Megaphone – making plans!

Happy National Writing day! As good a day as any to let you all know that I AM planning to run Megaphone again. It was so successful and we built such a warm and supportive group, that it seems right to build on that foundation. The current plan (open to your suggestions for change) is to run the Writer Development Scheme once again, offering places to six mentees, and, in addition, to run events around England that support BAME children’s writers at different stages of their writing life. The details are still being firmed up and the grant application is in progress,  but I wanted to let you know that things are moving.

Here’s how you can get involved right now:

Last time, Megaphone was supported by some fantastic partners, without whom the programme would simply not have happened. This time, we are continuing to build on these partnerships and to make new ones. Are you a writer, publisher, agent or organisation who would like to be involved in the next phase of Megaphone? There are lots of ways in which this could happen, and I’d be glad to talk through ideas. Please get in touch to let me know of your interest. Email Leila at megaphone.write@gmail.com

Are you a children’s writer of colour who has strong feelings about what is really needed to create, support and sustain meaningful diversity in children’s literature? Are you reading this, shaking your head and thinking “Yes but….” or “What she ought to be doing is…” Please get in touch. Email Leila at megaphone.write@gmail.com . I would love to hear your thoughts. There is a Facebook group for consultation so please let me know if you would like to be added to that too. Or tweet me using the hashtag #MegaphoneWhatWeNeedIs . Or comment below!

Huge thanks to everyone who has supported the scheme so far – you have made the difference.

Leila Rasheed

GAP Arts mentoring for young Birmingham theatre writers

GAP Arts is offering mentoring for theatre writers based in Birmingham, ideally Balsall Heath, and aged 18 – 30. This will be a wonderful opportunity for learning, skills development and growth. See below for details and how to apply:

2020 VISION: Young Theatre Writers . https://www.thegapartsproject.co.uk/
The GAP is just embarking on an ambitious and exciting year of story and theatre at our home in Balsall Heath, courtesy of Arts Council England project funding. Our 2020 VISION project seeks to put the stories and experiences of the local community right at the very heart of our work and creates a wide range of high-quality creative opportunities for young writers and theatre makers to be involved.

The 2020 Young Theatre Writers Scheme will see up to six young Birmingham playwrights mentored and supported by established playwright Chris Cooper, who will work with you both as a group and individually. The scheme is a central element of the 2020 VISION project as a whole, with the twin aims of developing local young artists and generating new writing of relevance to Balsall Heath.

Collaborations
The programme will focus on structure and storytelling. In particular, you will explore the features and potential of the monodrama form (not to be confused with the monologue). You will learn how to develop new work using first-hand experiences and local stories as a stimulus, working from a range of source material gathered from the local community via The GAP’s 2020 VISION oral history element.
As well as also working practically on dramatic texts and attending theatre performances, the scheme also offers new playwrights the opportunity to collaborate with The GAP’s Basement Theatre Ensemble, a collective of emerging actors, designers and theatre makers, to test out your writing in practice at The GAP’s Theatre MIX scratch nights.

Commissions
Each of the writers completing the scheme will be commissioned to write a short exploratory dramatic text, for which you will receive one-to-one mentoring and support from Chris Cooper. There is, in addition, potential for these pieces to be developed in production for public performance.

Details
· Young Birmingham-based writers, 18-30 yrs

· An interest in developing writing for community theatre

· Ideally with links to, knowledge of or interest in the Balsall Heath area and community

· Scheme starts late April and runs to December 2020

· Involves 6-10 days commitment plus self-guided writing time

· Commissions: £500 available for each writer completing the scheme

To apply

Please email ceri@thegapartsproject.co.uk with 2020 YOUNG THEATRE WRITERS in the subject heading, stating your age and postcode, outlining a bit about yourself and your interest in the scheme and attaching a short piece of dramatic writing (ideally) or a piece of creative writing. Deadline: applications will be accepted up until 31 March.

NB: The GAP positively welcomes applicants from all communities and backgrounds, including those with English as a second language.

So this looks like an amazing thing.https://cleanprose.co.uk/ I have tried writing in co-working spaces before, but I found that writing didn’t quite gel with other professions’ working methods. People would take phone calls and so on, and it just didn’t work. Y I loved the sense of community and being around other people, though. Working from home is  great in many ways, but can be very isolating. And of course, things like Arvon, which are perfectly designed for writers to work together, are just not available every day of the year.

Clean Prose looks like an imaginative way for writers to work together – it provides quiet space, community space, and events. I hope the idea spreads to other towns and cities in the UK.

 

The Carole Blake Open Doors project seeks applications!

Many of the barriers that people of colour  encounter as writers can, in my view, be traced back to the lack of diversity in publishing. Editors of colour are few and far between, and literary agents still fewer and further! The Carole Blake Open Doors project is one example of a literary agency trying to improve things. Could this opportunity be right for you? DEADLINE: MARCH 1ST.

“The Carole Blake Open Doors Project, is a programme specifically aimed at encouraging candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter the publishing industry.

The Carole Blake Open Doors Project will offer ten days of work shadowing to a selected applicant over a two-week period, including funding for travel and up to thirteen nights’ accommodation in London. The programme, which will run twice a year, will include close mentorship with Blake Friedmann’s book agents, the opportunity to attend selected meetings with editors and clients, and the chance to be involved in every aspect of day-to-day life as an agent. It is intended that candidates will come away from the project with varied knowledge of working for a leading literary agency, the beginnings of new and essential relationships in the publishing industry, and some excellent experience to include on their CVs.

“Carole offered me my first internship in publishing at Blake Friedman. She was a formidable figure, yet warm and funny. She was deeply encouraging to me as one from a diverse background based on my age, class and race – though it was our mutual love of a great pair of shoes that really sealed the deal!  An unforgettable, truly phenomenal woman.” – Valerie Brandes, Founder & Publisher, Jacaranda Books, and former BFA intern.

Carole Blake and the Blake Friedmann team have always placed great value on diversity and openness, in the company’s client list as well as its hiring practices. We aim to build on this foundation and be proactive about drawing from a wider pool of talented applicants who are passionate about books and ambitious about getting a job in publishing.

You can read an account of taking part in the project from our first Open Doors intern Ada Igwebu here. “

AND THE STARS WERE BURNING BRIGHTLY lights up the world of books!

I am incredibly excited to be holding the proof copy of And the Stars Were Burning Brightly  by Danielle Jawando. Just look at this gorgeous thing! Then go and pre-order it from your bookseller of choice!

https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/And-the-Stars-Were-Burning-Brightly/Danielle-Jawando/9781471178771

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stars-Were-Burning-Bpa/dp/1471178773

https://www.waterstones.com/book/and-the-stars-were-burning-brightly/danielle-jawando/9781471178771

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‘And The Stars Were Burning Brightly’ by Danielle Jawando

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly was written during the Megaphone scheme, so it is an amazing and really special experience to be reading it again two years on and seeing how it has developed during the editorial process. I was not surprised to see that it was the most requested proof on NetGalley, nor to hear that Melvin Burgess has called it ‘an utter page turner from a storming new talent’.

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Melvin Burgess loved it!

 

Stars’ subject matter remains – and will remain – extremely important. No teenager or parent in Britain today will be unaware of the potential for social media to get out of hand. Danielle has personal experience of this, which she draws on for this wise, moving YA novel. But the novel is so much more than a documentary. My heart ached for Nathan, on a quest for the truth behind his brother’s death. Beautiful meditations on art and space science mingle with a gritty story of ordinary teenagers trying to find human connections and freedom in a world that wants to dehumanise them.

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly is an extraordinary book and deserves all the praise it is getting (and it’s getting a lot).  Published by Simon and Schuster, it comes out in March 2020 . You can follow it on Twitter on #Burnbright @DanielleJawando @SimonKids_UK.

Since Megaphone, Danielle has also written a life of Maya Angelou for the children’s series: Little Guides to Great Lives. Thanks to series such as these, there is now no excuse for parents and teachers to not introduce children to great people of colour in history. The books are out there – go and buy them!

‘Maya Angelou’ by Danielle Jawando

As the recent Book Trust Represents report showed, writers of colour are still under-represented in children’s literature. In 2017, just 1.98% of children’s book creators were British people of colour. For context, the 2011 census indicated that 19.5% of people in England and Wales were from minority ethnic backgrounds. That is a  stark contrast, and it’s the very reason that Megaphone was created.  So this copy of And The Stars Were Burning Brightly isn’t just a proof copy. It is wonderful and encouraging evidence that writers can make a difference. Well done Danielle!

 

 

The Emma Press wants your picture books!

From 14th January 2019, The Emma Press will be accepting picture book proposals for children. Successful proposals will be matched with an illustrator, and authors who illustrate their own work are also welcome to submit. Find out more here: https://theemmapress.com/2018/11/call-for-picture-book-manuscripts/

I’ve known The Emma Press for a while now, as an energetic and exciting Birmingham-based poetry publisher with a strong reputation for bringing translated work to the UK. They are now branching out into picture books, and having seen some of their illustrated books, I am looking forward to some wonderful, high quality publications. Good luck to all who apply!
Emma-Press-logo

Survey results: are BAME writers being published in 2018?

Back in June, I posted a survey into how many single-authored children’s books (7-11 age range) by BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) writers were due for release in 2018. I can only apologise for the delay in publishing the results – it has just been a really busy year. Anyway, this is a small sample of 6 respondents and therefore limited conclusions can be drawn (you should wait for the big research by Book Trust and Melanie Ramdarshan Bold!), but I thought people might be interested to see the results anyway.

Key conclusions:

  • Small publishers are doing a much better job of publishing BAME authors than medium-to-large publishers.
  • 50% of respondents were publishing no BAME authors at all in 2018.
  • 7% of forthcoming titles in the 7 – 11 age range are by BAME authors. 13% of the general UK population is of BAME origin. This is a discrepancy of nearly 50%.

Full data (you will need a .pdf viewer. Please let me know in the comments if it isn’t working.):
How many BAME children’s authors are being published in 2018.ods

The survey remains open at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VP5ST3T so if your organisation has not yet completed it, please feel free to do so and I will update as soon as I have enough data.

Apply for Write Now by July 9th

Late to this party, but there’s still time to apply for this excellent opportunity:

“Penguin has launched WriteNow – a programme which aims to find, mentor and publish new writers and illustrators from communities under-represented on the UK’s bookshelves!

WriteNow offers:

  • Free workshops in Liverpool, London or Nottingham where budding writers and illustrators can learn more about the publishing process, hear from published authors and literary agents, and receive one-on-one feedback on their work from one of our editors or designers;
  • Chance to join our mentoring programme, being matched with a Penguin editor or designer for a year to develop their book or artwork;
  • Aimed at people from under-represented communities including Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) writers, LGBTQ writers, writers with disabilities and writers from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds
  • Open to illustrators of children’s picture books this year for the first time.

Now entering its third year, WriteNow is already having a tangible impact on our publishing – so far we’ve signed deals with 5 writers from the programme, with many more to come.

To apply, writers and illustrators need to visit www.write-now.live. The deadline for applications is Monday 9 July.”

THE MUSLIMS is the 2018 Little Rebels Award Winner!

I’m reblogging this and linking to a piece I wrote a couple of years back, to underline why I really loved The Muslims by Zainab Mian. It really is a desperately needed and important book: http://theasianwriter.co.uk/2015/10/a-new-scheme-hopes-to-promote-bme-voices-in-childrens-literature/ I would love to see bookshops stocking it widely – I had to order it into Birmingham Waterstones when it should be front and centre in the shop: there is such a big audience for this book in this city!

The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award

Zanib Mian collects her prize at the London Radical Bookfair

The Alliance of Radical Booksellers is delighted to announce that the winner of this year’s Little Rebels Children’s Book Award for Radical Fiction is Zanib Mian for her book, The Muslims (Sweet Apple Books 2017).

The winning title is a comic-style-illustrated chapter book which explores the life of Londoner, Omar, as he navigates a new school which comes complete with its resident bully. Keen to apply Islamic teachings to the challenges he faces and armed with a fiercely hyperactive imagination, Omar’s journey is a hilarious take on life as a 9-year-old child with a proud Muslim identity in contemporary Britain.

Praising the winning title, judge Patrice Lawrence said, “This is a very funny and very effective challenge to the widespread misrepresentation of Muslims in the news. More children need to get to read this book”. Judge Emily Drabble added, “If…

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