The nights are drawing in fast, like someone has cast a foggy Transylvanian blanket of mystery across the land (or so I like to think) and I hope you’re all adjusting to the change in season well; successfully avoiding colds and looking forward to cosy days and nights full of reading whilst wearing Pinterest-able Nordic jumpers. Tbh, here in the UK jumpers are only put away for about two months out of the year. I’m currently sinking my teeth into Laura Dockrill’s YA novel, Lorali. It’s a quirky, engaging ‘tale’ (haha, wait for it) about a mermaid who turns up on the Sussex coast (my home, yay!) I’m also massively looking forward to visiting the U.S next month for my first ever Thanksgiving!
In the meantime though I’m trying to concentrate on some last-minute edits to my manuscript whilst simultaneously performing valuable writerly research (read: procrastinating) on t’interweb. Here are a few of my favourite finds:
• Words and Pictures, the SCBWI British Isles magazine. Ok, so I’ve known about this fantastic online magazine for a while, but I always find it helps me refocus when I check it out again. It’s a very comprehensive site and you don’t have to be a member to use all the features (though perhaps I should become a member? Another thing I haven’t yet got round to). These guys have their heads screwed on tight and you can find articles, interviews and podcasts on everything from marketing and making a living to writing great picture books, proofreading and what agents and publishers are looking for. They have a brilliant debut author series that covers the realities of the publishing journey from an insider experience. My favourites are the ‘ask a publisher’ podcasts. Interviewers get the scoop from senior figures in the industry and deliver it straight to yer lug’oles via the horse’s mouth.
• Yonks ago I signed up for emails from Love Reading 4 Kids, a book recommendation site for kids and parents that was originally pointed out to me by a tutor on my MA. It is dedicated to helping kids discover and choose exciting books that will actually get them reading, and it includes reviews by the kids themselves. They have a dyslexia-friendly category and generally just ooze enthusiasm and passion for individualised recommendations. I received my usual email covering the best new children’s books, and was excited to find that the latest novel by my tutor/mentor at BSU, CJ Skuse, is October book of the month! It’s called Monster, it’s YA and described as ‘a supernatural heart-stopping thrill-ride with sardonic humour, just right for teen readers.’ The cover is also gorgeous! You can check it out here, along with reviews by teens, and also browse the rest of the site.
• On this blog I found an interesting article by author Candy Gourlay which analyses the term ‘middle-grade’ and provides a handy reminder of what ‘the reader in the middle’ needs from their fiction. It would make a great final tick-box for a MG manuscript. Personally I need to remember this one, when my writing gets a touch too dark: ‘The Reader in the Middle has their whole future ahead of them—they need hope.’
• How Writing Short Stories Can Make Your Novels Better, an article from the folks over at the Writers and Artists Yearbook, popped up on my Facebook feed. It talks about the value of the rookie writer (or a writer at any stage, I’d wager) honing their craft through the tight discipline of short story writing.
• Finally, THIS: Rooftoppers is one of my very favourite books. I must have mentioned it at some point in a previous post. Well, it’s time to celebrate because Katherine Rundell’s next book, The Wolf Wilder, is out! She wrote this while visiting her mother in Zimbabwe and wrote with huge blocks of ice on her feet in order to capture the experience of being so cold that ‘your little toe might drop off’…how to process such amazingness? I am desperate to get my mitts on this. Watch Katherine reading from the book and see why (best opening line ever?)
There are also other Bloomsbury videos on YouTube where she talks about the book and about writing. Interestingly, she uses a café noise app! (I may have to investigate.) She also makes this wonderfully succinct, accurate nod to the childhood imagination, which would be a good one to pin above my writing desk:
‘You build kids a house, and they make it a castle.’
FYI if you sign up to Love Reading for Kids you can download a free extract from The Wolf Wilder.
Over and out for now. Next time I check in I’ll be preparing to ingest an enormous quantity of pumpkin pie, with any luck.