Coventry writing workshop weekend announcement

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On 1st and 2nd February I’m going to be hosting a writing workshop at the Village Hotel in Coventry Business Park with WriteMentor. Here are the details, all on the website:

Cost: £200 for 2 full days or £100 for 1 full day

SAT AM: Workshop One: Writing Diversely – explain the core concepts of diversity in writing, and explain why it is important for writers of all kinds to make their work inclusive, and how to research identities and avoid stereotypes

SAT PM: Workshop Two: Worldbuilding – a group exercise using pictures of real world locations to write a story using their senses to create atmosphere and setting, building out a story from the location

SAT PM: 1-2-1 session with industry professional Miriam Tobin – Miriam Tobin grew up in London and studied English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. She then lived in Barcelona where she worked at the Ella Sher Literary Agency before returning to London to join Rogers, Coleridge and White in 2017. She works closely with Claire Wilson on her eclectic list of children’s authors and with Zoë Waldie on her adult list. She loves discovering new voices and is always on the lookout for quirky stories, distinctive styles and well-drawn characters.

SUN AM: Workshop Three: Working with publishers – the process of submitting to agents and editors, the timeline of editing with a publisher, we will also work on crafting query letters, synopsis and pitches

SUN PM: Workshop Four: Writing with STEM – how to write science fiction based on articles in the news. We will choose a recent news topic based on a scientific subject and use the ideas and concepts to create an engaging story

Inclusive of the following:

Free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel
Notepad and Pen at each place setting
HUB Sweets
Hub Conference Café:
Unlimited use throughout meeting including full range of Teas, Coffees, Herbal & Fruit Teas
Fully stocked fridge with soft drinks, mineral water and orange juice
Selection of Flapjacks available in morning & Cakes in the afternoon
Fresh fruit available throughout the day
Lunch
Still and Sparkling Mineral Water
Complimentary use of leisure facilities including a state-of-the-art health and fitness club, spa and large pool (via prior arrangement)
Free Car Parking available

Venue: Village Hotel, Dolomite Lane, Coventry Business Park, Coventry CV4 9GZ

Tickets are on sale now!

I’m launching a podcast!

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Some news! I’m a big fan of writing podcasts, and I’ve been wanting to make one myself for a while. So Lucy Powrie, author of The Paper & Hearts Society and #UKYAchat creator, has teamed up with me to create Dog-Eared Pages, a new literary podcast full of book recommendations and writing advice. Specifically our chat focuses on that weird intersection between classics (Lucy’s area of expertise) and genre fiction (mine).
The first episode is coming on Monday. This time, we’re discussing The Books that Made Us – including The Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted, North & South, Pride & Prejudice, Shirley, His Dark Materials and Nevermoor.
It’s 55 minutes long and you’ll be able to find it at soundcloud.com/dogearedpages.
New episodes will come out every two weeks. Next up: summer reads!

I’m really excited about this fun new project and if you’re a fan of podcasts too, I hope you join us both. Hopefully by the end of the episodes your book wishlist will be bursting at the seams.

Writing a ‘readable’ novella for Barrington Stoke

When Barrington Stoke approached me about writing an accessible novella for struggling readers, I knew immediately that I wanted to write a science fiction story.

The sci-fi genre can be incredibly hard to get into for new readers. Books tend to be 500+ pages long, with lots of dense science facts and made-up terminology that’s been developed by generations of writers over the year (see: artificial gravity, terraforming, parallel universe, hive mind).

I wanted to write a more readable story that still uses all of my favourite sci-fi elements – there are hints of Binti, Jeeves & Wooster, Starfleet Academy from Star Trek, Saga, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

This novella is designed to be a jumping-off point to help readers explore the whole canon of sci-fi, hopefully while feeling like there might be a place for them in the genre, after all.

This is nothing like my usual science fiction novels. It’s not based in science at all. There’s not even a human in the story. It’s full of sentient volcanoes, bicycle-riding-butterflies, clockwork birds and golden gears and cogs. I hope that it feels as magical to you as it did to me, while I was writing it. And if you’ve not read much sci-fi before, I hope this encourages you to give the genre a try.

I want to write a sequel set on Dorian’s underwater planet – I have a plot already planned out, so fingers crossed I get chance to write it! Hugo and Dorian’s relationship still has a lot more story to tell.

I want to speak a bit about Barrington Stoke, and the amazing work they do. For their readable books, they work to make sure that sentence structure is chronological and easy to understand, there are plenty of dialogue markers to make the speaker obvious, and there isn’t any complicated formatting.

As an example, there’s one of the (many!) rounds of edits this book went through.

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Each word was analysed carefully several times to make sure it was the best choice. At the end, it still feels like my writing voice, which is an incredible feat! I feel really lucky to have been able to work with Barrington Stoke on this

Fancast –

Hugo (voice)  – Eddie Redmayne

Dorian (voice) – Jack Farthing

Ada (voice) – Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Playlist –

Campus//Vampire Weekend

Like Real People Do//Hozier

Death of a Bachelor//Panic! at the Disco

When the Party’s Over//Kina Grannis

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Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

A wildly imaginative sci-fi adventure from YA star Lauren James, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+.

The Starlight Watchmaker is a 20,000 word novella which will be published in paperback and eBook by Barrington Stoke on 16th July 2019. Cover designed by Helen Crawford-White.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles | Wordery

Tumblr tag | Join mailing list to be notified on release day | Writing inspirations  | Read the first chapter on Wattpad

Preorder a signed paperback copy from my Etsy (comes with assorted bookmarks and postcards)

Buy a Hugo (tattooed android) pin on my Etsy

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Moodboard about the book

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Upcoming events, online courses &c

Lots of stuff to tell you today! First up, my Writers HQ Coventry retreat this Saturday still has a few spots left.  I‘m not running the June date and there’s no August retreat.

Applications are now open for my @writementor mentoring and editing online course.

I’m doing a panel at Waterstones Nottingham next week. I’ll be talking about my time at the Uni of Nottingham, writing while studying and diversity in fiction.

I’m also doing an event at Cymera Festival in Edinburgh in a few weeks with Tom Pollock.

And if your child is in years 5-9 in the West Midlands, my Spark Young Writers group in Rugby is about to open to submissions for next year.

And a bit further off, but my writing diversely day course at Cambridge University’s ICE is taking bookings, with an amazing discount if you’re a teacher.

I’m also doing a video talk at the Write Mentor online conference Wow-Con.

All my public events are here.

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The Starlight Watchmaker is up for pre-order on my etsy shop, and the sets of book letters should be shipping next week for everyone who has pre-ordered one.

And if you can’t wait for my writementor mentoring course, I have a free slot for an editorial critique next month due to a cancellation. Usually I’m booked up a few months in advance so this is pretty rare.

You may be wondering how I have chance to write these days, if I’m doing all this. Yeah…. I don’t know either. 😅

My next book – The Starlight Watchmaker!

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Surprise! I have a SECOND BOOK coming out this year!

The Starlight Watchmaker is a novella about a lonely android watchmaker at an alien academy, and the pompous Duke who drags him out of his attic workshop. It’s coming out in paperback in July with Barrington Stoke, and it’s designed to be really readable for struggling readers.

I had so much fun writing this, as I basically combined all of my favourite things into one story. There are hints of Binti, Jeeves & Wooster, Starfleet Academy from Star Trek, Saga, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. It’s full of sentient volcanoes, bicycle-riding-butterflies, clockwork birds and golden gears and cogs.

I can’t wait to tell you more about it over the next three months – first off, by showing you the gorgeous cover next week!

Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

A wildly imaginative sci-fi adventure from YA star Lauren James, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+.
#StarlightWatchmaker

The Starlight Watchmaker is a 20,000 word novella which will be published in paperback and eBook by Barrington Stoke on 16th July 2019.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles | Wordery | Preorder a signed paperback copy from my Etsy (comes with assorted bookmarks and postcards)

Tumblr tag | Join mailing list to be notified on release day | Writing inspirations

 

Short story, deleted scene and more

short story

For any speedy readers who have already finished reading The Quiet at the End of the World, I’ve posted a deleted scene where Lowrie and Shen steal an antique carriage and Childhood Sweethearts – a 6000 word fake dating AU short story.

My first Writers HQ retreat is next Saturday in Coventry! Come along if you have a book/dissertation/proposal to get WRITTEN.

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Another teaching announcement after my Uni of Cambridge day course. I’m teaming up with Write Mentor to run a writing course this September.