I will!  I’m so happy for them, they give me hope! I’m still writing my book 2 ( slacker).

 

I also want to mention Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart – this book was Usborne’s lead debut in 2016 and made a huge and deserved splash. It’s middle grade with a strong story,  wonderful characters and a gorgeous steampunk feel to it. If you haven’t read it,  do – I can’t wait for the follow up, MoonLocket, out in May..need to get working on my dress ups for that event…

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Fellow Slushpiler Teri Terry has a new series launching in May this year, Contagion – I’ve not read it yet but she is consistently good, I loved Book of Lies released this year and I can’t wait for this creepy looking series!

contagion

I am also desperate to read Candy Gourlay’s new book but I don’t know when that’s going to happen – come on Candy, you have readers waiting!! ( I keep nagging int he hope she’ll give me a sneaky peak…sigh…)

I’ve just realised I could go on forever with this list…especially as I want to give a heads up to some brilliant SCBWI authors who have recently been signed to an agent or publishing house and I know are going to produce amazing books: Em Lynas, Sheila Averbach and Lucy Van Smit get on with it gang, I await new treats!

There are so many more, it’s going to be another exciting year for books and hoorah for that.  Now it’s nearly time for cake, but first I must say:

Thank you:

  • Heaps if you were involved in More of Me winning, being nominated for, or long listed or shortlisted for an award. I am beyond grateful. And a bit stunned to be honest.
  • A ton if you read  and reviewed More of Me, or just read  and loved it or  read  and didn’t like it but didn’t slay me in a review – or if you did slay me in a review you did it for the betterment of book kind.
  • A gazillion times if you were involved in anyway in spreading More of Me’s wings worldwide, I love seeing all the foreign editions and hearing from readers all over the world.
  • Mahoosively if you’re a school or library that’s invited me to talk to your children.
  • Endlessly  for encouraging, handholding and being generally fabulous.

And now….CAKE!

Books, For Readers, More of Me

And the winner is…

by Kathryn Evans

The last few days have been unbelievable – first the Carnegie nomination and now this…you guys did this, you awesome, wonderful, lovely, amazing folk – THANK YOU.

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More of Me has WON the Edinburgh International Festival First Book Award and YOU made it happen.

There are not enough thank yous in the world but here are some:

Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Here’s a bit of what I officially said:

I am stunned to have won this award – when I saw the calibre of the other authors I thought I didn’t have a hope. So often children’s fiction is seen as the poor cousin to adult books – yet in it, we tackle some of the hardest subjects in the most innovative of ways. I am so proud to hold the banner up for YA fiction.

You can read the rest here.

Or in The Book Seller !!

And if you want to read it for yourself, well, Amazon’s the easiest route but you can also use Hive or Waterstones or go to your High Street book store or library.

Oh and…

THANK YOU

 

 

Books, For Readers, More of Me

More of Me nominated for Carnegie Medal

By Kathryn Evans

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals. This is because the nominees and winners are chosen by librarians. Only librarians.  And I have haunted libraries all my life.

I’ve blogged about it in the past, this is my post from 2015. I even shadowed the shortlist last year – something I highly recommend – great books and you learn SO MUCH and get to hang out and chat about some of the best books in the country.

It all starts with a list of nominations. It’s usually a very long list and this year is no exception – it is a very long list. But there is one tiny difference this year.

I am on it.

It means so much  I feel like I’ve won already.  I will always be a Carnegie nominated author.

I think I might go and have another little cry.

Congratulations to all the nominees for both the Greenaway and the Carnegie. I am beyond honoured to be on the list with you.

 

 

Books, For Readers, More of Me

More of Me Goes Global!

By Kathryn Evans

There are things you don’t even think about when you’re longing for that first publisher to take an interest in your writing. One of those is foreign rights sales – and they come as such a lovely surprise when they happen. Continue reading “More of Me Goes Global!”

Books, For Readers, More of Me

When a Review Makes you Cry.

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Someone bought More of Me!

I have had some amazing reviews for More of Me. The Book Bag,  Lovereading4kids, Serendipity Reviews, Guardian Children’s books all rated it highly: one of the book sellers in my local Waterstones is pushing for it to be book of the month. Generally it’s been really well received. There’s been some not great reviews too – one on  a  website I love, Luna’s Little Library.   It smarts a bit, but there you go, not all books/characters appeal to all people. I am so grateful to them,  for not only taking the time to read but also to share their thoughts with others.

 

I say that , but the poor reviews, the “meh” reviews, stick in you like a glass splinter – and for a while, I googled reviews obsessively – even, despite stern advice from other authors, checking out Goodreads ( as a reader I’ve always hung out on GR so it’s hard to let that one go!) I worried endlessly about letting down my publisher, my agent – my family – all the people who have invested in me and my book. My mood could swing up or down depending on what someone had said about More of Me. It was ridiculous. I was ridiculous.

And then I had this message – not a public review but sent directly to me, and perspective was restored:

Picture this, I receive a book for Christmas, called Slash, an autobiography of the greatest man on earth). 457 pages on, it’s the 16th May. I finally finish the book – you could say I am a slow reader, aha! I haven’t read a fiction book in years – biographies of people I love have become the norm. Your book, a gift,  is sitting on my shelf  still unread. I have a choice between More of Me and the Beatles. Out of guilt, I pick your book to read (best decision ever made) and within minutes, I’m hooked. 17th May arrives and I am having a super bad day at school but your book was there to get me through it, I was in it with Teva! In the bus, I’m reading it, ignoring my gut feeling that everyone is looking at me, no one reads these days, it’s not “cool”. I get home and only have a few pages left. What is happening? Am I actually choosing to read a book over playing the guitar or watching something on Netflix?

Your book has brought me back to my childhood of actually wanting to read, it was incredible! I can not thank you enough, your book was amazing, HF Age 15

I am still tearful reading it. Because this is what matters.  Making a difference to one girl, on one day and maybe for a bit longer. This is the ONLY reason to cry at a review. Everything else is petals on the wind.

More of Me is available in all UK bookstores – and if it isn’t, you can ask them for it!

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Books, For Readers, More of Me

Identity – Why Growing Up is So Hard.

 

Nicola Morgan Helps Understand.

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Nicola Morgan

Questions of identity are at the heart of my book More of Me.  Teva,  my main character,  really struggles with growing up and, though her circumstances are unique, she’s absolutely not alone in the way she feels. Growing up is hard.  Since the book came out, I’ve been  touched by the number of people who’ve said how much they identified with Teva – in particular with Fifteen and Teva – whose relationship is like two parts of a whole fighting for dominance and understanding.

It was this question of identity that prompted an amazing young woman to get in touch with me.  She has Dissociative Identity Disorder and she suggested  I ask Nicola Morgan, author of Blame my Brain, The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed,   why she thinks some teenagers, even those from relatively stable backgrounds, find the transition from child to adult so difficult?

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Nicola:

The key is your word “transition” – moving from child to adult is a massive change. Obviously life involves change, but there’s a big difference for teenagers: to get from being a protected, dependent child to an unprotected, independent adult, you have to break away and that can be tough. You have to stop automatically believing a) what the adults around you say and b) that they can protect you. This can lead to big anxieties. But growing your own views is part of becoming independent. How can you have your own views if you always believe everything your adults say?

I call adolescence a perfect storm of change.

Everything is changing: inside you (brains, hormones, feelings, understanding of the world, self-knowledge, empathy) and outside you (school, expectations, responsibilities, fears, friends, exams). Change is exciting but it can also be scary. And even if it’s not scary it is very preoccupying! That means you can make mistakes because part of your mind is occupied by all the changes and how  they are making you feel. How we feel affects how we behave so sometimes it’s harder for teenagers to be in control of words and actions because their thoughts can feel so overwhelming. Everyone, of any age, makes more mistakes when under pressure or preoccupied by worries.

 

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Teen me – a tiny bit full of myself on the outside, absolutely unsure of everything on the inside.

Having what you call a “stable” background isn’t always enough to make this easy. In fact, teenagers from “stable” backgrounds can still have a tough time and many from difficult backgrounds can be really resilient. It’s more complicated than simply who and how your parents are. Teenagers are also affected by the people surrounding them at school – in fact, I’m currently writing The Teenage Guide to Friends, because friendship and peer pressure are such a big deal for teenagers.

 

I also think there are things about modern life, with the internet so dominant, that increase the pressure on teenagers compared with when I was a teenager. Pressure to conform to unreachable ideas of perfection, the risks of social media, digital distraction: all these and more can make life tougher. 

Teva, in More Of Me, I think demonstrates perfectly the changes that happen during adolescence, and how hard it is to leave each change behind. I won’t spoil the ending for others by saying whether or not it’s a book about mental illness, but it’s obvious that it is about a girl who is struggling with the changes in herself. She’s incredibly self-conscious, really watching herself change each year. I think you capture that brilliantly!

I think it’s incredibly important to realise that good mental health doesn’t mean always feeling happy but it does mean not always feeling sad.

Anxiety, fear and sadness are normal, healthy emotions but feeling them so much that your life is being spoiled isn’t OK. If that’s you, talk to a trusted adult: there are so many ways we can help! 

I’m so grateful to Nicola, who believe me is so busy it makes my head explode just thinking about it, in taking the time to write this. If you’re struggling and don’t feel there is a trusted adult you can turn to,  you can contact Childline ( if you’re under 16) or The Site, (if you’re over 16). I promise you, there’s help out there, you are not alone x

PS Nicola Morgan is not only a brain expert, she writes amazing fiction too, Wasted is one of my favourite books of all time.

teenage-guide-to-stress-nicola-morgan-210x335-160x255  nic morg tbrain

 

 

Books, For Readers, More of Me, The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

How Facebook Brings You Readers.

 

Want to know my  action plan on how to be media savvy? How to strategise promotions on social media?

Well, sorry, but you’re in the wrong place. Having people try and sell me stuff makes me want to scream. This is more a  reminder  to be a human. Most humans are great. Let me introduce you to Grace and Erin.

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Two Lovely Readers in One Lovely Bookshop.

 

Grace is the very first reader to email me through my website.    Grace and Erin are best friends and they are both  writers as well as readers.  I think Grace has a lovely, fresh tone to her voice.

This is her email:

 

I am writing to praise you about your book ‘More Of Me’. I found it through Cathy Cassidy’s blog post, as Cathy is one of my favourite authors and has been for years. Just by reading the synopsis I knew it was something I’d fall in love with, and the idea was so inviting I had to buy it! I visited a local store to buy with my best friend, and we even had a picture posted on Twitter of us holding the book!
The people at my local bookshop (Write Blend in Liverpool) had said you were wondering what people would think of the idea, and I felt I had to write to reassure you that your book is a masterpiece! I write myself all of the time, and I want to be an author, and More Of Me wowed me. It’s amazing how you could come up with an idea so out of the ordinary. More Of Me was actually the best written book I think I have ever read, and I mean that. And please bear in mind that I’ve read hundreds of books, ha ha!
I loved the way that throughout the book you tamed the crazy thing that was taking over Teva and managed to make her and her life very relatable, despite her condition. The book was just so beautifully written, the story line was inviting and it had a way of taking me  on the journey Teva was experiencing- I cried and laughed hysterically along with her.
My friend is currently reading the book, as I recommended it to her, and within reading two chapters she’s already vowing that it’s her favourite book!
I just thought I’d write to tell you how amazing I found More Of Me, and that i really hope you continue writing books!

Aside from being touched that Grace had taken the time to write, I was  completely thrilled to hear that she’d enjoyed my book. So much so that she’d passed it on to Erin, who then emailed me too!

I’m Erin – Graces best friend, we bought your book together at write blend. I’m writing to tell you that I’m reading the book at the minute and I’m really really enjoying it ! Me and Grace LOVE Cathy Cassidy and she’d recommended it on her website ! Grace told me about it and I said we’ll have to buy it. So, Me and Grace then planned a trip to write blend to buy your book and ended up on Twitter !!

Grace and I want to be writers when we’re older and you and Cathy Cassidy have certainly inspired us ! Thanks so much Kathryn, I’m excited to see what happens in the end of “more of me” the only bad thing will be finishing it !

Erin’s voice sings with excitement , don’t you think? Definitely two young women with the gift of immediacy in their writing style.  As I was reading their emails, I was  struck by the journey it had taken to get into their hands. From Cathy Cassidy to Write Blend to Grace to Erin…a word of mouth journey that started on…

Facebook.

For that’s where I met Cathy Cassidy who I later met  in real life when she was one of our keynote SCBWI conference speakers.

It’s also where I met Bob Stone, owner of Write Blend, and where Bob and I discovered we went to the same University in North Wales and (obviously ) share a passion for books.

write blend

I didn’t bombard Cathy and Bob with messages requesting they sell my book for me. They’re just nice humans.  We got on. Had nice chats. Shared values. They wanted to help me.

So here’s the best bit of advice I can give you about promoting your book on any social media.

Don’t.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Write the best book you can.

  2. Be visible but not demanding.

  3. Give more than you take.

  4. Be a good human.

That’s it.

That last one  works for other stuff too.

Like  life.

Thank you Grace and Erin and Bob and Cathy and all of you who’ve been so brill along the way.

You’re top humans and I’m proud to be the same species.

 

 

Books, For Readers, More of Me

Wonderful World Book Day!

Things I should be doing:

Writing the last quarter of my new novel (I’m getting there, OK?)

Food shopping ( we’ve got crisps, it’ll be fine)

Working on the edits for the US version of More of Me ( I will, I will)

Things I am actually doing:

Looking at these fab pictures from last week’s World Book Day visits.  Thanks for having me Bishop Luffa School and La Retraite RC Girls School – you were totally fab in every way!

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Lunch time crew and Bishop Luffa!
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Peepee is peaking out from behind the daffodils!
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Recommending some of my favourite new books.

 

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Wonderful Staff at La Retraite!
Books, For Readers, More of Me

How writing YA helped me make sense of my childhood – Scottish Book Trust

Kathryn Evans explains how she was inspired to write her acclaimed debut

Source: How writing YA helped me make sense of my childhood – Scottish Book Trust