Saturday, 28 April 2012

Writing YA fiction with issues - Part 1 Intro

On Tuesday evening I went to the British SCBWI Professional Series talk by Miriam Halahmy, Bali Rai and Sara Grant.  They were on panel about writing YA fiction with issues.  Miriam writes about immigration, asylum seekers in her Hidden cycle, Bali writes about racial issues and Sara writes Dystopian issues.  This is the first post all about the introduction part where they talked about why and how they write their books.

Miriam said that she has always been interested in social justice and issues so that is what she writes.  She said that with YA, you need to keep things moving.  She has been amazed at her talks that 11-12 y-os know so much about immigration.  Said that if characters don't stand out, then readers won't be interested.
Bali doesn't plan, anything.  He currently is in an argument with another author about issue novels.  The other authors says why not kill issue novels?  He later went on to say that teenagers are interested in today's issues, and if you don't write about these issues, then how are teenagers going to know about them.  Said that YA is more diverse now.  He wants everyone to be a reader, and feel that if YA isn't written then there won't be so many readers.  He feels that teenagers/YA should be let to read about the world they know.  He has found that teenagers are different.  For instance, a 13yo wanted to read what they wanted but an 18 yo wasn't bothered so much.  He thinks that YA authors are better storytellers than adult ones.  He likes to write about people around him and put them in a situation.

Sara: when she was writing her first book, she was pushed to write uncomfortable scenes, and now knows that it felt right to do so.  In the UK, her books are marketed at schools so her sexual scenes in the book were pulled back, but in the US, it wasn't so much so.  She says that if you write a topic or culture, then you have to be with it all the way and know where your boundaries are.  You have to stick with it even when you are challanged by others about it. Says than teens know a lot more than we think.  When you write YA with issues, you have to know what's at the heart of the story and ask yourself, why am I writing it?  Why is it important to me? 
    She writes bullet points about her novels, inc issues, when she plans it.  Then she can see what she can and can't write about.    She likes books that have layers, and not interested in levels that readers won't be interested in .

That was the introduction part.  It was interesting to hear what they write and why.  Next week will be part 2 Q&A.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The London Book Fair

I wasn't going to go to the London Book Fair this year as I didn't have anything to look for. But then the British SCBWI's London Social was organised to meet there during the day and I changed my mind.  I was just going to meet the others for lumch but then had an idea for a book aimed at 6-9s and started writing it.  I now had a reason to go.  My plan was to find publishers who did series fiction, look at their books and work out the word count for each book.  It didn't quite work out that way.  I managed to do it for one publisher, their word count is 10,000 words for each book, but the others I had in mind weren't there.  I found others who did series fiction, but their tables were packed and I didn't want to disturb them by walking around them and standing by them.  So it went to plan b.  Instead I walked up and down, up and down, and finding publishers and picking up their catalogues.  I had done most of what I wanted to do and see by 12 noon.  So I went to the meeting area for the social.  I found a table and started to read my catalogues.  Another woman (not from SCBWI) came and sat with me and ate her lunch. I took my IBS tablets, then thought, I am getting hungry (even though I'd eaten half a packet of crisps during the morning) and ate my lunch.  I then perused some of the catalogues, and heard my name being called.  At the table to my left was Anita from SCBWI and the social organsier.  I picked up my catalogues and joined her, whilst she ate her lunch.  We got chatting about what we were up to, and I enjoyed talking about my contract with the epublisher.  Someone else from SCBWI then joined us, and then another person.  Anita then mentioned that she had planned to meet Miriam there, but couldn't see her.  She mentioned it again a few mins later and I said, that looks like Miriam sitting behind you.  It was.  Ha ha.  We all joined tables and sat and chatted for a while.  They were going to a talk and I wanted to visit one more stand before heading home - I was tired after a bad night sleep the night before.  So I left them to it, saying see you next week (there's a SCBWI talk this coming Tuesday) and went to the stand.  I was told they did fiction for 6-9s but when I asked they said no.  So I went to the loo then went home.  My bag was full of catalogues.  Which I will look at again once I have finished my book called Boring Billy and the Odd Socks, and am ready to send it out.

Here are my tips if you want to go to the LBF next year:
1. Have a plan.
2 Have a plan a and plan b
3. It's good to have someone to meet up otherwise it can be a lonely thing to do.
4. Get as many catalogues as you can.
5.  Take your own food, esp crisps.  My packet cost me £1.80, which I couldn't believe.
6 Enjoy your time there.

So, did you go to the LBF?  If so, what was your plan?  Let me know.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Reaching readers across the world

One reason I wanted to write ebooks was to expand my readership for the present and future. Esp as I knew that lots of people were buying ereaders. But I didn't expect the readership to reach across the world. Now and then I check my sales with Smashwords and Amazon for my Angel ebooks. Well, the other day I checked them out and got a surprise. There were 2 sales: one from the US and one from Canada. I thought wow! I am reaching readers across the world, and from places I have never been to. This really astounded me. And it has inpsired me to keep going with the ebooks series.

There is one other way that I am reaching readers around the world. I contribute to a small press magazine called Creature Features. Now this is really international. The publisher/editor lives in Cyprus, and this is where the magazine is posted from. And the readers and contributers live around the world. They come from Brazil, India, US, Rumania, Australia and New Zealand, as well as little old UK. Truly international. I might have to think about advertising my ebooks there, and see what response I get back, as they are more wide reaching than I get now as I have yet to reach those countries for the ebooks as they don't get published there. We shall see.

Next post will be out the London Book Fair, as I will be visiting that next week to see what publishers are publishing for 6-9 year olds right now.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Notepads and pens - where do you keep them?

As a writer, I am often reading that you should keep paper and pens with you wherever you go. So, where do you keep your pads and pens? In places where you can get to them easily? I have mine in the main rooms I go in in the house: living room, dining room and my bedroom. Here's where:

Living room - I have paper (scrap from a daily calender) and pen on the coffee table, which is in front of my armchair. V easily to lean forward and get what I need when I have an idea. I also have paper and pens in my handbag.

Dining room - paper and pen on my computer desk. Also on the litle phone cabinet. Ideal for when I get an idea whilst on my computer and jot down what comes to mind.

My bedroom - I have a pad and pen on my bedside cabinet. Handy for when I wake up during the night (often) and want to write down ideas for scenes or books. Very useful. I couldn't go without these in this room. Often I get ideas in the quiet, and know if I don't write them down I won't be able to get back to sleep again, even if I do have to put my lamp on.

Do you keep paper and pens to hand? And where?

The next post will be about readers across the world.