For Readers

Lost and Found Hamper Giveaway!

 

Updated 09/10/2016: The REVEAL is at the bottom of the page!

To celebrate the launch of the Lost and Found tour and the debut of these fabulous books:

Continue reading “Lost and Found Hamper Giveaway!”

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

Second Book Syndrome

Well Meaning Pal ( WMP) “Hey Kathy, how’s the new book coming along?”

Me: Look at this thing I did on Instagram.

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WMP: So the new book..?

Me: Yeah, sorry, I’ve got fencing training, and I don’t want to be late…

 

WMP: I heard it was much easier to get a second book published.

Me: WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH?

Thank god for writer friends on Facebook reminding me I am not alone. I love you. You are all fab. And hey, it’s not QUITE that bad (now.)

Last week I wanted to put a brick through my computer.

Now, I’ve just started on the fourth draft, the one where I tweak all the relationships, and you know what?  It’s not rubbish.  I like it. Some of it, I really like.

Of course that’s today. Tomorrow I might be reaching for the brick…

Brick

 

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas From?

Writers are asked this ALL the time. And the truth is, ideas come from everywhere, you just have to be receptive to them. Listen to conversations for the hidden under tones, read newspaper articles with a writer’s eye – ask:

“What if?”

at every possible situation. I find trying to force ideas quite hard but if I remain open, little seeds sow themselves and start to sprout. Today however, it was not so much a seed as a fully planted tree.

This was passed on to me this morning:

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British Pharmocopoeia

This book used to belong to my mother-in-law’s mother, Isabelle Keymer.  Isabelle began training as a pharmacist at a time when young women were not encouraged to go out to work. Unfortunately for her, family circumstances meant she was not able to complete her training – when her mother died she was expected to stay home and look after her father and she did exactly that. I suspect she wasn’t given a great deal of choice.   Male privilege held her back more than once in her life. I’m so glad I got to meet her, though it was just the once shortly before she died. Even then, post a leg amputation, she was  a strong, kind, determined and interesting woman. It’s not hard to see where my daughter has inherited her academic brain and drive from.

Isabelle’s life is an interesting story in itself but then  I opened the book and saw the first page:

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Graffiti!!! Joy of joys, look at this page – not only is this a first edition published in 1864 (book swot alert) but someone, judging by the copperplate hand-writing possibly the first owner – has completely defaced it! Isabelle clearly wasn’t the first person to use this book – so who on earth was Rice Forsyth? Page after page is full of Rices’ amendments:

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This is pure magic for a writer.

J. K. Rowling uses the device of a hand me down book with just these kind of amendments  in Harry Potter and the Half Blood  Prince! Oh, what a happy hour I’ve just spent looking through the book and wondering…What if?

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it Like? Things you don’t know before you’re published.

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Here are a few unknown unknowns – things you need to do as a published author that you never even guessed at:

  • Blog posts, heaps of them , which is GREAT, because I am a massive chatterbox and they allow me to chatter. I’m blogging at Notes from the Slushpile ,  YAshelfies,  and on all sorts of yummy blogs of friends who have invited me , or not friends who’ve been wrangled into it by the fab publicity team at Usborne.
  • Keep secrets. Literally, every  contract for a deal or an event has to be kept under wraps until someone says “Go!” That is HARD when you never shut up.
  • Be aware of your behaviour on social media- this isn’t just about not swearing and calling everyone a walrus , this also means being present. I tweet therefore I am.
  • Read! Oh so much wonderful reading that you don’t have to feel guilty about. It’s work!! I have read so many great books in the last month alone – Cat Clarkes’ The Lost and Found, Hilary Freeman’s When I was Me, Sarah Crossan’s One, Liz Coley’s Pretty Girl Thirteen – and these are just my favourites!
  • Fill in German tax forms. I know – who knew? Well, my agent, obviously.
  • Make difficult decisions about overseas publishers that probably aren’t as difficult as you think if you can stop being an arse for five minutes. It’s fine, I got over it. Twit that I am.
  • Find more time – I know. I thought I could do it all but turns out writing  without deadlines is a whole lot easier to fit in than writing with deadlines. Especially when you’re fitting in all the promotional stuff.

And you know what? I love all of it! Except maybe the tax forms. Definitely not the tax forms.

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

How the SCBWI Conference Blew My Mind

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My Seawig of Books! All the launching SCBWI Titles of 2015 Awesome Photo by: Candy Gourlay

 

Every year I think this year’s conference has been the best ever but this year, it really might have been. Was it just me or did we fill Winchester with enough warmth and creativity to power a small ship? And what about it really blew my mind?

Was it our fantastic, if bonkers, keynote speakers who set the tone for a fabulous weekend? Sarah Macintyre & Philip Reeve, Jonny Duddle and David Fickling were all inspiring and hilarious.

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With Sarah Macintyre and Philip Reeve – two of our AWESOME keynotes. They sold out of books, our lovely bookseller sneaked back to one of the shops and got me one! Thanks David from  P.G.Wells in Winchester!

Was it because we had a great break out program which showed me the way to go with my school visits, fixed a HUGE plot problem I was having (Candy Gourlay you GENIUS) and answered many tricky questions under The Cone of Silence?

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Candy Gourlay’s Structure Break Out was exactly the butt kick I needed.

Was it the fringe critique or the killer 1-2-1 that may have been hard to hear but was absolutely the medicine my younger fiction needed? Thanks David Maybury –  honesty was definitely the best policy. I’ve stopped crying now.  I’M KIDDING – it’s all good.

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With  George Kirk (valiant organiser), Steve Hartley (school visit genius), Philippa Francis ( all round good egg)

It may have been  the awesome party, celebrating the success of all our new SCBWI books published this year. Or was it just the gathering of the clan? The cementing of of old friendships?

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Addy Farmer, Me in a Wig, Teri Terry

The sparking of new ones?

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Dom Conlon fellow FunEverser.

 

Robin Stevens, I wish I could post our pictures but what happens in the bar, stays in the bar…

It was all those things because all those things embody SCBWI.  The sharing of our craft, our knowledge, our experience, our friendship. And that true symbol of SCBWI,  giant pants.

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Steve Hartley Doing His Thing.

 

 

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like: Copy Editing (or taking constructive criticism when you don’t expect it).

Space for where my book will one day sit!
Space for where my book will one day sit!

I’ve done it, more-or-less. More of Me is finished – there’ll be the possibility of minor tweaks when the proof copies are ready but all the tough writing stuff is done, including the final stage, COPY EDITS.

My Facebook pals, and worse, my Twitter followers (why don’t they let you edit tweets? I never see my mistakes until it’s too late!) will suspect any copy editor  of mine deserves a medal. My typos are disgraceful but I was very careful with my script. I spell checked until my fingers bled before I sent it off, but there were still things that came back needing correction. Some of which, for the first time since the edit process began, rankled.

It wasn’t the formatting things:

‘Speech marks’ should be “speech marks”.

Indentations should be

Indentations.

It was questions like this, “Why is Teva pretending to be dyslexic”:

She’s supposed to be good at English – offering to help Ollie and agreeing to help Tommo – not the most convincing excuse?

Now, if Sarah, my wonderful editor, had written that, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all – so why did I have a niggle of irritation?

Maybe because I’m vainer than I think? And also, more stupid? Sarah tempered her critiques with  a lot of back patting so, even if her comments meant a ton of work, I didn’t mind. We were making a better book. It was all good.  There was no back patting from the  copy editor. This was a sweep through the mansucript picking up any outstanding issues. And instead of being grateful for this last chance to get things right, this fresh pair of eyes on my work,  I was thinking:

“But you don’t know me, you don’t know my book.”

I was, to put it bluntly, being an arse. Everything the copy editor raised was valid – how could it not be, it was her professional opinion? And I needed it – if she didn’t understand what I was trying to say, I had better go back over it and work out why.  So I did, and quite often she was right – and now, of course, I’m grateful to her attention to detail.

I’m grateful, too, that it got me thinking about my own response to constructive criticism. I’ve always thought I was pretty good at it – you know, not too precious but fairly steady in my own self belief. Clearly, not so much.

This was timely in more ways than one. My beloved SCBWI critique group has been having a heart to heart – when we started out, none of us were published. We had no real deadlines and no one to please but ourselves. We could be gentle with our critiques, and rightly so – the first rule of critique is:

Do No Harm

But now many of us have, or nearly have, agents and publishers and a firm, critical, honest eye might be the difference between success and failure – or a shed load of work further down the line. We’ve moved up a level and our critiques need to follow or we aren’t being fair to each other.

There comes a point when you  need to lift your chin  and listen.You might not agree with what’s being said, and that’s fine, but do listen, then take a breath, and listen again. It’s quite likely, no matter how hard it is to take, that there’s something you should be hearing.

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A rare meet up of some of my YA Critique Group

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Crazed Author in Panic
The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like?….Phase Two of the Editing Process

Regular readers will gather, from the huge gap in posts, that Phase 2 of Editing More of Me has been somewhat more stressful than Phase 1. There are a number of reasons for this: Continue reading “What’s it like?….Phase Two of the Editing Process”

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like…Signing Contracts

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IT’S GREAT!!!!!!

That’s pretty much it – except to say it takes a loooooong time. Or this one did. Lots of behind the scenes negotiation in which my agent, Sophie Hicks, more than earned her money. The skeleton deal was done four months ago, in November 2014.  My first lot of edits have already gone back. Still, this felt like a significant milestone on my publishing journey Continue reading “What’s it like…Signing Contracts”