Taking A Wee Break

So you’ve probably noticed that the quantity and quality of my posts has generally nosedived over the last couple of months. I did bookmark when this was going to happen, but was even worse than my word and have posted little and not-at-all-often. This has partly been because of general life busy-ness, but mostly it’s been because I haven’t sent off any new submissions at all in a fair few weeks now – other than to Chicken House.


Now that was (mostly) on purpose because, Jesus Christ, I’d just reached rejection saturation point. The cycle of rejection > rejection > possible good news > tense waiting > rejection > rejection > possible good news (etc.) was not doing my long-term emotional stability much good, and I’d started to feel so desperate that I kind of forgot why I was trying in the first place.

So I spent a couple of months actually writing, and you know what? Turns out I actually LIKE it! As it transpires, the reason I was trying so hard to make writing my thing that I do most days is because it’s a lovely thing to do with most days! Who knew?

It’s brought back a bit of my zen, and I think (maybe) I’m ready to dip my toe back into the Rejection pool. I wouldn’t hold your breath for an upsurge in blog posts – I still want to focus more on my new writing project – but hopefully I’ll actually have some things to say in them again…

So here I go, back towards the publishing industry like:

hug fail.gif


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?

The Power of Deadlines

Another quick one from me today, because I have about 70,000 words to write before December.

nervous laugh

So with that being very much on my mind, it makes sense to talk about the power of deadlines. After all, you can’t pursue publication if you can’t finish a book, and as far as I’m concerned there is no power on this earth more motivating than a deadline (except maybe food).

This particular deadline has not been set by me, but most of my writing deadlines are. I find this helps to prevent the kind of situations I end up with in my non-writing life, where I have ‘sort out Tesco clubcard’ on my to-do list for literally nine months and then realise it takes about eight minutes to tick off. Even if I don’t meet my personal deadlines, which I often don’t, I find it hugely helpful to have them anyway – I guarantee I get more done when I have a made-up deadline than when I just meander around writing ‘when the mood strikes me’ (which at the minute is for about five minutes every three weeks, and usually when I’m already half-asleep in bed).

But this deadline is different, as it is my annual deadline to submit to the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. I’ve submitted to this, I think, three times so far, and never gotten anywhere at all – but I think it’s the best competition of it’s nature, and so far it’s been doing a sterling job of helping me crank out roughly a book a year.

The official competition closing date hasn’t even been announced yet, but as it’s usually in December and I currently only have 11,000 words of my new project, please excuse me while I go scribble down some words / stare aimlessly out of the window with a Word Doc open on my lap.

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.