Saturday 31 January 2015

Newsletter January 2015

2015 has got off to a good start now. I’m coming to the end of huge marking load at the University of Salford. I have had to mark 44 scripts on my own module, two dissertations, and co-mark 60 on another module. Yet to come are eight MA assignments.  In addition I’ve had to moderate 40 scripts. That’s 308,000 words to read and comment on. I’ve written already about 10,000 in comments.

Next week lectures begin. I’m looking forward to that though there is always the slight worry on the first session that you may go to the wrong room and find either no students or a bunch of people you don’t know.

Oh, mind, no pressure by the way: I’m lecturing on writing autobiography on Tuesday. We use Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road. Jackie Kay is our new chancellor. Oh hum!                                 
Still writing remains the priority: I must put in that 2,000 words  / two hours a day even if I have to work late into the night to get the other things done. I must be able to say “I am a writer, therefore I write.”



I have now finished the first draft of Girl in a Smart Uniform. I’m by no means happy with it but in some ways that’s quite a healthy space to be in. I shared it with the SCBWI North West Network YA critique group and got a lot of ideas. I actually now wonder whether it is YA at all. Certainly readable by them. Is it in fact something like Zusak’s The Book Thief?

As I’m now into redrafting mode I’m punctuating work on this with more work on short stories and flash fiction. I’m rather enjoying that.     

I’m also working on my book about the darker side of children’s fiction and have started a chapter on books about the Holocaust.

Alfie Dog
has now accepted Alice’s Boy.  I’m quite pleased as I’ve wanted to get some work published there for some time though hadn’t been able to identify which of my work suited this imprint best. This story seems spot on, in fact.  
This week also advance sales start on an academic book to which I’ve contributed. See more here:   

Bridge House

Bridge House is open for submissions at the moment. This year, we’re concentrating on snowflakes. Real ones? Perhaps but more likely stories that are like snowflakes. Unique and perfectly formed. As they melt into the psyche they bring a life-sustaining force. Snow can be beautiful and it can be treacherous. It can swing from one extreme to another in seconds. It is an important part of the nature cycle. Read more here.

Do get those submissions coming in. So far, we only have a few though frustratingly many from people who have clearly not read the submission guidelines properly.

Light in the Dark
is now out and is selling steadily. People tell us they like the cover.  

Creative Café

I’m going to be working as a writer in residence for the day at the Hornsea Flora Hall Café (HU18 1NQ) on 12 February.  Do pop along if you’re in the area. You will be able to:
  • Enjoy a 30 minute critique of your work
  • Chat for 15 minutes about your writing
  • Look at some of my books
  • Contribute some flash fiction for a possible Hornsea Floral anthology  
  • Suggest other projects

I’m steadily bringing new cafés into the project and I’m always on the lookout for more. So, if you know of one, do get in touch.  More and more people are now engaging with the project. Take a look here. I’m also looking for more articles on Writers in Cafés – see what’s involved here.

Don’t forget as well we’re always looking for stories for CafeLit.

We’ve also had a rather nice review of The Best of CafeLit 3. You can read it here.

School visits

I continue to offer free school visits, details below. 
These visits are up to 90 minutes long and are focussed on my books.

In addition, many of us from the university are going out and offering presentations on what is on offer on our programmes. I’ll generally throw in a creative writing exercise.    
I’ll reiterate straight away that authors should be paid for school visits, but these free ones are actually part of the work I do at the university.

I offer readings for 14+ of Veiled Dreams, Scum Bag, Spooking, Fibbin’ Archie and The Peace Child Trilogy (The Prophecy, Babel, The Tower) a short question and answer session and a creative writing exercise for your class. For primary children there are Jason’s Crystal, The Lombardy Grotto and Kiters. Read more about my books here. There are of course also my stories in various anthologies. All other visits are at the rates suggested by the Society of Authors. Schools can mix and match these visits. I do ask that travel expenses are covered.
I’m offering visits and talks specifically about my The House on Schellberg Street project for a donation towards the project. I’ve devised a whole interactive workshop for this. The book is now out and selling steadily. It would be a real asset for any school teaching the Holocaust at Key Stage 3. Even if a school can’t afford a donation, I’d be happy to run the project.
Here’s some further news about the Schellberg project.

Query for a school visit here.

The Red Telephone

We’re still working on marketing Shanta Everington’s XY. You can still join in the online launch here. She has run a very successful blog tour.
 Cyan Brodie’s, Dream Girl is now out and we’re also promoting that.
I’m working on Kathy Dunn’s The Demon Magician. This has a fast-paced plot and some delightful characters.
There will be a new call for submissions shortly.  

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