Caroline A Raine

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 7 Edward Beaton and the Star in the Glass a week along...

And so - just a week ago - 500 hopeful writers found out that they were in the quarter finals of the 2011 ABNA writing contest. 250 of us are writers of Young Adult Fiction. One of my reviews (see bottom of this blog page) mentioned that they thought my book was aimed more at the age group 8-10. I seriously would question this. I have been teaching children ages 5 - 18 in various subjects for the past 16 years and I am quite sure that the age group 8 - 9 years would be hard pressed to read the traditional children's novel.  I would love to read any findings which document how many childrens under the age of 10 have actually read "Harry Potter" books. They may have bought copies, have had them read to as Read Alouds, seen the movies, waited until they were old enough to start reading their copies.... Just wondering - and would be really interested to read those stats - something I'm going to look up if possible this weekend.

My daughter Lily, is 9 years old and a fairly average reader for her age. I could not imagine her sitting down at this age,  to a 60 000+ word novel. I am just curious what constitutes a Young Adult Fiction - Vocabulary, and font size, subject and sustained story length... of course. I hesitate to age categorise books because children's tastes and reading interests and abilities vary as much as adults do. Just thinking about books such as The Book Thief and some of Alice Hoffman's books which are pitched as Young Adult Fiction, but which enjoy a huge adult following. Not sure what the solution is, but just think that tight age categorisation outside of graded reading systems is counter-productive ?

Anyway - my school reports are all done and dusted and the holiday begins tomorrow. Yippee!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 6 Of Shaun Tan and Mondays

Missed a day - nearing the end of the school term and madly getting marking and reports done by tomorrow. But by this time tomorrow it will all be done and dusted and I will be staring at a welcome holiday in the face. Many, many links and reads on the ABNA discussion boards about good and bad reviews and swapping excerpts. I must admit to having had no time to do more than day dream about the "what if" of getting through to the next round of the ABNA contest. Imagine being in the Top 50!!!! What a privilege and affirmation that would be. Publishers Weekly professional reviewers will be reading and appraising works.

BUT the highlight of the day has been to read that Shaun Tan has won the Lingdren award for 2011. Isn't that FANTASTIC! I have been a fan of his works for ages now.

His web page is brilliant too: Shaun Tan
The originality and complexity of his picture books have provided me with many many lesson ideas:

The Rabbits
The Red Tree
The Viewer

Anyway - back to marking Grade 7 Essays entitled "Monday's Child".

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Visual Fantasy

One of the most inspiring and creative finds which took me SO much by surprise in 2010 was The Black Heart Gang that visually create a mind-blowing collage of images. What incredible talent! Loose yourself for a while and take an amble through their web site.

Day 4 Fairy Tales and Fantasy

I am so excited about the prospect of the new movie Little Red Riding Hood coming out this March. I know that as a South African, I should be writing about and embracing all things local and lekker, but my heart and soul are in the fantasy world and the sort of euro-centric fantasy that I grew up with - saturated in and which captured my imagination right from the start. It was the real escape from all things immediate. Having worked with young adults, teens and little children for the past 20 years, I can honestly say that children are still drawn into fantasy and crave the huge array of Fantasy Genres that are fed to us from around the world. So while our local publishing houses endeavour to support and promote local and obviously African themes, and I accept that there is almost no place for Children's Fantasy of the Euro-Centric kind in our South African publishing houses, I know that this is the VERY book that our local children are reading... and can't get enough of.

 So our school kids will continue to buy and voraciously read American and European fiction while our local publishers continue to seek out local themes and exist - the way I see it - to support and promote local writers of local content. Am I wrong? I just wish we had a happy balance and writers of a variety of genres could happily co-exist in SA.  If only economies didn't play a part in the enormous world of publishing and writing...

My offering to the world is very much 'of me' - which means that it boldly and unashamedly embraces the fantasy genre, but it also can't but help express the South African I am at heart... in the end, the local in me found it's way into my writing...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 3

I would love the luxury of a Good Edit. Self Publishing is a bold move which many brave and noble writers make. It's greatest pitfall is the fact that self-published works have not had the benefit of a completely objective, critical read and the offering of some sound editorial advice. So our works go out into the world looking for readers and publishers in their naked innocence. I think that writing competitions are a brilliant way to encourage people to write and really are a painless way for publishing houses to take in a bunch of manuscripts during a season and focus their editorial staff in an intensive Next-Best-Seller Hunt.

Apart from ABNA one of the best Competition Writing opportunities lies in the Chicken House . Feel free to add your best Writing Competition Links below.

The other option is to send you manuscript out at Book Fairs such as London Book Fair ,  Cape Town Book Fair ,   Frankfurt Book Fair with an agent who may have a book stand.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 2

"Sara had told me that a woman who could rescue herself was a woman who would never be in need." Alice Hoffman - The Red Garden   So this is Friday and I am looking forward to the weekend. There is a crisp cool breeze and the sun angle has changed - we are at the end of Summer at last it seems.

 I got frustrated today because I encountered the problem to do with not being able to find my new Blog and apparently there are all sorts of things about registering domain and URL's and such, and I am too tired to do that kind of research today. I did find Edward Beaton and the Star in the Glass popping up on someone else's Blog with an annoyingly biting and unofficial and unasked for Review. So that was a bit draining. Ugh! Criticising the fact that the book needs editing having read only the first page ... and being Self Published. Well - yes: Self Published works have not had the luxury of a team of editors and advisors. This being the obvious downside and risk involved in going it alone.

BUT I have been floating around since becoming a Quarter Finalist and holding my head up high and finally thinking of myself as A Writer. I like that narrative of myself. Yes I am a Writer.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Edward Beaton and the Star in the Glass

Day 1. 

We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.
- Louisa May Alcott this story that was growing inside me since I was about 16 years old, finally got written. I stumbled upon the Chicken House Competition 2 years ago. In all my innocence I sat down and started my book. I wrote furiously for three months. I have edited it a few times over now switching between a Euro-centric and African ethic.... "Edward Beaton and the Star in the Glass" has not found a home in any local South African publishing house. It is after all modelled on traditional fantasy genres. Then, I stumbled upon the self-publishing concept through and so rather than have the manuscript gather foxing effects, I submitted it. Then rather temptingly the ABNA  competition popped up and I thought "why not?" submitted it and got on with my life, and making fudge, and planting Sweet Peas and fields of Basil in my back garden. Then I was alerted to the fact that I had made it through to the quarter final and am one of 250 Hopefuls looking to make it into the semi-finals. 

I have a month to wait, to find out whether or not Edward Beaton and the Star in the Glass has met with empathetic reading eyes and connected with a judge or two who recognise its authenticity. So this is a "Diary of a Children's Fantasy Novel Waiting For An Audience Of Divine Young Readers".