Blogaversary (and why I don’t really blog much anymore…)

sesame12I’ve been blogging for twelve years today. Twelve years. I had to double-check when I thought about it this morning because how can it be twelve years? But I know it must be, because I started blogging before I had a book out (and that’s five years this May) and I started blogging before I had any kids (and my oldest is eleven in June) and I started blogging before I started writing professionally (and I’ve been self-employed for ten years in October), but still… twelve years. Blimey.

It seems a bit odd to celebrate it though, because I hardly blog anymore. The type of stuff I used to write on my blog I now mostly put on Facebook. And the rest of the time (pretty much all of the time) I’m just chatting away on Twitter. I’m also on Tumblr a bit (mostly for the Harry Styles gifs, ngl) and I’m loving Instagram.

sunnyI’m also writing, writing, writing. Just not here. The second book in the Reel Friends series, Spotlight on Sunny, is out next month. Counting Stars comes out with Hot Key Books in September. And then there’s another as-yet-unannounced book at the end of the year. And plotting and planning for more more more.

Things have changed a lot in twelve years…

NaNoWriMoVersary

I wasn’t planning to do NaNoWriMo this year – I’ve got one book to rewrite and another to finish by the end of December – but then I realised that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the first time I took part, which was also the first time I finished a novel. Which led to me writing another novel. Which led to me getting an agent. And a book deal. And being what I am now, a professional writer. (Apparently I’m not professional enough to write that without wanting to add some sort of disclaimer, but I’ve managed to stop myself.) (Sort of.) So, in the spirit of nostalgia, I thought I’d hunt out the first thing I ever wrote about NaNoWriMo, on my (old) blog on 1 November 2004:

squirrel-winner-100.jpg.htmlPosting may be a bit erratic over the next month, now that NaNoWriMo has started. I’m only allowing myself to post on here once I’ve written the day’s NaNo. I’m aiming for 2,000 words per day – it has to be more than 1,666 which is 50,000 (words) divided by 30 (days in November).

You can read it here [not anymore you can’t] or if you click the ‘Chick Lit’ pic [Chick Lit!] or the link over there (assuming I’ve got it to work). The working title is Be My Baby. [This was an adult novel I never managed to get past 50,000 words. Last year I finally reworked it and it was published as an ebook novella by Hot Key Books – All I Want for Christmas under the name Esme Taylor.] Let me know what you think. [You could still do that if you read the novella. I’m really proud of it.]

David’s doing it too and he’s being interviewed by Mark Lawson for Front Row on Radio 4 this afternoon. I think the interview will be going out tonight between 7.15 and 7.45. [David still brags about this.]

So that we can both do it, I have to write in the day (how that’s going to work when I go back to work next week, I don’t know) and he’ll have to write at night. Which means I have to cook tea. Luckily David got the new Jamie Oliver for his birthday and it’s wonderful, so I’ve already planned out this week’s meals (and we’ll get a takeaway on Fridays as a reward!).

Anyway, I managed 1,854 words this morning while Harry was napping (although I forgot he was supposed to be having his jabs today and I missed the appointment – bad mother) [baby Harry!]. Will have to think tonight about what I’m writing tomorrow.

The rest is history. Well, not history. But four published novels (and two novellas) and two more novels coming out next year. (And I don’t cook anymore. That very Jamie book is in the charity shop pile in the corner of my office right now. Sorry, Jamie.)

Some exciting news

I’m happy and proud to announce that I’ve been awarded a Grant for the Arts by Arts Council England. The purpose of the grant is to support me in writing my next novel, All Together Now (due out next year), which is, of course, completely brilliant (the support, not the novel) (that’s only ok so far) (although I am really enjoying writing it), but I’m also thrilled to feel like my writing is worth supporting.

I first heard about Arts Council grants about ten years ago when I was first starting to really take my writing seriously. I looked at the form with its questions about ‘artistic development’ and who will ‘benefit’ from your ‘art’ and went “Pfft, god, I don’t know” and decided it was not for me, it was for Proper Artists. So applying was a pretty big step and I really didn’t think I’d be accepted. I sobbed my head off when I got the letter.

So thank you Arts Council England and thank you to lovely Zoe Marriott for all her help and encouragement.

Print

Touring without moving

Keris Starring Kitty coverLots of lovely bloggers are currently hosting me on a blog tour for Starring Kitty.

You can read the first two chapters of the book on my publisher’s blog, Catnip Books…

Learn why I do love to be beside the seaside with Rachael Lucas…

Lovely Stephanie Burgis asked me some probing questions

I picked my Top 5 Fictional Couples for Peter Jones…

Told Sister Spooky why book people are the best people (plus bonus random questions)…

Shared my dreams and regrets with Jax at Live Otherwise…

And answered yet more probing questions, this time from Carly at Writing from the Tub

A fab chat with lovely Rhian Ivory – who got me to reveal lots of writing secrets (spoiler alert: I’m rubbish at making stuff up) – at Author Allsorts

I wrote about why Kitty’s mum has multiple sclerosis for my lovely friend Laura’s blog, Littlestuff….

Another interview, this time with Caroline at Their Queer Materials

And finally, I share my five favourite films with Jim at YAYeahYeah.

London, baby!

Last week, I had one of the best days I’ve ever experienced. In the morning I had an exciting sekrit meeting and then, along with author friends Keren David and Candy Gourlay, I went to Buckingham Palace.

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We were invited to a garden party by the Red Cross because of the money we raised with the Authors for the Philippines auction at the end of last year. I’ve wanted to go to a Palace Garden Party since I was little, when Swap Shop had one (The Wombles were there), so I was very excited. But I didn’t really have any idea what to expect.

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In the end, it was glorious. Much more relaxed than we’d expected it to be. It was a really hot day, the gardens were beautiful (there’s a lake there! I had no idea!), the food was wonderful, and we met some really lovely people. In the taxi afterwards all I could think was “I’ve just spent the afternoon eating cucumber sandwiches at Buckingham Palace…” Amazing. Thank you so much to the Red Cross for inviting us. And thank you to Candy for the photos.

From there, we went to lovely James Dawson’s book launch (for Say Her Name, which is too scary for me to read), where I chatted to lots of other lovely publishing people. Well, I say “chatted”, it was mostly me saying “I’VE BEEN TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE, YOU KNOW?!” And then went for dinner with author friends (and had the best steak I’ve ever tasted).

It was just a perfect day.
And all of it came out of writing.
Out of the YA writing community that I am so lucky and so honoured to be a part of.

Want to write YA?

96d370_41c299299b034fb4a2343ef2fb06cde1.jpg_srz_116_112_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzI’m running my Writing for Teenagers online course again from… today. (It’s June? Seriously? Blimey.)

On this eight week online course you’ll learn:

What young adult fiction actually is (and how to decide what age group you actually want to write for).

How to come up with inspired ideas.

How to create believable characters.

How to write convincing dialogue.

How to grab readers right from the first page and keep them hooked to the last.

The teen fiction cliches you may want to avoid (or not!).

It will basically be eight weeks’ access to the contents of my head. But, you know, in a good way.

(Plus I share my edit notes AND I’ve bothered a bunch of top YA authors for their tips.)

The price is £50. For the full course. Payable in advance via Paypal.

To put your name down – or if you have any questions – please email me.

Nice things people have said:

“This course is an ideal introduction to the YA genre. The reading list is excellent and varied and the discussions were thought provoking. I especially enjoyed Keris’s posts on writing, which dispelled some of the myths I had about writers and inspired me to give it a go myself (now I know everyone gets stuck in the middle!). Another plus point for me was that the course was flexible and therefore easier to fit around work and family.” Suzanne Adams

“Keris provided detailed examples and lots of really useful resources that I can return to and explore further. Keris’s links with a range of YA authors is apparent and many have kindly shared their writing experiences. It’s really useful to see that range so you finally get a feeling that one size doesn’t fit all and that there really isn’t only one right way to write. What this course does, is to start to help you find the right way for you.” Kirsty Stanley

“The course for me was well rounded and packed with enough information/guidelines for the novice writer to put together a jolly good book. It’s the best fifty quid I’ve spent in a long time.” Paula Smith

“This is such a friendly and fun way to learn about writing for teenagers. You can contribute as much or as little as you like, read and review some great YA books, and pester the tutor with those questions you’ve always been too afraid to ask. I know I did!” Helen Maslin

“So inspiring and informative! I found the whole approach a brilliant way in to talking about the issues surrounding writing and editing YA.” Harriet Reuter Hapgood

“This course was perfect for getting a better understanding of what makes good YA fiction. Using the books on the reading list along with Keris’ questions helped me to think deeply about different writing styles, what worked for me and what didn’t. Keris also gave us lots of tips and links to resources. The course was fun, not overly time-consuming, and practical. And I particularly welcome the opportunity to post some of my writing up for feedback. Absolutely worth the money, thank you.” Alison Clayton-Smith

“I’ve loved the course. It’s been supportive, inspiring and helpful. It’s given me more confidence and enthusiasm to keep going.” Lesley Taylor

Introducing the WoMentoring Project

I’m excited and proud to be taking part in this project.

What’s it about?

WoMen3The WoMentoring Project exists to offer free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.

The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors.

Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project – from the project management to the website design to the PR support – is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project.

Why do we need it?

WoMentoringIllo1CropWebLike many great ideas the WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers – largely writers, editors and agents – who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.

The WoMentoring Project is run on an entirely voluntary basis and all of our mentors are professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given.

In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.

Applications

WoMentoringIllo3WebIn an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn’t possible so instead we’ve tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that out mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.

Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about how they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be for a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. Selections will be at the mentor’s discretion.

You could even be mentored by me

Logo and illustrations designed by Sally Jane Thompson