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!

 

 

Megaphone writer to appear in Scoop

Delighted to say that Nafisa Muhtadi, currently on the Megaphone scheme, has impressed the editor at Scoop Magazine and will be published alongside names such as Neil Gaiman, Tom Stoppard and Jacqueline Wilson! This will be her first print publication credit.

Scoop is an exciting newspaper for children aged 8 – 12, with experienced and passionate publishing professionals at the helm. Check out the current issue here: http://www.scoopthemag.co.uk/issue-archive/

Finding The Story: Tina Freeth

Tina Freeth

A guest post by Megaphone participant Tina Freeth, on the amazing milestone that is completing the first draft of your first novel! 

FINDING THE STORY by Tina Freeth

As 2017 started, like previous years before I had half-heartedly declared some resolutions…the same old ones…lose some weight, see friends more, learn a language, learn to play a guitar, write a novel, etc. There is one resolution that I can happily say I have achieved (yes, it’s only week two of the new year!) and that has been to finish the FIRST draft of a novel. Notice I’ve CAPITALISED the word FIRST.

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Tina Freeth: excited about what’s to come!

This has been a goal for many years. Alas, it’s only a first draft and my first drafts are not as good as other people’s first drafts. I’m not being modest or self-deprecating, it’s true. It’s not polished, it’s riddled with gaps, spelling mistakes and most likely many inconsistencies of character, plot, and description. I think I’ve called the character’s grandma something totally different at the end. And in my final scene I decided to give my character a slight quirk that hasn’t been present in the rest of the novel. But I’m going to write it in later!

I’m looking forward to rewriting it and rewriting it again.

It’s like the badly crocheted blanket that I started to make for my first child that I stopped making when it was the size of a tea towel. And like that first blanket it’s much smaller than I expected it would be at 40,000 words. When I began writing this novel back in April 2016, I was aiming for around 70-80,000 words. I thought I was writing a Young Adult novel. But getting to know more about the publishing industry for children and teens, I realised that I’m writing a ‘young’ Young Adult novel or ‘High end’ Middle Grade novel for 13 – 15 year olds and perhaps 40,000 words isn’t so bad after all, I can always add another twenty thousand when rewriting it. And I’m sure I am going to change things and delete a lot of it. Unlike that half-finished blanket, I have got to the end of the first draft and I’m looking forward to rewriting it and rewriting it again.

This year was about finding out how I worked when writing a novel.

All writers know that writing is in the rewriting. It is a work in progress and as I know from previous experience, my process for writing short stories works just like this. I’ll have a vague idea and probably a couple of main characters but I won’t know exactly where they want to go or what they want to do; instead I will know a theme I want to write about. It hasn’t been easy. There have been times when I’ve enjoyed writing the novel such as the time I decided that one of my character’s mum who can’t cook uses a system like BUILD-A BEAR where you chose what you want to eat from the stuff presented to you and you put it all together yourself. But then there have been times I’ve sat down to write and everything that I’ve typed is drivel and makes no sense or does nothing for the story. This year was about finding out how I worked when writing a novel. It’s not pretty and it’s not that organised, but it’s the first time I’m doing it so I’m going to stop beating myself up with a stick.

The group itself has been one of constant comradery and mutual support.

I’ve not written every day, or even every week, or even every month. It’s been sporadic and often tempered with moments of guilt (‘I didn’t hit my 10,000-word target for the month and binge-watched Netflix instead’), self-denial (‘I’ll do some tomorrow morning at 9am sharp when the kids are at school’) and the worst one of all self-doubt (‘I’m a useless writer, I can’t write a good sentence let alone a novel…blah blah woe is me.’). Yet, these moment have been interspersed with great days when you get to attend a Megaphone masterclass with published award winning authors who have been there been and not given up, and whose advice rings in your ears when you feel like you can’t go on. Some of the best advice was ‘allow yourself to write rubbish’ (Lee Weatherly) and Candy Gourlay recently wrote about the first draft being the one where you ‘find the story’ which all helps mightily. It’s not only been the Megaphone masterclasses but the constant support from our mentor Leila who tells people how good we are and props us up when we’re wilting from self-doubt and niggling fears. The group itself has been one of constant comradery and mutual support.  I feel happy to have a body of work to edit and it’s taken a while but I’ve found the story. I’ve written down the bones and now to flesh it out and add the flourishing touches. Megaphone thus far has been brilliant and I’m excited for what’s to come next.

So am I – thank you Tina! 🙂

Megaphone participants’ recent success:

It’s great to start the week with some good news about Megaphone participants – obviously we know they are talented writers who’ll go far, but it’s good to see that being recognised elsewhere too!

Joyce Efia Harmer has been shortlisted to take part in the Penguin Random House taster day #WriteNow- her entry stood out from over a thousand to make the shortlist!

Danielle Jawando was one of the six finalists for the Penguin Random House USA ‘We Need Diverse Books’ short story competition, with her YA story: The Deerstalker. She’ll receive invaluable feedback from a top editor, Phoebe Yeh.

The link to the original competition is here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/58612-a-sneak-peek-at-phoebe-yeh-s-debut-crown-list.html

Danielle has also recently been appointed to a post on Manchester Metropolitan University’s creative writing faculty, and will be presenting a paper at the National Association of Writers in Education’s conference this November in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK.

Congratulations guys!