Sunday, 21 July 2013

Longlists, Shortlists and Awards

Tower Hamlets shortlist 2013

Muse: Tell me, Katherine, now that Sword of Light is on the Tower Hamlets shortlist... what do you feel about awards?

To me, it's a strange mix of delight that someone somewhere has actually read my book and enjoyed it enough to nominate it for an award, coupled with anxiety that, having been catapulted into the public eye, my book will fail (that is, I will fail, because I wrote it). And then everyone will laugh at me, my publisher will be disappointed, and I will never get another contract EVER, as long as I live... (Muse: this is a common author whine - best to ignore her.)

Awards get books and their authors noticed, so I guess publishers quite like them. But there is not much I can do to help Sword of Light now, because I wrote it more than a year ago and my creative input stopped the moment my publisher launched it into the world. I suppose I feel a bit like a parent, watching their child perform on stage - willing my book to do well in its shimmery jacket, yet almost too terrified to watch!

So now I'm going to cover my eyes until the winner is announced.

Ha, the title of this post makes it sound as if my author has been nominated for about a hundred awards! This is not true. Since most of her books are at the younger end of the more award-heavy YA, her brush with these things is rare enough to provoke blushing blog posts like this one, so I can tell you she's secretly delighted that Book 1 of the Pendragon Legacy is on the Tower Hamelts shortlist, along with:

Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda
The Snow Merchant by Sam Gaynor
Goblins by Philip Reeve
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne
Wonder by RJ Palacio

A shortlisting means Katherine will have a chance to meet the other authors and find out if "RJ" and "Sam" are girls or boys - but she'll have to wait until November before we know the result. Which means that while my author has her eyes shut, I've got a chance to tell you about some of her other book awards.

Longlisted books:
Carnegie Medal: Spellfall, I am the Great Horse, and Sword of Light were all longlisted for this award in their own lunchtimes. The lists were long. The books fell short (well OK, I am the Great Horse wasn't that short...) and all got the hoof when the shortlist was drawn up. My author didn't get to go to the award ceremony, so I gave her a sprinkle of Unicorn Glitter as a consolation prize.

Shortlisted books:
Sword of Light - Tower Hamlets (see above!)

Winning books:
This might be a bit before your time, but Song Quest won the Branford Boase Award (for debut novels) when it was first published in 2000. This was rather exciting, since not only did my author get to travel to London and go to a big award ceremony and meet everyone in children's publishing, she also got to stand on a stage and shake hands with Jacqueline Wilson (one of the judges that first year) and see all her fabulous rings at close quarters.

(still seeking photo of Katherine and Jacqueline W shaking hands... know I've got one somewhere?)

This is the actual award - a silver butterfly inlaid into a black wooden box that opens like a book to reveal a silver plaque inside.

Branford Boase Award

The editor of the winning book gets one too, and the little boxes are still made specially each year for new Branford Boase winners. This year's winner, announced last week, was Dave Shelton and his editor David Fickling with "A Boy and a Bear in a Boat".

Sorry I couldn't be there to congratulate the two Davids (no invitation arrived for the poor old Unicorn this year!), but if you've ever been on a longlist or shortlist or won an award of any kind for your writing, here's some Unicorn Glitter specially for you...

Congratulations! love Razz x

(I trust you to take as much glitter as you think you deserve - please leave a tiny sprinkling for my author's book in case I need it!)

Monday, 15 July 2013

Writing the Tarot

What has the Unicorn been up to this summer? Well, the Grail of Stars needed some final editing tweaks before publication, the sun finally came out just as we finished them, and then my author disappeared! Turns out she has been to a secret author conference in deepest Oxfordshire, where they do all kinds of authorly things such as five minute readings from work in progress, discussing celebrity series (many of them ghost-written by real authors), drawing pictures with the opposite hand while blindfolded, eating too many puddings, drama workshops, comparing sales figures, finding out more about ebooks, eating more puddings, collecting tips for travelling with books, and - to work off some of the puddings - yoga.

To prove she has been "working", here are some pictures she took and a poem she wrote at a Writing the Tarot workshop led by Jenny Alexander (who blogs in the House of  Dreams, if you want to know more).

Katherine's random major arcana card - "The World"

I am the World.
I am the centre from which all things spring:
The moon and the stars,
The air and the sea,
The growing green,
And the corn that feeds man.
I am the flaming torch and the burning fire,
I am the sword and the cauldron.
I am desire.

It was surprisingly hard work...

The boys - Jonny Zucker and Joe Friedman

The girls - Rosemary Hayes, Lynne Benton, Jenny Alexander, Jackie Marchant

The thinkers - Miriam Halahmy, Celia Rees, and... can you identify the sleeper?

We all started with "The Fool", because this card means new beginnings. In two of these packs he is foolishly/innocently stepping off a cliff as he begins his journey. Fortunately, in Katherine's pack (centre) he is just setting out up a tempting sunny path that divides ahead and might lead to the cliff, having ignored a baby with its hand in the fire and its screaming mother. I am not in The Fool cards (because I am no fool, obviously!), but if you look closely at a tarot pack, you might well find unicorns in some of the other cards.

Three Fools
This workshop proves that anyone can use a tarot pack with its beautiful pictures to inspire a personal or creative journey, rather than just use the cards in the more usual way to tell fortunes. The workshop reminds me of the magical Story World cards sold by Katherine's publisher Templar, which can be used in a similar way and are especially good for younger writers.

Have you ever been inspired by a pack of cards? Let the Unicorn know!


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