I’m So Excited To Share My News!

THE SWITCHING HOUR

I’m so excited to share the news that my first  book will be published by Scholastic this year, with a second book in 2020! You can find out more here!  

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Never stay out after the Switching Hour… never let the outside in….

Amaya lives with her grandmother, her small brother Kaleb and her pet goat Tau in a land suffering a terrible drought.  Every night, the doors must be locked at twilight, the Switching Hour, because the drought has awoken Badoko, a creature that snatches children away to eat their dreams.  

Three days later, the memory that they existed is gone from those that knew them, and those that are left are afflicted with The Sorrow Sickness – a grief which consumes a person without them knowing why.   When Kaleb is taken by Badoko, Amaya must journey into the terrifying forest to find her brother before she forgets him.

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Writing stories has always been my escape and my first love and although I dreamed of being a published author I secretly couldn’t imagine it would actually happen! Over the years I continued to write stories whenever I could and I soaked up all the wisdom and knowledge from the authors and wonderful tutors on my MA course. Slowly, my writing improved and I gained confidence in my ability to tell those stories. Finally, I was ready to send my manuscript out into the world and I was so lucky to find the right agent for me (you can read more about that here!).

It has been overwhelming at times, with the dreaded Imposter Syndrome striking HARD, especially when I first found out I was going to be published. Finding a community of writers and authors on social media and in real life has been such a wonderful experience, helping me through the times of doubt and panic. I’m now excited for the future and hope that my little story finds it’s readers who will love my characters and world as much as I do.

‘The Switching Hour’ is out 1st August 2019 (with gorgeous cover artwork by the wonderfully talented illustrator Kelsey Buzzell!) and my second book is being published in spring 2020!

If you fancy pre-ordering, you can do so here! X

Finding The Right Literary Agent For You

 

Searching for the right literary agent can be one of those times where you might feel out of your depth. Where things are out of your control. It’s easy to believe that your future as an author is all in the hands of the literary agent.

Even when you are offered representation, you may feel like you are just so incredibly lucky that someone wants to sign you that you need to sign on the dotted line IMMEDIATELY. That’s the thing about publishing – sometimes you can feel as though it’s all about lucky chances and that you have to grab any opportunity with both hands, leaving you with a sense that you don’t have much choice.

MA Writing For Young People

Last year, I completed my Masters in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University.Applying to the course was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and it has changed my life considerably since then!

Despite the fact I was working full time, I decided to fit the course into one year instead of two. Although not the cleverest idea, it did teach me how to prioritise my work-load and the benefits of coffee.

In 2016, I entered the world of higher education, feeling like a fish out of water. I was surrounded by highly intelligent people, who already had fantastic ideas for stories and characters. I was in awe of everyone and everything, not least Corsham Court, the stately setting for the workshops, where peacocks sauntered the grounds!

For the first few weeks, I managed to keep up with the work, taking cues from the other students and reading the material, as well as writing like my life depended on it. It was wonderful. My life-long dream of becoming a published author suddenly seemed possible. I got good marks for my first couple of assessments and I told myself ‘I’ve got this in the bag!’.

Then it all started to go downhill. I struggled to find my ‘voice’ and I couldn’t think of a manuscript idea for the final assessment. I got a lower marks, despite working my butt off. I lost all my confidence. I emailed my tutor and told her that I was wasting her time and mine.

Luckily, my wonderful tutor told me that the grades weren’t everything and I was still learning. It was all going to be OK!

I threw myself into the third term, writing before work, after work, on the weekends and on my lunch-breaks. I read voraciously. I stopped focusing on the grades and concentrated on finding my voice and my story.

The manuscript idea wasn’t a lightning bolt of inspiration. It was the work of several stories that grew and developed over the course. I changed characters, story-line, genre and perspective, until finally, The Dream Eater fought its way into being, kicking and screaming. It was a surly story that had to be coaxed and cajoled and I spent many sleepless nights trying to make sense of it.

When the MA completed, I felt relief, pride, sadness, as well as fear. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to carry on writing without the deadlines, the support of the other students and the encouragement that the course had given me.

I let The Dream Eater snooze for a while, while I went back to the reality of the world outside the MA. I tried to start other writing projects but I couldn’t get The Dream Eater out of my head.

With the Anthology Launch coming up, I went back to editing The Dream Eater, wondering how I could muster up the energy to complete it. Then I decided to change the setting to be inspired by Zambia, where I had grown up.

It was as if I had breathed life into it. Everything changed. I was finally in love with my story. I delved into my childhood, remembering how the air tasted and how the ground felt beneath my bare feet. As I looked through old photos, I poured the memory of the heat and the rain into the writing.

I finally felt like I was writing what I knew and staying true to who I was. It was the story of my experiences of growing up in such a unique and beautiful country.

The love and work that went into editing The Dream Eater paid off and I got two offers of representation! I was absolutely amazed and in awe of both agents but ultimately decided to go with Alice from Madeleine Milburn Agency. Her enthusiasm for The Dream Eater blew me away and her love for the character ‘Tao the goat’ made me love her even more.

It has been a thrilling ride so far and I’m incredibly excited for what will come next.

There is still so much to learn about writing, I will never feel like I know it all, but my confidence is slowly growing. I’m starting to trust my instincts and believe in my story.

The Dream Eater has grown up and so have I.

The Eye of the Storm

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There are so many reasons why people write. To communicate or for work, for pleasure or to express themselves. I find that I write for fun and to be creative, but I also write to make myself feel better and to bring structure to my day. Sometimes the chaos of life can become difficult to handle all at once. I find that writing down a few words in diary form or even writing a creative piece can be cathartic and restore some control and sanity to my life.

Life can be confusing and sometimes out of your control, you may feel as though a hurricane has hit and nothing seems certain. Therefore it is essential that you find something that you enjoy and take pride in, so that you can regain a sense of well being and peace of mind, even through the stormy times.

Writing and Reading Resolutions

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I only have one New Year’s resolution this year – to make sure I write and read every day. It doesn’t have to be much, just something. Even if it is just writing a sentence and reading a page!

After the time off over Christmas and New Year I feel rusty when it comes to writing and even reading.

I have spent the holidays being entertained by (and entertaining) friends and family. Pure escapism through watching films, going for walks and meals out has meant that I haven’t had a lot of time to myself. I have enjoyed the time off and the ability to put everything on hold for a while, but I have also felt a little guilty for neglecting my writing.

Now that the holidays are over, I need to get back into writing and catching up on the reading that I have collected over the past few weeks. I was given a few books as Christmas gifts and my boyfriend brought back a stack of Terry Pratchett books from his Christmas visit home that I’m looking forward to borrowing!

I find that after a break it does sometimes take a while to ‘re-train’ myself to write for any period of time. I can get easily distracted and fidgety. The thought of writing for long periods can be daunting after a few weeks off. I need to start slow and just write for ten minutes at a time, just to ease myself back into the writing process!

The Next Generation of Writers

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I remember learning to write by copying the story of ‘The Little Matchstick Girl’ word for word into my notebook. I didn’t know what each letter meant or even how they all fit together; they were just scribbles I laboriously traced over. All I can remember is that I desperately wanted to capture the tale myself, as well as the frustration of not being able to write properly.

As soon as I was able to read and write I wanted to create my own stories. I would write about the adventures of my pet cat, or write about places I wanted to visit.

I’m curious to know how children nowadays learn to write their own stories. With an overwhelming choice of films, TV, games, books and activities, where do they find the time to write? Do they find the time?

Children have an immeasurable gift of imagination and they should utilise it, before the skill is lost in the restriction of tweets, updates and texts. Unless we are able to teach the skills required in a world full of distraction, the ability to write stories may be in danger of dying out.

Be Brave

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I still find it difficult to write something that other people will read.

Writing is very personal and it’s a complicated form of expression. I have never written very openly, I was always the last person to read out my written work in class. But I need to stop seeing it as a potentially terrifying scenario.

The creative and personal nature of writing can cause doubts, as well as the fear of being scorned or judged. But writers must learn to be brave in displaying their craft and be proud of their hard work.

Writing publically, whether in a blog or a book, is a form of empowerment and a task that builds your confidence. When shared with others, writing can be a tool to connect and express yourself creatively.

I may never be completely comfortable with sharing my work, but I can learn to be braver when I write.