Monday, 21 July 2014

My Day at YALC (+ a giveaway!)

Having heard horror stories about queues to get in to LFCC on Saturday, I was up at 4:30am on Sunday morning, on the road by 5:30 and in the queue by 7:30. Surprisingly, it wasn't too long yet (having missed the chance to buy tickets advance, I was in the 'pay on the day' queue, which was actually shorter than the queue for those with pre-paid tickets!) and although we had to wait for an hour and a half before the doors opened, the time flew by as I had Sally Green's brilliant novel, Half Bad, to keep me occupied! It hit 9, and, to my great delight, we were in within minutes!

I have to admit, my first impression of the Book Zone was that it was smaller than I had expected - I mean, I knew it was just one section of LFCC, but still, somehow I had been expecting it to be bigger. Nonetheless, the compact layout of YALC turned out to be pretty handy later, as it was made it easy to nip quickly between signings and workshops or talks.

YALC: What Catherine Did

Talk - 'How to get published'
The main thing I took away from this talk is that it's hard work writing a novel! I mean, I knew this before, but, still, I got even more of a sense of the great commitment and perseverance that is required to write a book. Sally Green (author of Half Bad) recommended that aspiring writers look for online creative writing courses, for example with the Open University, Phil Earle (author of The Bubble Wrap Boy, Heroic, Saving Daisy and Being Billy) suggested that, when sending query letters, it's a good idea to include a two-line summary that really captures the essence of your novel, and the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook was named as a good way to go about looking for an agent.

Workshop - Finding your writing voice
This inspiring workshop was hosted by the lovely, lovely Alexia Casale (author of The Bone Dragon). Unfortunately, it was really hard to hear her above the din of LFCC, but she tried her best to bellow as loud as she could, and we all leaned in close to catch the pearls of wisdom she delivered. The main message was, as written on the handout we received: 
'Developing a unique writing voice is not about trying to be different. It's about recognising how you're already different and unique, then harnessing that.'
Alexia encouraged us to do this by refining our understanding of 'aesthetic' - the things that we notice and find beautiful (beauty, she emphasised, was very broad and did not necessarily mean 'prettiness' in the conventional sense). A suggestion she made was, whenever you go somewhere, to think about what you're noticing that other people might not.

Talk - Sisters Doing it for Themselves
This was probably my favourite event of the day - a entertaining, empowering, all-female panel hosted by Sarra Manning, featuring Tanya Byrne (Heart Shaped Bruise), Isobel Harrop (The Isobel Journal), Julie Mayhew (Red Ink) and Holly Smale (Geek Girl). As well as being a very funny, enjoyable talk, serious issues were raised, for example a member of the audience asked the question: 'Do you feel like you get taken less seriously in the industry because you are women?'

Signings - Sally Green (Half Bad) , James Dawson (Hollow Pike) , Meg Rosoff (How I live Now), Sarra Manning (Adorkable) and Sophie McKenzie (Split Second)

'It's a one trick cage'

'Beware the trees'
'Stay pretty, keep reading + START writing!'

Also, I met some really lovely people! I'd thought I would be too shy to approach any bloggers or talk to anyone, but I did speak to a few people! What I love so much about the YA community is that everyone is so lovely and friendly - authors, publishers, bloggers - we're all united by our love of books!

Now, there was so much bookish swag at YALC, and between my dad, my sister and I we managed to pick up some duplicates, so I thought...perfect opportunity for a GIVEAWAY! Here's what you can win...

So colourful and bookish!

An assortment of bookmarks, wristbands, badges and postcards, a Grasshopper Jungle bus/train pass case, a The Fault in Our Stars poster, a We Were Liars poster, a shiny pink pencil...

...Rock War: The Audition
(novella) by Robert Muchamore, Geek Girl: Team Geek (novella) by Holly Smale, samples from Half Bad by Sally Green, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and Endgame: The Calling by James Frey...
...And,finally, a black 'books with bite' tote bag!

N.B This giveaway is only open to entrants from the UK; sorry, international folks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you go to YALC? What did you think? If you didn't go, will you go in future?

Friday, 11 July 2014

The summer has begun!

I survived GCSEs, another school year is over and, yes, the summer holidays have begun! 

Gosh, I just checked, and realised that I haven't posted since February! Seriously, since then it has been one crazily fast downwards rollercoaster ride towards GCSE exams - first the frantic flurry to finish covering exam syllabuses in class, then the frenzied revision period (that is, the period when you wish/hope that your brain is a sponge and attempt to mentally absorb everything you have learned over the past three years in twelve different subjects in such a way that all useful information will NOT desert you later on in your moment of need), and THEN the exam papers themselves (where you scribble frantically, eat lots of chocolate and try not to run out of time)! And I survived! 6 weeks (although, admittedly, there were no exams during the half-term week in the middle), 12 GCSEs, 24 exam papers (!!), and who knows how many hours of revision?!...but I made it through! :D Just have to wait until the end of August for those results...

The pile of stuff I never have to look at again!
To the right, you can see the pile of folders which I have gleefully thrust towards my sister (who will be doing her GCSEs next year)! Quite frankly, I can hardly believe that there was enough room in my brain to absorb all of that information...  

I also amassed rather an impressive collection of past papers and random scribblings that I have thrown ceremoniously into the recycling bin (some of my friends had bonfires to burn their school books and revision notes, but I took the green way because I AM AN ECO WARRIOR!!)

Nevertheless, this is boring stuff. In other, MUCH MORE EXCITING NEWS...

Wait for it...

I AM GOING TO YALC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEPPP!!! 

Every time I think about it, I get even more excited!!!!!! Sadly, I can't go tomorrow (Saturday) but I will be there on Sunday, and I. CAN'T. WAIT.

It's going to be a fantabulously bookish way to begin the summer!

Are any of you going to be at YALC?? Let me know in the comments if you're going! And here's to a great summer, everyone! :D