12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



When Writers Move House

A few months ago our letting agency hiked up the rent on our Edinburgh flat, using some flimsy pretext of ‘current market conditions’ to justify themselves. Heartbroken, Mildly irritated, my poet husband and I set about looking for a cheaper garret to hang our moleskines. Continue reading “When Writers Move House”

On Terry Deary’s Sentimental Gush

ghostbusters_library1Yesterday there was an article about Horrible Histories author Terry Deary on the Guardian books page, in which he was quoted as saying that libraries are effectively past it. I disagree with that view, and wanted to address some of his points. You can read the article here if you haven’t seen it yet. His original comments are in the Sunderland Echo.

Continue reading “On Terry Deary’s Sentimental Gush”

Libraries I Have Known

Today is National Libraries Day 2013, which naturally got me to thinking of libraries I have loved and lost.  It won’t come as any surprise, I suppose, that I wouldn’t be the person I am if it were not for libraries.


Continue reading “Libraries I Have Known”

Apps in Publishing

twitter cross stitch

If you were to do a Twitter search on the word ‘publishing’ you might see that there’s a lot of chat on there at the moment about apps and whether they are the future of the industry.  In March, Forbes said we were at the dawn of the tablet era  which was leading publishers to look at enhanced eBooks and the like.  Fastforward to last weekend, when Vicki Hartley wrote on the Future Bookseller that the death of publishing has been greatly exaggerated, and that apps are here to save it.

Continue reading “Apps in Publishing”

52 Book Covers (+2) – Interview with Aurora Cacciapuoti

Aurora Cacciapuoti is a Sardinian illustrator currently based in Cambridge.  She splits her time between running art workshops and working as a freelance illustrator.  Whilst I was writing 12 books last year (or 1,667 words a day) she was drawing 365 faces (or 1 face a day).  You can see them all on her tumblr page.

This year Aurora has a new project, to create 52+2 book covers. I asked her a few questions about what she finds inspiring about books.

Continue reading “52 Book Covers (+2) – Interview with Aurora Cacciapuoti”

Trenton Lee Stewart Interview

© Shannon Sturgis (

Trenton Lee Stewart is the American author of The Mysterious Benedict Society, which is the sort of book a library assistant might recommend to young persons who like warm humour, adventures, puzzles and fun. I asked him if he would do an interview with me by email, and he said yes.  So here it is.

Can you sum up The Mysterious Benedict Society books for people who haven’t read them?

After passing a series of mysterious tests, a diversely talented group of four children are recruited by a benevolent genius named Mr. Benedict to go on an important mission. The first book is about that mission and the children’s developing relationships; the second and third are continuations of the Society’s adventures.

I read in one interview with you that the editing process for The Mysterious Benedict Society was quite arduous – was it the same for the other books in the series or did it get easier?

Continue reading “Trenton Lee Stewart Interview”

Writing Competition

The Guardian books blog has brought some pretty good things to my attention of late, not least the Mills and Boon New Voices competition.   The winner could well go on to literary stardom, or at least romance publication; and everyone who enters is given feedback on their first chapter – as Alison Flood discovered.

My first thought on reading this was to submit the first chapter of last year’s NaNoWriMo effort, which started life as an affectionate M&B parody.  But it was a short-lived thought, which lasted approximately up until the point where I re-read the thing.  The Single Mum’s Aristocratic Library Assistant has many fine qualities, but it is not stylistically appropriate for this contest.  I have copied and pasted below with a couple of minor edits so you can see what I mean…

Continue reading “Writing Competition”


My life isn’t all about testing new methods of reading, oh no. I have a day job as well, and sometimes I get to forgo my lunch break there in order to attend glitzy media events as part of my freelance journalism career.

I say sometimes, but I actually mean this one time – last Tuesday, as a matter of fact.  The event in question was the official announcement of the shortlisted authors up for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards, organised by the Scottish Book Trust and held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre – which is conveniently just up the road from my current temp job.

The Scottish Book Trust are rather wonderful, I have to say.  They get children in every school across Scotland to vote in these awards, and two of the judges who whittled down the long list to the short were school kids themselves.  Precocious ones, at that – I salute you, Lorna and Daniel, for some spectacularly verbose speechifying.  I can only hope I was that erudite at thirteen (I wasn’t).

Oh, and I have to draw attention to the fact that the other judge, Duncan Wright, was voted school librarian of the year 2010.  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a thing when I was in school, but I love the idea.  I wonder if you can nominate librarians after the fact?  Mine is retired now, but still fabulous.  I shall have to look into that.  School librarian lifetime achievement award in the post for S. Webb…

Anyway, the Scottish Book Trust do all sorts of amazing bits and pieces to get kids reading and to support Scottish authors; so having worked with kids and currently being a writer I feel totally justified in waxing sycophantic about them.  Back in my past life as a library person I was an ambassador for their Bookstart Rhymetime sessions (now called Bookbug), which means I have an extensive repertoire of nursery rhymes available to sing at a moment’s notice, not to mention some pretty sweet moves.  This is clearly one of the best life skills I have, although I still have questions about Peter Rabbit’s curly whiskers.*

I went along to this on behalf of The Edinburgh Reporter, and you can read my article about it here.  It borrows a bit from the press release because as I had to go back to work I couldn’t really hang about getting interviews.  As I said before, the world of freelance journalism is tres glamorous.  But with any luck 12 books will make me a literary star and one day freelance-temps will be re-writing press releases about how I was nominated for this award.

Better go do some writing, then…

*animals like rabbits have whiskers to help them measure spaces so they never get stuck – surely a curly whisker is no use for that?

Still Here!


I haven’t updated in ages, for two reasons.  First of all I wasn’t writing anything for days at a time and I was too embarrassed to tell you.  Well, I was writing loads actually – there was an article about libraries, one about trying to make it as a freelance journo, and one about what it’s like trying to get into theatre directing; as well as assorted posts on my other blogs – but it none of these were my murder mystery novel.

Then last weekend, I wrote so much my hands nearly exploded.  That meant I didn’t really have time to blog, although there was some very mundane tweeting about how many words I had got down.  Between Saturday and Monday I did 23,722 words in order to catch up with my word count target.  Re-reading and editing that lot is going to be interesting…

Anyway, now that chicken sitting duties are over I have gone back to work four days a week, which I hope will help to get me into some semblance of a writing routine.  Assuming I get some suggestions for March’s Western – thus far it has been suggested that the protagonist be called Victor McGlynn, which I rather like, but other characters / plot devices / etc are still wide open.  Feel free to leave a comment below or on the facebook page if you’ve got any further ideas!

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