Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
In this, the third stop in Colin Mulhern's Clash tour, Colin guest posts about his route to publication:
Writing is a great hobby, and I spent years writing for fun. When I was a kid, I wrote horror and fantasy stories. I sent my first manuscript off at 13 years old: a fighting fantasy novel. I was convinced I’d be rich before I left school, that I’d be signing copies on my lunch break...
... I got my first rejection shortly after.
Despite this, I kept writing. Why? Because it was something I enjoyed. Do the kids who like football only kick a ball about in the hope of making it rich? Course not. They keep kicking. So I kept writing. In my late teens, I moved onto more ambitious horror novels. I sent samples off and collected lots of rejections. I couldn’t understand it. I thought my stuff was ace.
It took until I was 30 to realise where I was going wrong. It was a simple... I was shit at writing!
The thing is, there’s no such thing as natural talent. No matter how much you like kicking a ball, without proper, structured training, you’re probably not going to play for a professional team. It’s the same with writing. If I wanted to be professional, I’d have to take a professional approach. So that’s what I did.
The first thing I did was to go out and buy all the current best sellers, trying to find an area in the current market where I might succeed. I already knew that my two favourite genres, comedy and horror, were both difficult very difficult. From the books I’d bought, I enjoyed the crime novels best, so that’s the genre I settled on. I joined an online writing community where I could get constructive feedback from other writers. I bought books on grammar, going back to basics on how to write English correctly. (I never realised I was making so many stupid mistakes!) Bit by bit, my writing improved and agents began to take interest. I didn’t get a deal, but I did get positive responses instead of the standard photocopied rejection slip. These turned into letters of encouragement. So I kept going, discovered YA fiction and after a few false starts, merged crime with YA and came up with Clash.
Clash caught the attention of literary agent Sarah Manson. With Sarah’s help, I cleaned up the manuscript and really tightened my writing by removing anything not essential in pushing the story along. This was a long process because Sarah knew that when it comes to submitting to publishers, you only get one chance. What’s more, we were in the middle of a recession. Not a good time to sell something that doesn’t fit into any of the current YA pigeonholes.
Just as things were looking glum, three publishers pitched for the book at the same time, and I had to meet them all. I’d always said to Sarah that I was far more interested in getting a good editor than a large advance. For me, Non Pratt of Catnip shone out for her enthusiasm for the book. She had a fantastic mix of humour, excitement and no-bullshit business talk.
Oh, and bright yellow tights. I need to mention them because the reason I decided to take writing seriously was my eldest son. When I turned 30, it became clear just how severe his disability was. If I could make it as a writer, he might have a brighter future (toys for disabled children can be obscenely expensive). Anyway, he’s always loved Big Bird from Sesame Street, so when I saw an editor with bright yellow legs, it sort of topped everything else off.
So that’s it. If you want to succeed in anything, don’t rely on natural talent and luck. Put the work in and cut the odds in your favour.
The Clash tour, which includes guest posts, reviews and a Clash giveaway, has been to My Favourite Books and The Pewter Wolf and tomorrow moves on to Asamum Booktopia.
Many thanks to Colin, Liz Scott and Catnip for the chance to read this strong debut novel.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Kiss Me Deadly Anthology by Trisha Telep (ed)
I got this as I discovered that there is a Forest of Hands and Teeth story in it. And no doubt lots of other good stories in it.
Full of dark seduction and modern romance, this short story collection presents a variety of talented voices sure to satisfy every werewolf, ghost, fallen angel, zombie, and shape shifter's dark desires. For those fresh-blooded teens of paranormal romance, this collection of 13 short stories follows-up the Running Press Teen title "The Eternal Kiss". Paranormal creatures like werewolves, ghosts, shape shifters, and fallen angels round out the characters in these forbidden paranormal relationships.
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
Lauren Kate's irresistible first novel, THE BETRAYAL OF NATALIE HARGROVE, features the most ruthlessly ambitious heroine since Lady Macbeth. Natalie is utterly determined to cement her position at the top of the high school social ladder by becoming prom queen. When it looks like an interfering ex-boyfriend might get in her way, she devises a little prank to humiliate him. But when the prank goes devastatingly wrong, Natalie starts to lose control of her life. Caught in a web of dark secrets, shame and abuse of power, it's not guilt that eventually defeats Natalie. It's fate: the only thing she can't control . . .
Inside Out by Maria V Snyder
Keep your head down. Don't get noticed. Or else. I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous - the only neck at risk is my own. Until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution...
Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell
Ellie was never particularly good at talking to boys—or anyone other than her best friend and fellow outcast, Ruth. Then she met Michael.
Michael is handsome, charming, sweet. And totally into Ellie. It’s no wonder she is instantly drawn to him. But Michael has a secret. And he knows Ellie is hiding something, too. They’ve both discovered they have powers beyond their imagining. Powers that are otherworldly.
Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way . . . together. But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side.
In this electrifying novel, Heather Terrell spins a gripping supernatural tale about true love, destiny, and the battle of good versus evil.
Picked up at London Book Fair
The Rabbit Girl by Mary Arrigan (out now, Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
What is the secret of Mallie's picture? The mystery unfolds as evacuees Tony and Alice escape the terrors of London's Blitz for the Lake District, where they befriend a fascinating and fearless old lady. Many years later, an after-school job in a pet shop enables well-meaning Mallie to buy her mum a drawing of a girl with a rabbit. Could this old picture bring past and present together - and change Mallie's life?
D4rk Inside by Jeyn Roberts (!!!) (2 Sep, Macmillan Children's Books)
Moments after several huge earthquakes shake every continent on Earth, something strange starts happening to some people. Michael can only watch in horror as an incidence of road rage so extreme it ends in two deaths unfolds before his eyes; Clementine finds herself being hunted through the small town she has lived in all her life, by people she has known all her life; and Mason is attacked with a baseball bat by a random stranger. An inner rage has been released and some people cannot fight it. For those who can, life becomes an ongoing battle to survive - at any cost!
Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen - now it's our turn!
Divine Freaks by Fiona Dunbar (just after I'd spotted it in Tesco) Out officially 5 May from Orchard
"Hey, I'm Kitty Slade. Just your average, normal girl, doing, you know, normal stuff. Got a brother (annoying), a sister (quite annoying) and a grandma (she's awesome).
Oh yeah, and one more thing. I can see dead people."
When a ghost turns up in her biology classroom, only one thing's for sure - Kitty Slade's life is about to get freaky...
Montacute House by Lucy Jago (3rd May, Bloomsbury)
Cess works caring for the chickens at Montacute House but on her thirteenth birthday everything changes. She finds a precious locket hidden in the chicken coop and is convinced someone has placed it there for her to find. But the day is overshadowed by fear as a boy's body is found by the river, and then when William disappears, Cess is accused by the villagers of bewitching her best friend. Cess is determined to find William and prove the villagers wrong, but is soon embroiled in a plot that threatens her world and forces Cess to draw on powers she never knew she possessed, powers that will place her life in danger if they are discovered by the villagers. Witchcraft, politics and religious ambition combine in this gripping and wonderfully realised novel set in the Somerset of the 1500s.
Friday, April 15, 2011
First Lines: I first saw Alex Crow in the toilets on my third day in secondary school.
Review: Clash is the debut novel from Colin Mulhern. Set in the North East of England, it documents a year in the life of two twelve-year old boys, Kyle and Alex who are the same age, at the same school but are completely different.
Kyle has a happy homelife with his mum, has a close friend called Gareth and is a talented artist. Alex's parents are a drunk and a bully and he is drawn into the world of illegal cage-fighting; he practises his skills on his fellow school pupils and is known as a psycho.
Clash slowly reveals how the two boys' lives overlap and finally become inexorably entwined with all the tragedy that has ensued.
The point of view alternates between Kyle and Alex with the chapters getting shorter and shorter near the end. Through these duel narratives you get to know the boy behind the psycho label and the pressures on him causing some of his wild behaviour. I was gripped by Clash and raced through it. There are some very tense scenes, especially a chase scene where I was a terrified as the pursued.
Though the boys are only young, the story contains quite a lot of actual violence, or threat of violence, as well as typical boys's jokes about their anatomy and some swearing.
I really enjoyed Clash and look forward to Colin Mulhern's next book.
Check back next week for a guest post from author, Colin Mulhern
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling is published by Oxford University Press on 1 October and is the sequel to Finding Sky which was one of my top ten reads of 2010.
What do you do when your soulmate turns out to be a thief? Steal her, of course. Phoenix was raised within the Community, a gang of thieves with paranormal powers, under the control of a harsh master known as the Seer. The notion that there's a soulmate out there for every person with a paranormal gift is mere myth in Phoenix's world. That is until the Seer gives Phoenix the details of her next target, Yves Benedict. He's more than just her next victim, he is her destiny. To be together, Phoenix must break away from the Community but resistance against the Seer puts them both in mortal danger. Phoenix has never trusted anyone before, now it's time to trust Yves with her life
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Here's the blurb:
HARE MOON: An Original Forest of Hands and Teeth Story is set in the barricaded village of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but takes place years before the novel began. Tabitha, an adult character in the first book, is a teenager who dreams for there to be more to her world. This desire pushes her to sneak past her village gates and into the Forest of Hands and Teeth where the undead reach for her from beyond the fence. And where she meets Patrick, who proves there is life beyond her village. HARE MOON answers questions about how Tabitha the teenager became Sister Tabitha of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Readers will live through the gruesome moment when she realizes just how much she’ll have to give up to live and love among the Unconsecrated.
It appears there are a few short stories set in the Forest of Hands and Teeth world to be tracked down. You can read one of them at Carrie Ryan's website.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
News of a spin-off series was announced yesterday:
NEW YORK, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- HarperCollins Children's Books announced today that it has acquired world rights to THE FAME GAME, a new series by Lauren Conrad—television star, fashion designer and author of the #1 New York Times bestselling L.A. Candy. THE FAME GAME takes place in the world of reality TV and its fashionable starlets, and features a favorite character from L.A. Candy.
Madison Parker made a name for herself as best frenemy of girl-next-door-turned-reality-celeb Jane Roberts in the L.A. Candy books. Now she's ready for her turn in the spotlight and she'll stop at nothing to get it. But with backstabbing friends and family, relentless paparazzi, and tabloid scandals she can't control, Madison is going to have her work cut out for her.
The first book in the three-book series will be published in Winter 2012.
Filled with characters both familiar (producer Trevor Lord and sister-from-hell Sophia) and new (Carmen, daughter of Hollywood royalty, and Jill, a struggling musician), Lauren Conrad's THE FAME GAME dishes gossip and drama at every turn.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Atom has acquired a mystery series by debut author Christi Daugherty described as "The Secret History for the YA audience".
Editorial director Samantha Smith bought UK and Commonwealth rights in the "major" two-book deal from Darley Anderson Children's Book Agency.
Night School follows Allie Sheridon, a 16-year-old who is sent away by her parents to Cimmeria, a school specialising in "problem" teenagers. After she has begun to settle in at the school, Allie and her best friend are attacked in the school grounds, and discover there is something strange about the school linked to the nocturnal activities of an elite group of the students.
"We're absolutely delighted to have found such a stand-out new voice in YA fiction," said Smith. "We immediately fell in love with Allie, and the world Christi's created, and can't wait for her readers to as well."
Night School will be a key title for Atom's 2012 list and will be backed by a major marketing and publicity campaign.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Does this ring any bells with anyone?
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Betrayal by Grace Cavendish (aka Patricia Finney) (I enjoyed Assassin so I'm carrying on with the series until the next reading group meeting.)
In the court of Queen Elizabeth I, Maid of Honour Lady Grace, the Queen's favourite and her very own Lady Pursuivant, investigating intrigues at court. When Grace's fellow Maid of Honour, Lady Sarah, disappears after a trip to meet the Queen's fleet in the docks, Grace knows she has to find out what's going on. She believes Sarah has run away to be married to the handsome Captain Drake – but is she right? With the help of her acrobat friend Masou, Grace leaves the court in disguise in an attempt to track down Lady Sarah and try to save her honour. But this time Grace may be taking on more than she can cope with, as she faces life at sea, and the dangers of pirates! Will Grace and Masou ever return from their ill-fated voyage?
TimeRiders: The Doomsday Code by Alex Scarrow (This should nudge me to read #2!)
Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.
But all three have been given a second chance – to work for an agency that no one knows exists.
Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history . . .
In 1993 British computer hacker Adam Lewis finds his name in a coded manuscript that is almost one thousand years old. How did Adam's name get in there . . . and why?
Confronted by Adam in 2001, the TimeRiders travel back to Sherwood Forest in 1193 to discover the origins of the ancient message. But when a strange hooded man appears interested in the same thing, they begin to wonder what terrible threat this cryptic link from the past holds for the future . . .Review
Prisoner of the Inquisition by Theresa Breslin (Carnegie Medal 2011 shortlisted)
Zarita, only daughter of the town magistrate, lives a life of wealth and privilege. Indulged by her parents, she is free to spend her days as she pleases, enjoying herself in the company of an eligible young nobleman, horse riding, or leisurely studying the arts.
Saulo, son of a family reduced by circumstances to begging, witnesses his father wrongfully arrested and dealt with in the most horrifying way. Hauled off to be a slave at sea and pursued by pirates he encounters the ambitious mariner explorer, Christopher Columbus. Throughout his hardships Saulo is determined to survive - for he has sworn vengeance on the magistrate and his family.
As Zarita's life also undergoes harsh changes the formidable and frightening Inquisition arrives in the area, bringing menacing shadows of suspicion with acts of cruel brutality - and ultimately, amid the intrigues of the court of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in the splendid Moorish city of Grenada, betrayal and revenge...
One Seriously Messed-Up Week: in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite by Tom Clempson (2 June, ATOM)
Our hero? Jack Samsonite His mission? 1) pass his GCSEs 2) get the girl (to notice he exists) 3) survive the week without a serious face punching Good thing he's got a plan. Well, half a plan...
Friday, April 1, 2011
Monthly lists for 2010 can be found here.
I have tried to identify all the British authors which I hope will be useful to those doing the Bookette's excellent British Books Challenge.
Bryony Allen - Otoli (28th, Pneuma Springs Publishing, pb) British author
Kelley Armstrong - The Gathering (7th, ATOM, pb)
Lindsey Barraclough - Long Lankin (7th, Bodley Head, HB) British author
Frannie Billingsley - Chime (4th, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, HB)
Malorie Blackman - Boys Don't Cry (28th, Corgi Childrens, pb) British author
Heather Brewster - The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Tenth Grade Bleeds (7th, Puffin, pb)
Jenna Burtenshaw - Wintercraft: Blackwatch (14th, Headline, pb) British author
Candace Bushnell - The Carrie Diaries: The Summer and the City (28th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, HB)
Candace Bushnell - The Carrie Diaries (28th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Patrick Carman - Thirteen Days to Midnight (5th, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, pb)
Isobelle Carmody - The Keeping Place (Obernewtyn Chronicles) (18th, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb)
Cassandra Clare - City of Fallen Angels (7th, Walker, pb)
Lois Duncan - Don't Look Behind You (7th, ATOM,pb)
Harry Edge - Everybody Lies (Kite Identity) (7th, Hodder Children's Books, pb) British author
Becca Fitzpatrick - Crescendo (28th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Gayle Forman - Where She Went (28th, Doubleday Childrens, pb)
Sasha Gould - Cross My Heart (7th, Puffin, pb)
Michael Grant - Plague (4th, Egmont Books Ltd, HB)
Cora Harrison - Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend (1st, Macmillan Children's Books, HB)
Lisa Harrison - The Ghoul Next Door (7th, ATOM, pb)
Charlie Higson - The Dead (7th, Puffin, pb) British author
Rebecca James - Beautiful Malice (1st, Faber and Faber, pb)
Julia Kagawa - The Iron Daughter (15th, MIRA Books, pb)
Malinda Lo - Huntress (5th, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, HB)
Cliff McNish - Savannah Grey (7th, Orion Childrens, pb)
Rebecca Maizel - Infinite Days (1st, Macmillan Children's Books, pb)
Liz Miles (ed) - The Mammoth Book of Teenage Worriers (28th, Robinson Publishing, pb)
Jaclyn Moriarty - The Spell Book of Listen Taylor (1st, Young Picador, pb)
Mina bint Muhammad - See Red (1st, Urbantopia Books, pb) British author
Natasha Murray - 3004 (28th, Book Guild Publishing, HB) British author
Caragh M O'Brien - Birthmarked (28th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Jackson Pearce - Sisters Red (7th, Hodder Children's Books, pb)
Gillian Philip - The Opposite of Amber (18th, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb) British author
Aprilynne Pike - Wild (28th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Celia Rees - The Fool's Girl (4th, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb) British author
Carmen Reid - Secrets at St Judes: Sunshine Girl (7th, Corgi Childrens, pb) British author
Rob Reger - Emily the Strange: Dark Times (28th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, HB)
Justin Richards - The School of Night: Creeping Terror (1st, Faber and Faber, pb) British author
Veronica Roth - Divergent (28th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Ruta Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray (7th, Puffin, pb)
Darren Shan - The Saga of Larten Crepsley (1) - Birth of a Killer (28th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Darren Shan - The Saga of Larten Crepsley (2) - Ocean of Blood (28th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, HB)
Thomas E Sniegoski - The Fallen: Aerie & Reckoning (28th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Tod Strasser - Blood on My Hands (4th, Walker, pb)
Rachel Vincent - My Soul to Keep (15th, MIRA Books, pb)
Sazu Whyte - Path to War (28th, Book Guild Publishing, HB) British author
BRESLIN, THERESA - PRISONER OF THE INQUISITION
Doubleday (Ages 12+) ISBN: 9781406310276
McCAUGHREAN GERALDINE - THE DEATH DEFYING PEPPER ROUX
Oxford Children's Books (Ages 10+) ISBN: 9780192756022
NESS, PATRICK - MONSTERS OF MEN
Walker (Ages 14+) ISBN: 9780385617031
ROSOFF, MEG - THE BRIDE'S FAREWELL
Puffin (Ages 12+) ISBN: 9780141383934
SEDGWICK, MARCUS - WHITE CROW (review)
Orion (Ages 12+) ISBN: 9781842551875
WALLACE, JASON - OUT OF SHADOWS
Andersen Press (Ages 14+) ISBN: 9781849390484
The winner will be announced on 23 June. Read more at the official website, including the judges' comments.