Thursday, 1 August 2013

The YA Edinburgh Book Hunt!

Welcome to the YA Edinburgh Book Hunt!

We are YA authors who are appearing at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, and we have got together to give away signed copies of our books. To win them all, all you have to do is read this blog, find the highlighted number, and do the task given, below. Then follow the link to the next blog. Once you’ve visited them all – add the numbers together, and email the result to A winner will be chosen at random from correct entries. Open internationally. Closes midnight UK time, 26 August 2013.

For my part of the hunt, I’m giving away a signed copy of Dead Jealous!

My event at Edinburgh this year is part of the schools programme and I'll be talking about what makes a great detective and what I learned about crime and detection while I was writing my first thriller! 

The event takes place at 12 noon in the Ballie Gifford Corner Theatre on the 19th August. 

The Task:
Follow @PoodlePowered on Twitter, and tweet this:

Enter to win loads of signed YA books on the #YAEdinburghBookHunt! Details here:  @PoodlePowered  #YA#giveaway

OR If you’re not on Twitter, tell your friends about it,and leave a comment below, instead.

The next blog to visit is....

Julie Bertagna

Good luck!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

SCBWI Undiscovered Voices literally changed my life!

I entered Undiscovered Voices mostly because a certain other SCBWI member (Ellen Renner) nagged me to. I’d entered the time before and received an honorary mention. That was so amazing that bubbly liquids were consumed and I flew high for about a year. I wasn’t writing total rubbish. Hurrah!
Then along came UV2012 and I have to admit I was reluctant to try again. Having received an honorary mention the first time I was kind of happy to leave it at that. I wasn’t sure my writing had got a whole lot better… so how could I hope to improve on the last time?
I’m so glad Ellen bullied me! Undiscovered Voices was a really amazing experience; from being told that I’d made the long list to the phone call telling me that my extract was going to be included in the anthology. 
To go from being scared to show anyone anything to having agents and editors requesting material from me was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. I think I would have gone a little bit mad if it wasn’t for my lovely friends who talked me down every time I got close to freaking out, plus the UV organisers were on hand with nuggets of trustworthy advice. And that's what so lovely about Undiscovered Voices, it's not an impersonal competition where you're just left to get on with it... instead it's a bit like winning the lottery - there is lots of help and advice on the other side - there's even a training day where you get to meet the other folk in the anthology.
Jenny Savill from Andrew Nurnberg Associates was the first agent to get in touch with me as she’d been one of the judges. That was a huge day. Jenny was my dream agent, and although several other agents requested from me, I knew the minute I met Jenny that she was the right agent for me.
My entry, DEAD JEALOUS was by no means perfect. I spent a few weeks revising the manuscript with Jenny before it then went out to editors. Orchard, incidentally, were the very first publisher to get back to Jenny to say that they might be interested... a month or so later, the sale was agreed and Dead Jealous found a home.

It seemed so right that in the week that UNDISCOVERED VOICES 2014 opened to submissions, DEAD JEALOUS was published in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. If it wasn't for UV2012 I doubt I'd even be submitting to agents, let alone be finishing writing my second book.

I owe the hugest of huge thanks to everyone involved in Undiscovered Voices. Through your hard work... well, look...
Thank you!

So that's what it was like for me, I wonder what it's like on the other side of the fence? 

I'm delighted to welcome my fabulous agent, the very lovely Jenny Savill (@JennySavill1
who was one of the judges of UV2012...

As an agent, what was the best thing about being involved in Undiscovered Voices 2012?      
Discovering a certain Sharon Jones, a single-minded teen sleuth called Poppy Sinclair and a dog called Dawkins...
*blushes* You would say that! 
But what was it like being in the judging room? Were there fights?       
It was fun and interesting in the judging room. I think we all knew how privileged we were to be reading and selecting the entries. It is a big responsibility, making decisions that can and do affect writers' careers and I think we were all aware of that. The discussions we had were fascinating and it was interesting to see how different the judges' responses could be to a single title. Some could be keen, others less so and it was so interesting to hear what had appealed and why. There weren't actual fights - Sara O'Connor was very strict with us! - but rather impassioned pleas by judges who felt strongly enough about a submission to make the case for it to be in the anthology. There was general agreement on most titles selected. As an agent, it was interesting to see, through the process of selection, with which editors' taste I was most aligned. (I naturally made a mental note for later!)

What makes a submission stand out?       
A beginning that hooks you in straight away and leaves you wanting to read on. A strong, clear voice. The clear intention of the author to grip the reader and pull them into the story. The ability to show, not tell. Humour. Atmosphere. A point of difference. 

What are your top tips for people entering this year?      
The judges want to be blown away - so blow them away! With a character they will fall in love with, an authentic voice that cannot be ignored, a setting - familiar or otherwise - that is yet to be explored, or a predicament which will leave them desperate to read the whole novel in order to find out how things will be resolved. These are the elements that the winning entries tend to have going for them. Good luck!
Thanks, Jenny! So there you have it. Undiscovered Voices isn't the only route to publication but it can be life changing - it was for me! 

Best of luck to everyone who enters this year!  

You can download a free copy of Undiscovered Voices 2012 HERE
You can find out about how to submit to Undiscovered Voices 2014 HERE!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Quarter to midnight...

It's quarter to midnight as I write this post.
Most sensible people are tucked up in their beds. 
Not me. 
For me tonight is the writer's equivalent of Christmas Eve. 
In just fifteen minutes more a book will officially be published.
Not just any book, but my book.
My book! 
Can you believe it? 
Never thought I'd see the day. 
But there it is.
It's official: dreams can come true.

So, a few words of thanks...

to Ellen Renner, who made me enter Dead Jealous into UV2012
and then read every draft there ever was!
To all the editors and judges of Undiscovered Voices,
especially Jenny Savill of ANA who with one email changed everything
...and then went on to make me change... everything! (Only kidding!)

To Megan Larkin, Rebecca Frazer, Rosalind Turner and all the folks in 
design, publicity and sales & marketing at Orchard Books
for working so hard to turn Dead Jealous from manuscript to book. 

And finally, thank you to all my lovely family and friends
(virtual or otherwise!)
for putting up with me and for being there through all the ups and downs.

Oh, look it's 12.00...



Monday, 1 July 2013

DEAD JEALOUS is off on tour!

To celebrate the launch of DEAD JEALOUS I'm off on a virtual tour, visiting some lovely blogs and talking to some lovely folk along the way. A huge thank you to everyone hosting a stop!

Here's where you'll be able to find me:

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


I was tagged by the lovely Liz de Jagger and Sara Grant in this fascinating meme of books to come. Do go on over to their blogs to read about their amazing books!

Here goes....

What is the working title of your book?

Dead Jealous

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was in the middle of a project that could loosely be described as urban fantasy and had gotten stuck. The structure just wasn’t working and I couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. I started to worry. Would I never be any good at plotting? Was I doomed to the seventh circle of plotting hell for EVER?! Then, like every Joseph Campbell inspired hero, I realised that no help was coming. If I was going to get out of this alive, I was going to have to save myself! ARGH!!! I’d read all the writing grimoires and secrets of plotting texts I could lay my hands on… I drew my sword and thought… hmmm… maybe I should try writing the kind of books I read ALL THE TIME!

*Blinding flash of illumination*

I love murder mysteries. Like other people, I grew up on Agatha Christie so I blame her for starting the addiction. But by the time I was a teenager I was reading LOTS of crime and thriller books. There wasn’t much by way of YA when I was a lass. I am very VERY old. (If someone would like to refute this, then PLEASE DO!)

And so I began thinking about what kind of sleuth I’d like to write. Then one day I was on the bus between Leamington and Warwick, just by the water purification station, and Poppy St John sat down next to me. (Not literally, but work with me here…) I knew who she was, the way she dressed, the way she talked, and how she was feeling. All in about 3 seconds. This doesn’t normally happen to me. I grew out of imaginary friends a long time ago - honest. 

I needed a fun setting and I thought what better place than a Pagan Festival to make my lovely (atheist to rival Richard Dawkins) teenage sleuth squirm.

What genre does your book fall under?

Hmmmm… I guess teen sleuth with a hint of a ghost story and more than a smidgen of kissing. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I love playing this game! My current choices can be found HERE

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Jealousy can be murder.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My wonderful agent is Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg and Dead Jealous will be published by Orchard Books on the 4th July 2013 and can be pre-ordred from Amazon HERE

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first half I wrote over a few months. I worked on something else for a while. Then I wrote the second half in a week's holiday from work. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Difficult!! Maybe Sophie McKenzie? In the adult section… maybe Phil Rickman or S.J. Bolton???

Who or What inspired you to write this book?


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

People think of Mother Nature as a gentle lady. They forget that she's also Death...

Sixteen-year-old Poppy Sinclair (yes, she has had a name change!) believes in quantum particles, not tarot cards, in Dawkins, not druids. Last summer, in a boating accident in the Lake District, Poppy had a brush with death. But the girl she finds face down in Scariswater hasn't been so lucky. As she fights to discover the truth behind what she believes is murder, Poppy is forced to concede that people and things are not always what they seem and, slipping ever deeper into a web of lies, jealousy and heart-stopping danger, she comes to realise - too late - that the one thing that can save her has been right there, all the time.

There’s death, lies and a wicker man with a very large appendage. Oh, and don’t forget the boys…!

Now we're supposed to tag some other folks.. but most people have been multiple tagged... ooh er! So I'm going to tag:

Julienne Durber whose wonderful Springpunk I can't wait to see on the shelves.

Liesel Schwarz whose forthcoming book has one of the most beautiful covers I've seen recently.

Pat Walsh whose next book I can't wait to hear about!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Richard Ashcroft and me...

You remember him - the guy from The Verve? Well not only did I go to the same sixth form college as him (several years later, I hasten to add...) but his step-dad, a guy called Doug Ashcroft, was my high school English teacher. I loved Dougie. He was one of those inspirational teachers who broke all the rules but still managed to stuff you so full of courage and imagination that it really didn't matter that your GCSE coursework was done in a bit of a rush at the end of the year because, well, you'd been busy with other things. And set books? Ha! What were they? 

He was a bit like this guy...

(No books were hurt in the production of this film.. honest, guv!)

Dougie taught us to think for ourselves. To argue and debate. He taught us that not all great literature was written by dead men and women, but that we ourselves were capable of creating beauty. He might not have taught us to spell or the rules of grammar but he inspired us. He drummed into us that the world was big place and that in our imaginations we are all free.

Mr Ashcroft left school rather suddenly because of change in family circumstance and I have always regretted that our relationship ended mid-conversation (quite literally!) But in the strangest of ways, my old high school English teacher is still inspiring me even now. In interviews, Richard Ashcroft has said what a big influence his step-dad had on his life and music, and it was The Verve's song Sonnet that I played on repeat when I was writing Dead Jealous. In fact the song is mentioned in the text twice! (Yeah, I know. you're not supposed to do that. But what can you do? It was all Dougie's fault, he taught me no respect for the rules...)

Anyway, hurray for fabulous teachers who break all the rules! And here's a little something for your listening pleasure...