On wonderful monsters

While I was dealing with my first agent rejection, an amazingly successful writer I know, sitting in the summer light on the vast table of a beautiful old house gave me some needed perspective, "Wait until you get rejected by entire countries." 

Rejection is part of the writing game. In fact, I found it best to turn it into the game, a la Emily Carrion; rejection by agents is training. It is putting yourself in the path of potential acceptance and taking the punches rather than shying away from it for fear of bruising. Every rejection thickens your skin, is often informative and kind; it disconnects your ego, tests resolve, gives you the opportunity to improve, and trains you for the later rejections by publishers, demographics, countries and perhaps eventually time itself... I'm great with rejection. *dusts shoulder*

A pro. 

But sometimes we spend so much time growing the skills to deal with rejection that it's hard to deal with acceptance.

'Acceptance,' say it out loud with me. 

Are you prepared for it? 

I wasn't. I wasn't prepared AT ALL. We writers spend so much time fighting the rejection battle we don't see the acceptance monster creeping up and blindsiding us. It gets you in the soft parts, this wonderful monster. 

All of this means I am a puddle of emotion, proud to share that I have accepted representation by the formidable Alice Sutherland-Hawes and the Madeline Milburn Literary Agency

Here's to whatever happens next, Geronimo!

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On giving up to get where you need to go

The moment I decided I wanted to write I was failing to draw.

My family are quite talented artists, and no matter how much I tried I wasn't patient enough or good enough to draw the way I wanted to. The comics I attempted to create - a period I refer to now as my 'early nerdist' phase - weren't sufficient enough tell the stories I wanted to tell. Hours of introversion, very inky fingers, and faces that (while demonstrably not c**p) were far from the detailed characters in my head... and I gave up. Let's try writing instead, I thought...

Devouring books was something I could do with ease, but I imagined it'd take me a lifetime to write one. At 15, 'Give it till I'm 50,' I thought (which then seemed a lifetime away). Starting with short stories, the comics I dreamed drawn in words. Book 1 I finished at the age of 19 - by which I mean, my first draft. It was....done. Let's call it done, because it wasn't good. There were good bits though, I knew that. In proving to myself that I could start a story, and finish one, I fell in love with the process. Giving up on Book 1, I wondered, 'Is finishing one book a fluke?'

Book 2, took me until I was 24. Yet to take a lesson, learning by doing, copying, relying on my instincts as a reader, and still plagued with terrible grammar skills, I also got busy learning what the business of writing really meant. Not yet brave enough to 'come out' as a writer, another idea bloomed, an idea that led to....

Book 3: the great 10 year tome, which was shared on partly online. To quote my brother in the car one day, 'Stop giving it away on the internet' led to me actually braving to send it out and  eventual rejection. I gave up again...on that book. Maybe I needed to disconnect my ego a bit? I'd start meeting other writers, teachers, editors, and learn a few things about this thing called writing. Focusing my intent on learning, editing, writing short and flash fiction to find my voice. Thanks to the great teachers at the WordTheatre writer's retreat (David Means, Andres Dubus III, Richard Bausch, Pamela Painter), encouraged by them, their notes and eloquence...I found my passion again.

A four month 'fun' story to write got me in the door of the Golden Egg Academy.  Once more I sat at the keyboard, honing, learning, supported by the incredible talent and community that I now had, holding me up, keeping me going, relighting that fire when it began to wane. 

Until last year. 

Year 3 on the book and guess what? I gave up. I wasn't going to waste another 10 years on a book. This was my version of giving up anyway... I'd write something else.

Then Undiscovered Voices 2018 was announced. 

'What's to lose?' thought I, 'Let it go. If it loves me, maybe it will come back.'

  ....by Grabthar's Hammer

....by Grabthar's Hammer

Never expected I'd be longlisted.

Never imagined I'd be a chosen finalist.

And the idea that I'd be published, even a few chapters of my book? No. Not yet, I thought, still have so much time to go!

Yet tonight I'm attending the legendary Undiscovered Voices 2018 Launch party. Preparing for a smorgasbord of agents and editors. British publishing royalty awaits me and my fellow writers tonight. 

Whatever happens next, two things for me are certain: sometimes letting go of the route is what's needed to get to the end of the road; you can't do it alone. 

For me (because the road ahead is still long) and for everyone still striving (yes, we've all read blogs where writers say that, but right now it feels TRUE - you WILL get there, just perhaps not the way you think) - here's a playlist that might help keep us going through the tough parts.  

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To learn more about what got me here you can check out the www.undiscoveredvoices.com info and Download Undiscovered Voices 2018 Edition for free

On Publication & Shortlisting: (un)Discovered Voice 2018

I am incredibly humbled and excited to have been selected as one of eleven amazing authors in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles 'Undiscovered Voices' for 2018. Thanks to SCBWI and Working Partners as well as the editors and judges who volunteers their time to help Undiscovered Voices happen!

Total Published words: 4194...

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Thank you for choosing me. 

You can read the first chapters of my book 'The Boy I am' by download or purchase a print version of the anthology using the links below:

 

On publication: Bath Flash 2

The Lobsters Run Free

Total published words tally: 283

As a longlisted participant of the Bath Flash Fiction Award this year (2017) I’m so incredibly excited to get my first flash story published. 

You can buy the flash and read some amazing stories, from some fantastic international writers. See below the line!

‘Goodbye, Mr Fox’ was written following prompt words provided by Meg Pokrass (do check out her flash writing courses). 

“Every single flash I received possessed qualities I admired and envied…I marvelled at the form’s ability to permit such a range of approaches – from slices-of-life to epic narration to poetic experiments and beyond…”
— David Swann, author of Stronger, Faster, Shorter and The Privilege of Rain.
“I could not believe how many powerful stories I read in the long list of fifty stories. It was very difficult to select the short list of twenty and then to choose the winners.”
— Meg Pokrass, author of Bird Envy, Damn Sure Right and The Dog Looks Happy Upside Down.
“The stories were of a very high standard…I’m so impressed with how organized and efficient all of the Bath contests appear to be. The production of a beautiful anthology from the contest long list is also very impressive…”
— Kathy Fish, author of Together We Can Bury It and co-author of RIFT.

The Lobsters Run Free

Bath Flash Fiction Volume Two

One hundred and thirty-five flash fiction stories from world-wide authors selected from the long lists of the three Bath Flash Fiction Awards in 2017. These dazzling fictions, all 300 words or under, give us fresh insights into world wide concerns – from relationship issues and domestic situations tender or fraught, to war torn landscapes and the plight of the dispossessed. So much is compressed into so few words.

 

196mm x 134mm, 160pp

Paperback ISBN 978-1-912095-69-8

£9.99 GBP

Available Here

On being longlisted: SCBWI Undiscovered Voices 2018

My Oh My, you fabulous lot you…I’m shaking with excitement! 

For a number of years now some of you have been following my writing adventures with excitement, some with regular comments of ‘when are you getting published’, some with - let’s face it - waning tolerance at the never ending stream of text shoved into your hands/inboxes/garden hedges with pleas for feedback.

It has not been in vain.

 

I’m super excited to be able to tell you all that I have been Longlisted for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s flagship 'Undiscovered Voices’ 2018. #UV18

Two things

1) Looking down the list I am so excited to be amongst friends! Some fantastic writers I know are on the list, I just want to hug and squee with you all!

2) I have so many people to thank - but I’ll save it all for when/if I get an Oscar for best *anything*. Until then, one person gets the bulk of the love: Vanessa Harbour. 

Thank you! Jude is one step closer to the real world