People You Should Follow On Twitter

Another quick one this week, delving into the really quite sweet community of YA readers / writers on Twitter.

I should probably say that I actively, in-my-bones hate the title and first sentence of this post. There’s something about writing about social media that makes me feel like my teeth are glued together with syrup. I’m a fairly sporadic Twitter user (which means I mostly forget I have it, then have intervals of ‘shit, I was supposed to be trying to build a following and I haven’t tweeted in a fortnight’, swiftly followed by ‘so…how does one build a following again?’), but as my tweeting mostly revolves around my writing, so do most of my follow-ees.

So, having been all over my feed for YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) this past weekend: here’s my pick of favs to follow in the writing (often specifically YA/children’s writing) community, just in case you care:

@sarahcrossan – YA writer

@WalkerBooksYA – YA dept for Walker Books. Duh.

@canongatebooks – whoever Canongate’s social media manager is, s/he deserves a raise.

@acaseforbooks – Anna James, who knows/reads/recommends a lot

@matthaig1 – writer

@HaggardHawks – this has provided me with more character names than will ever be useful

@Patrick_Ness – if you haven’t heard me talking about him you must be very new

@junodawson – YA writer

@ClaireWingfield – editor and literary consultant

@johngreen – YA writer / professional internet-er (shh, it’s a thing)

Sorry for another scab post, there’ll be a real one up soon, I promise! ‘Til next time.



A spade is a spade, and this is a Placeholder Post.

Er…oops. Again.

I don’t even have an excuse as to why I forgot to post two blogs in a row, and then randomly came back on a Wednesday. I’ve been kinda busy, and fairly ill, and mostly lazy. So to make up for it (as I’m sure you’ve been crying yourself to sleep), I don’t have a post, but I am going to leave you with a random collection of my favourite gifs.

And (hopefully), I’ll see you on Monday.

dance hit baby


go faster

i regret nothing (5)it's dinner time

Enjoying the Unopened Box

So I’m guessing most of you know what Schrodinger’s Cat is, but for the sake of clarity; the idea as far as I understand it (and I’m quite sure it’s infinitely more complicated than the way I understand it) is that if you put a cat in a box with a bunch of other nasty stuff, then until you open the box, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead – in that, until you open the box, you don’t know which it is. Now my knowledge of physics is limited to some half-remembered, disconnected GCSE facts, but this I actually understand. (Well, sort of – I did have to clarify with Pete that this was just a ‘thought experiement’, and that Schrodinger didn’t actually put a cat in a box and wait for it to die.)

Currently, I feel like I have a (metaphorical) cat in a box.

Bear with me.

So last Friday morning I pottered into New Writing North to edit some Cuckoo reviews, got myself set up, opened the various tabs I need for work and the various others I have open anyway. When I got to Twitter, I saw this:


Now my initial feeling was, obviously, excitement. Then anxiety. Then, when I looked sideways at how many reviews I had to edit that day, a wince. But hey, let’s be honest, it was a small miracle I’d bothered to check Twitter in the 24 hours I had to find out about this; I wasn’t going to pass the opportunity up.

So, intending to send tweet-pitches for both my new project and the book I’ve been submitting, I cracked on. I started with the new project, because a hook occurred to me pretty much immediately. For the interested, this was my pitch:

“What if YOU were your own currency? Sweets cost eyelashes, a car costs a memory, true love; your health. And what if you made a bad trade?”

Then I settled back to work, thinking I’d work on the next one during my lunch break (it takes an inordinate amount of time to condense an 85,000 word novel into 140 characters). Exactly TEN MINUTES later, I received a private message from Chicken House asking me to send a full novel pitch and my manuscript in progress to them. Bearing in mind I’m used to waiting 2-3 MONTHS for a reply, for about a minute and a half my only reaction was this:


Then I stood up and sat down again, did an in-the-chair jig, clapped my hands together like a three year old on their birthday and sort of stared around the empty office, wondering what the hell to do with myself. I ended up leaving work early through sheer friggin joy.

So over the weekend I have been frantically writing, re-writing, re-writing again and trying to work out what on earth a ‘full novel pitch’ actually is. It’s honestly been a blast. Mostly because it feels like it’s been a good while now since I’ve had a positive response to my writing – I know that in the scheme of things it hasn’t been that long at all, but Jesus it’s felt that way. I’d gotten myself properly mired in the Rejection Blues. So even to have had a thumbs-up that doesn’t lead anywhere is just the best kick up the arse I could have received.

But speaking of leading anywhere, this is where we come back to Schrodinger’s cat. Even though you thought I’d finally cracked at the beginning of this post, here is the relevance: this is my unopened box. This brief period in between being given good news, and finding out it’s not going anywhere. And unlike my previous full MS requests, where I checked my emails relentlessly and willed the agencies to respond to me as fast as possible, this time I plan to just enjoy the knowledge that the cat could be alive in there.

On Friday, for the first time in ages, I bounced home, and spent the rest of the day high as a bloody kite. To make matters even better, I got a phone-buzz every time someone liked the pitch I’d sent in to Chicken House, and every one pumped a little bit more air into my happy bubble. And I know – Christ, do I know – that this bubble is more than likely to pop, but fuck it.

Right now it’s fat and happy, and so am I. Whether the cat’s alive or dead, for the rest of this week at least, I plan to enjoy every single second of not knowing.

happy dance



So…I missed a week, and then I came back with an absolute nonentity of a post (this).


The tragic part is that I wasn’t even busy writing, or submitting, or getting rejections or anything. I was on holiday, not suffering for my art in the slightest. Even so, as a result of flight times I’ve been up since 2.30am this morning, so please excuse me whilst I go collapse in bed until next week, where at least a little actual effort will be made.

‘Til next week!

EDIT: Just remembered, I actually did get one rejection! Yay?

Let Me In!

It’s actually going to be a real post this week! With length and misery and everything!


Seriously though, this blog post is not for the fainthearted – it is, however, intended to be an understanding cuddle to everyone who has felt what I’m feeling at the minute re: rejections. And to try and reassure myself, as much as anyone, that this feeling isn’t reserved for me, and that it won’t last.

So here’s how I feel. Nearly ten years ago, in my tender early teens, I knocked politely on the door of a Very Intimidating House, and had this conversation with the very tall and scary person, called Publishing Industry, who answered:

Me: Will you publish my book please?

Publishing Industry: *flicking through my 500+ page, dragons-and-swords fantasy trilogy* No. Go away and write a better book.

Which, to be honest, was fair. So I did. Two years later, we had the same conversation about my much-harder-to-genre-ise YA story, only now there were some extras:

Publishing Industry: Still not a good enough book. Also, you need to get better at writing cover letters and synopses, pay attention to every minute detail on our various and sundry websites to make sure you don’t piss us off at the starting post, find out where you stand in the children’s market, learn how to pitch better and get more writing experience.


So I went away (skipping and frolicking) and read hundreds of books, learned the children’s market about as well as anyone who isn’t being paid to do so can, studied countless guides to writing cover letters and synopses to write a good pitch, made sure I was submitting precisely within the guidelines of each individual agency / competition, and in the meantime got an MA in Creative Writing as well as writing thousands and thousands more words.

Now, I’m standing in front of that same door (only now it’s cold and pissing rain) and they still won’t let me in. And now, no-one will even tell me why. Is it because my writing isn’t good enough? Maybe; I’m no JK Rowling, but I’ve also read (published) worse. Is it because my story isn’t marketable? Again, maybe; but it’s essentially children’s fantasy – how un-marketable has that ever been?  Is it because I’m just unlucky, and keep writing to the wrong people at the wrong time? Maybe; but that doesn’t make it sting any less.

What’s frustrating me the most at the minute is that I keep finding myself trawling the internet for more tips, more guidance, more things I haven’t tried that might finally get me through that door. But all I ever find is stuff I’ve already done.

So that’s me this week, I’m afraid. Standing outside of a perennially closed door; cold, soaked and very, very grumpy.

sad rain

Next week we’re back to short and sweet, but I promise to also say some things that won’t leave you wanting to go to bed forever. Maybe.


Apologies past, present and future…

Hello, it’s only going to be a short one today because:

  1. I should have posted yesterday, but had nothing written (AGAIN).
  2. I’m literally at work, hoping nobody important is about to walk in and see that I’ve mentally checked out an hour and a half early.
  3. Well, they’re going to be short ones for a while…

As a kind of follow-up to my last post, in which I said I’d be scaling back my submissions attempts, I’m also going to be scaling back blog posts. Given the scheduling shit-show that has been going on the last few weeks, I wouldn’t blame you if this actually comes as a relief.

I’m still going to try and post weekly on Mondays, but the posts will for the most part be short, sweet and update-y rather than covering anything…y’know, interesting.


This is because over the last couple of months I’ve been driving myself round the twist trying to get all my submissions done, a blog post written, some actual writing done, work four days a week, maintain personal hygiene, have friends, sleep etc. etc. And I’ve reached that point where I feel like I’ve been doing a half-arsed version of everything, rather than a proper job of anything.

So I’m still going to post, but only briefly unless there’s something specific / important to say. Hopefully this will give me time to take my foot off the mental pedal a bit, and will mean that when I do write a proper post it’s not just an increasingly miserable re-hash of ‘yeah, I’m still being rejected’.

So sorry for the late post, sorry for the lack of lols in this one and sorry for the future brevity – here’s hoping all of these things served / will serve a purpose!

A Re-Evaluation of Tactics

Oh dear guys: it’s not going super well, is it? I have now crossed the 25 Rejection marker, and had a long-awaited rejection from the third agency to have requested my full manuscript last week. The fact that my full manuscript has been under consideration at one agency or another for the last couple of months has had a few effects:

  1. I haven’t been sending as many submissions off, so the ‘awaiting response’ column of my spreadsheet is looking depressingly weedy.
  2. The landslide of ‘well they’ve ignored me for three solid months now, so that’s probs a no’ rejections all landed in the last few weeks.
  3. I’ve now had rejections/ignortions (work with me) from pretty much all of my green list agents.

I’m also not holding out an awful lot of hope for any of my more recent submissions, as all of the full MS requests I have received arrived within a week of my initial email. Obviously this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the past few months do seem to have taught me that the longer you wait for a response, the more likely that response is going to be a big, fat ‘no’. This being the case, I was 90% sure that last full MS request would be a no weeks before I received it. But this is still the furthest I’ve felt from potential success for a couple of months, and it kinda sucks.

But you know, darkest before the dawn and all that. And what this does mean is that I’m considering a minor change in tactics.

In a complete contradiction of one of my previous posts explaining why I’m submitting to agents[link], I’m still going to submit to agents, but I think I’m going to try and submit to a few indie publishers as well. This is not because I’ve lost all faith that an agency will ever agree to represent me.


It’s more of a nothing-to-lose strategy. One of the things that put me off wanting to submit to publishers in the first place is that some agencies ask for a list of publishers who have already seen the manuscript – which, to me, felt a bit like sending them a list which said ‘lol turns out I suck at doing your job, but here’s a bunch of people I’ve made it pointless for you to approach, just to make this a nice fun challenge’. I’m still worried about that, but frankly I care less now. Beggars can’t be choosers, as they say, and I’m one rejection away from camping out on Bloomsbury’s doorstep and refusing to leave until someone reads my goddamn book.

Whilst I’m here, I’m also going to subtly hide in the middle of all this text that I’m going to scale back my pre-full MS requests 5-submissions-a-week goal. Now this is partly because I am just super busy at the minute, and finding time to write a weekly blog post is proving maddening enough. But mostly because I want to give myself a bit more time to work on my new project. This is not because I’ve lost all faith that anyone will ever publish this book.


But last weekend I went to one of Patrick Ness’s events to promote his new novel, Release (which, if you’re looking for a book recommendation, I can confirm is that fabulous Ness-ian mixture of heart-achingly real and brain-frazzlingly weird), and gave him a brief breakdown of my attempts to get published – brief because I spat the words out like a machine gun. After he’d stopped looking at me like this:


He advised me to split focus; keep sending off my book, but spend more time working on the new one, too. And to be honest, working on the new one requires infinitely fewer desperate-self-pep-talks and dark musings on my future, so I’d like to do more of it. I will definitely still be sending at least one submission off per week – hopefully two or three. And who knows, perhaps we’ll hit the hallowed ground of four or five on weeks when I’ve decided I don’t care about a) being caught sending submissions off from work b) having friends or c) sleeping. But to assuage my future guilt, I thought I’d best let you know.

So, to summarise: bit sad but will be okay, trying a few publishers, spending more time on new project and less whingeing about rejections.

And we can call this Plan J, or something.

Next Post: Okay, now it’s getting REALLY hard to come up with new ways of saying ‘still not published’. Kind of expanding on this post, I want to talk more about how to divide time between an old project and a new one – partly to see if it helps me figure out how to actually do that…

Submissions Last Week

Just the one I’m afraid, and to an agent….I will get on this Plan J thing though, I swear.

Current Rejection Tally: 25