We’re really happy to say that after discussions with mentors and consulting with our funders, Arts Council England, we have decide we have the capacity to add a further mentoring place for a shortlisted writer. Abimbola Fashola is our seventh mentee and we’re so excited to be working on her wonderful book with her! We will also be continuing to support all the applicants who joined our free Community programme – so if you applied and haven’t taken up your place yet, please do – there’s a Zoom meet-up this Friday and our first event, an Open Door chat about publishing with commissioning editor Stephanie King, is coming up soon after.
So, the past week may have been the busiest so far in this round of Megaphone delivery. Actually a lot (LOT – I’m going to do a free webinar on this topic) of the work takes place before the project even starts, in making the funding application – but aside from that, these days of reading all the applications, agonising over which to shortlist, are intense. This is the first time we’ve also tried to give every eligible applicant a little feedback, and that too has been demanding, with 60 eligible applicants. The emails inviting people to the Community strand are going out today, and the editors have all made their rankings, so on Monday I look forward to contacting and announcing the mentees! If you were not successful this time, please don’t be discouraged – I can’t stress enough how subjective writing competitions always are, which is exactly why this time round we created Community. See you there! – Leila
Quick update to let you all know that we have, with great difficulty, selected 10 of the 60 wonderful applications we received to send on to the editors. The shortlisted writers have been informed this morning via email. CONGRATULATIONS YOU STARS!
We will also send an email out to those who didn’t make it on this occasion. If that is you, please don’t be disheartened. We always get more good applications than we have space to mentor, and it doesn’t mean your writing isn’t good or won’t succeed elsewhere. With that in mind, I wanted to share a little about the process:
We look first and foremost at the quality of the writing sample. But what does quality mean? For me, I look for a voice that’s so much fun to read that I forget I’m reading it ‘for work’. Story-telling ability; something that makes me believe I’m there, with those people. A sense of tension and the drama in all kinds of moments.
The paragraph of ideas matters because it shows the reader whether you have a sense of where the book is going. Are there any surprises? Good surprises or just surprising surprises? We look at this second, to get more context on the whole book you want to write, and whether it seems as if you’ll be able to complete it to a publishable standard in a year (the aim of the mentoring). We also think about whether the story might work differently – whether certain editorial suggestions might make sense, for example, pitching it at a different age range.
The letter of application gives us more of a sense of where you’re coming from and where you want to get to – and we might find out from it that an applicant isn’t eligible (for example, being under 18 – please see the FAQs on this website). We don’t get many ineligible applications.
Finally, on a personal note, I just loved reading all your samples, and also all your letters of application. It was moving and empowering for me to realise that there are people out there, who I don’t know at all, who agree with me about the kind of stories and perspectives that are missing from our bookshelves – and how important it is to tell those stories, and how much we want to read them and have them to pass on to the next generation. I couldn’t put every sample I loved on the shortlist, but I do hope to keep connecting with you all via the Community strand. Keep writing!
Look what came through the post – a proof copy of DANNY CHUNG DOES NOT DO MATHS by Maisie Chan! I can’t wait to read this! Maisie’s voice is full of humour and warmth and I always loved her work when I mentored her. After setting up her own mentoring group, Bubble Tea, Maisie is returning as a mentor for Megaphone, and will be mentoring one BESEA writer in 2021. #DannyChung @PiccadillyPress @MaisieWrites https://www.maisiechan.com/ Pre-order now! Out 10th June 2021.
Golden Egg Academy are supporting Megaphone writers with an offer of one free place on their September 2021, 12-week course to an unsuccessful applicant.
We’re thrilled that GEA, led by Imogen Cooper, have just donated a free place on their September 12 week course to one applicant to Megaphone.
We already know we will get more excellent and deserving applications that we have space to mentor. Our Community strand helps us go on supporting people even if we can’t mentor them this year, and this 12-week course will be an extra offer to one applicant who is not on our 1-1 Mentoring scheme. Many thanks to GEA for supporting children’s writers of colour – and if you want to know more, there is still time to sign up for the Honkference this weekend!
I’m really excited to confirm our first three masterclass leaders – Sharna Jackson (High Rise Mystery, Mic Drop), Patrice Lawrence (Rat, Eight Pieces of Silva, Granny Ting Ting) and Bali Rai (Rani and Sukh, Mohinder’s War, Now or Never) . Find full details on this page: https://megaphonewrite.com/megaphone-masterclass-leaders-2021/ There is no doubt that our masterclass leaders are some of the best, most exciting and experienced writers for children and teenagers working today. I am delighted that they’ve agreed to be involved in Megaphone and to share what they have learned during the writing journey we are all on. More leaders will be announced shortly!
Megaphone is open for applications until 31st January 2021. The website has been updated with details of our mentors and I’ll be adding more information about the editors and authors who are supporting us in the next few days.
Happy new year! I really do hope that 2021 will be happy, or at least happier than 2020 (can’t be hard, can it). It feels as if over the past 12 months, life has simultaneously shrunk – so many activities that we used to enjoy have vanished – and expanded like some sort of nightmarish wave, overwhelming us with concern for our friends and relatives, work worries, child-care, home education, Zoom fatigue… It is fair to say that hasn’t been the year any of us wanted. I am excited however to be able to offer one opportunity at least in 2021 – support for writers of colour who want to create great stories for children. These stories – YOUR stories – will not stop being wanted and needed just because of this virus.
I’m so aware that the full effects of the pandemic on society and on emerging writers won’t be known for many months or even years in the future. There will be an effect though; it seems impossible that there wouldn’t. I would like to know how the pandemic has affected children’s writers of colour – emerging and published- in particular. Yesterday I tweeted a poll asking whether writers have found it harder or easier to write in 2020. So far the majority is ‘harder’ but there’s a significant minority for ‘easier’. So far around 64% have said it was harder, 25 % easier. What was your experience?