Best Blogger Tips July 2013 | Katie Dale

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Competition time!!

Doesn't time fly?

My new YA thriller LITTLE WHITE LIES is due to be published a week tomorrow! 

Now, while I haven't even seen the finished book in the flesh yet, I know some bookshops get it in early, so here's a contest - if you spot it, just take a photo of it on the shop bookshelf and post it on my Facebook page:
or Tweet it to me @katiedaleuk 

PRIZE! Signed first edition copies of both LITTLE WHITE LIES and SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE as well as  a bunch of other goodies :)

HOW TO WIN! There are 2 ways to win:

Method#1 If you're first to post your photo, you'll win, simple as that!

Method #2 If someone's beaten you to #1, don't worry! Still post your pic, as at the end of September I'll put all other names in a hat and give out the same prize again!

Good luck!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Undiscovered Voices 2014 is Open for Submissions!

The wait is over! It’s here! It’s time! Any aspiring children’s authors, grab your feather duster and manuscripts and get polishing because Undiscovered Voices 2014 is open for submissions until August 15th!

A panel of industry experts will choose 12 winning novel extracts (from age 5+ to Young Adult) which will be put into an anthology and sent out to editors and agents across the UK. All the submission guidelines can be found here, and you can even download a free copy of the 2012 anthology here. This is too good an opportunity to miss!
It is no exaggeration to say that Undiscovered Voices launched my writing career, and it has brought success and recognition to many other talented writers. In fact, from the first three anthologies, a mind-blowing
22 of the 36 winners 
now have publishing contracts 
for over 70 books! 
and have won or been nominated for a galaxy of awards, from the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize to the Blue Peter Awards! Read more here.

In fact 5 out of the 8 EDGE members are Undiscovered Voices winners, including

Sara Grant (DARK PARTIES, HALF LIVES, and the MAGIC TRIX series)

So, are you ready? Are you? Before you press “send”, here are my Top 10 Tips, I learned from my own UV journey…

#1 DO ENTER UV – OR ANY WRITING COMPETITIONS. They offer incredible opportunities, force you to work to a deadline, and give you invaluable feedback from publishing experts.

#2 DO GO TRAVELLING – anything which broadens your experience enriches your writing.

I’ve always loved creating characters, whether through writing or acting, so imagine my euphoria when I received an email telling me that I had been chosen as a winner of the SCBWI 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition! How utterly amazing! The only problem? I was in Vietnam, having just started on a belated GAP Year trip. Oh, and I hadn’t finished the book…

There followed a flurry of interest in my book (then entitled Someone Else’s Footprints) – but I’d only written about four chapters of it, as it had been a homework assignment whilst I was at university! Flummoxed, I tried valiantly to complete it whilst on various beaches/boats/elephants but ultimately decided it was best to wait until I got home.

When I finally got home, I got busy writing and eventually finished Someone Else’s Footprints...but no-one wanted it. Even the agents and editors who had contacted me after UV didn't now feel it was quite what they were looking for. It seemed I had missed the boat (figuratively and literally!).

It's funny how life works, isn't it? Never in a straight line! Having finally finished writing my book, I contacted all the judges of UV, hoping they still remembered me, and the lovely Catherine Coe at Orchard Books replied to say how much she enjoyed my entry, but that her imprint didn't really deal with YAge – Drat.
But would I like to come in and meet the Orchard team and discuss other ideas? Would I?! I jumped at the chance, and immediately brainstormed a bunch of new ideas for younger readers…

I felt very nervous and excited arriving at the impressive Hachette headquarters, with all their famous books and authors on display, but Catherine was completely lovely and put me at ease. We discussed ideas for younger teen readers - but it was an idea for a rhyming fairytale series for their Crunchies imprint which really caught her interest (a story idea about Prince Charming that had actually been my homework in Year 6!) and she made me an offer for an eight book series! Hurray! My mum was thrilled and my Dad practically fainted (and finally put away the Tesco job application forms!)

At moreorless the same time, having got my name from Working Partners, the amazing Tony Bradman (wow!) contacted me about an anthology Walker were putting together entitled 'How To Be A Boy'. My initial reaction was "Help! How do I write boy fiction?!" I've always written girl narrators, and was extremely nervous and apprehensive, but it was just too good an opportunity to pass up, so I gave it a go - and it was great fun! I discovered a writing style I'd never attempted before and really enjoyed it and - even better - Walker chose my story DEAR TADPOLE for inclusion in their anthology! - my first professional publication! Writing as a fifteen-year-old boy! Wonders never cease.

On the back of these successes, I decided now was the time to approach agents again. It certainly was! After previously being unable to attract/beg/bribe a single offer of representation, I ended up in the incredible position of being able to CHOOSE from FOUR wonderful agents! I was totally overwhelmed - it was a position I had never imagined in my wildest dreams! After meeting with them all, and after many hours of deliberation, I ultimately decided to go with the very lovely Jenny Savill, who came with rave references from Sara Grant, who had just sold her wonderful novel Dark Parties.

There followed a blur of editing and cutting as Jenny tirelessly helped me edit, improve, and CUT (40,000 words!) the manuscript, until finally it was down to 100,000 words! Then we held our breaths as it went out to publishers...another rollercoaster-ride...!! After a lot of hard work, wishing, hoping, deformed fingers from keeping them crossed, and a slow succession of 'lovely' rejections (as lovely as rejections can be!) and near-misses, we ended up with THREE UK offers for Someone Else's Life - and a two-book deal! Hurray! I cannot describe the feeling - after standing on a knife-edge between success and failure - between wannabe and author - the sense of fulfilment and relief is the most amazing feeling in the world.

So, what are you waiting for?


Monday, 8 July 2013

What a Weekend!

Well, there have been lots of reasons to celebrate this weekend!
a) ANDY MURRAY WON WIMBLEDON! The first British male in 77 years! Woo-hoo! Having watched him struggle and moan and vastly improve over last 9 years or so, it's so wonderful to see him finally win - and in straight sets too - Go Andy!
b) The incredibly GORGEOUS weather! It actually finally feels like summer! And despite growing up by the sea near Worthing, this weekend was the first time EVER my sisters and I actually ventured into the waves for a paddle - and we weren't the only ones! The beach - usually a deserted stretch of pebbles and smelly seaweed - was rammed with people sunbathing, paddling, and even SWIMMING. It was like we'd entered a parallel universe. 
Ah, the power of the sunshine...
c) PUBLICATION DAY for AND THEN HE KISSED ME! As if it brought the wonderful weather with it, look what dropped through my letterbox this weekend! Perfect sunbathing reading, this is a chocolate box created by a host of wonderful authors, who each give their take on first love, heartbreak, and that all-important first kiss. Life is like a box of chocolates, right? Many thanks to Annalie and all the team at Walker Books for all their hard work, a GORGEOUS cover, and a very special card :)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Someone Else's Life Shortlisted for Stockport Schools Book Award!

I am so incredibly thrilled to hear that my debut YA novel Someone Else's Life
has been shortlisted for the Stockport Schools Book Award!

Forget BGT, forget The Voice, for me as an author this is where it's at. There are lots of highly prestigious book awards, judged by literary "experts" - famous authors, librarians, booksellers and publishers - but for me, being judged by teen readers is especially important. The books were, after all, written for teens, and consequently, to me at least, your opinion is the most valuable.

I am therefore especially honoured to be chosen as one of the three finalists for Key Stage 4 - though of course it's very little about me, and all to do with the book itself as, much like "The Voice" this is, in a sense, a "blind" competition. Author school visits are discouraged so that the books are judged on their own merits - the plot, the characters, and indeed the "voice" - by the teens they were written for. (And yes, I am imagining you all sitting in big red chairs, with my fingers crossed that you spin round!)

But what's especially special about this book award is that it's not just about reading the books and casting your vote - there's a whole array of exciting, innovative, and interesting activities that readers get involved in before making their decision.

Activity days bring students from different schools to meet, discuss and debate the shortlisted titles, then the favourite activity of the day is when they split into groups to create a group drama about one of the titles. This can be a film trailer, a play, a news report, or even a performance poem or a rap! How I wish I could be a fly on the wall that day! I'd love to see what they come up with!

There is also an art competition for pupils to create an original piece of artwork inspired by one of the short-listed books!

Additionally, each year five schools are invited to a professional recording studio! There they read extracts from the shortlisted titles to give the listener a flavour of all the books in each category, then explain why they personally loved the books and why we should read them.

The final recording and winning artwork are then presented at...

Previous winners - with the Mayor!
The Oscars-style award ceremony! This glitzy evening at the Plaza Theatre is attended by pupils, teachers, parents, publishers, authors and illustrators - and even the Mayor of Stockport!

It's a wonderful, innovative and and exciting competition, and I feel really thrilled and honoured that Someone Else's Life has been chosen to be a part of it this year.  Good luck everyone!!

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