New ‘writing for teenagers’ course

jessieheartsnycMy lovely friend Keris Stainton is running a six-week online course on writing for teenagers.

Keris has had three YA novels published by Orchard Books and is an enthusiastic and inspirational person. I know from personal experience that Keris gives insightful and thoughtful feedback; if you want to write for teenagers, this is a wonderful opportunity!

The course begins mid-January and costs just £50 (special introductory price). Find full details here.

Friday Five: Wunderlist, books and do-goodery

Goodness, it’s Friday already.

1. I love this by Nathan Bransford (ex-literary agent turned author). It’s the publishing process in GIF form. Very funny.

2. I saw this on Twitter (via Chris Addison, I think) and it’s a great (and hassle-free) bit of do-goodery. Mothers and children who have escaped domestic abuse and are spending Christmas in a refuge are likely to have fled their homes in a hurry leaving even the essentials behind. You can provide a gift for a child who would otherwise have nothing on Christmas day.

3. Laini Taylor’s follow up to Daughter of Smoke and Bone is out next month (8th November in the UK). It’s called Days of Blood and Starlight and I can’t wait!

4. (And 5. It’s that good).

I’m a list kind of girl (can’t you tell?!) and have always kept to-do lists on scrappy bits of paper and in notebooks. However, all that has now changed. Keris wrote about Wunderlist – a brilliant (and free) cross-platform application earlier in the week and I’m very, very grateful.

I’m in love. It has a neat and attractive interface, is simple to use, and it syncs between your devices so you can keep your list updated on your phone, Mac, PC, netbook, tablet, whatever.  You can have as many different lists as your organised little heart desires, swapping tasks easily between them. You can also click to view only the tasks for that day (or week), safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to forget anything because it’s in your ‘master list’. Oh, my stars; I feel faint.

Also, and fellow list-makers will understand this, it executes a pleasing ‘strikethrough’ when you tick something off and stores  it at the bottom of the screen under ‘completed tasks’.

In all seriousness, I’ve been more organised and productive in the last couple of days than I’ve been all month. I’ve even remembered to post my Friday Five!*

*Okay, Friday Four. Nobody’s perfect.

Author Interview: Keris Stainton

I’m very excited to introduce my very first author interview on the blog – YA author, journalist and blogger, Keris Stainton.  

Me: The book is set in New York and one of the main characters is American, but it all rings absolutely true.  Did you do a lot of research and was it a nightmare getting the language right?
Keris: Thank you. If watching American TV and films counts as research then, yes, I did loads 🙂 I also asked on Twitter about certain words – “Would an 18-year-old American boy say this?” It was funny because I’d almost always get a lot of different answers. But it wasn’t a nightmare – I really enjoyed it. The only thing was – still is, actually – panicking that I’d got something wrong. I noticed Finn using the word “tap” in the very final run through. Faucet! Not tap!

Me: The setting of the book is a triumph. The city feels more like another character than mere scenery and I’m guessing you’re a fan of the place. Could you tell us your favourite things to do, see and eat in New York?

Keris: Thank you again! Yes, a reviewer described the book as “a love letter to New York” and I really think – hope – it is. I was obsessed with the place before I ever went there. When Jessie’s parents take the mickey out of her for pretending to live in New York as a child, that’s totally based on me. I first went there in 1999 and have been four more times since. I’d love to be able to go every year, but haven’t quite sorted myself financially for that yet!
I think I put almost all of my favourite things to do, see and eat in the book! The main thing I tell everyone to do is go to Top of the Rock. I’ve been up the Empire State Building a few times and while that is, of course, wonderful, I think Top of the Rock is better. It looks gorgeous, you get a breathtaking view of Central Park and you can see the Empire State Building (which is the one thing missing from the view *from* the Empire State Building!). The Roosevelt Island Tramway is fabulous too, as long as you’re not scared of heights (also there’s nothing to do on Roosevelt Island so you just have to turn around and come back, but it’s still worth it). Food-wise, you have to get a pretzel and a hot dog from a street vendor. That is a definite must. 

Me: What are the best and worst things about writing YA fiction?

Keris: The best thing is getting to create characters and settings and stories and then just live in them for a while. And getting sweet, funny, enthusiastic comments from readers. The YA blogging community is wonderful too. The worst thing? Same as any genre: waiting and worrying. 

Me: I know that you have two children and work as a journalist as well as writing novels. I am in awe of your productivity. What’s your secret? If there isn’t a secret (boo!), what’s a typical working day like for you?

Keris: Thank you, but it’s all smoke and mirrors – I’m incredibly lazy, honestly. I do very little work. I work well with a deadline so I can actually cram quite a lot of writing into a short timescale, but the rest of the time I don’t do much at all. I think because I blog quite a lot and I’m always on Twitter I come over as being a lot more productive than I am! My typical working day is spent faffing around online until an hour before I have to pick my son up from school and then going into a mad panic!

Me: That sound reassuringly familiar! To wrap up, can you give us any hints about the next Keris Stainton book?

Keris: I don’t know if I can say since nothing’s definite yet, but I’m hoping to write more books set in glamorous locations… Keep your fingers crossed for me! 🙂

Thanks so much, Keris!

As promised, you have a chance to win a (literally) shiny new copy of Jessie Hearts NYC.  Just leave a comment before the closing date (midnight GMT, Sunday 17th July 2011) and I’ll pick one name at random.

*Competition open to UK-only, I’m afraid.

Book News: Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton

Keris Stainton is a relatively new voice on the YA book scene (her debut, Della Says OMG, was published last year), but she writes with such an assured voice it’s hard to believe she hasn’t been doing this forever.

Her second book, Jessie Hearts NYC is published on 7th July, and here’s the blurb:

Jessie’s just arrived in New York, hoping to forget about her awful ex.
New Yorker Finn is in love with his best friend’s girlfriend.
They might be perfect together, but in a city of eight million people, will they find each other?

Sounds good, no?

Okay, I admit it. I read this book while it was still in draft form as Keris is a friend of mine. Still, I wouldn’t tell you it was brilliant unless it were true. And it is.

To celebrate the book’s release, Keris has kindly agreed to be interviewed here – on this very blog. I will also be running a giveaway (of the book) in her honour.

Watch this space!

Authors for Japan

My lovely friend, YA author Keris Stainton, has done a very good thing indeed.

In order to raise money for the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal, she has set up an online auction for book-related goodies.

A host of generous authors responded immediately to Keris’s idea (overwhelming her slightly, I think!), offering brilliant prizes – including signed books, first editions, manuscript critiques, mentoring, and the chance to have a character named after you.

Bidding begins at 8am (GMT) tomorrow at Authors for Japan.