Book of the Week – 17


Hello gentle reader,

this week I’m reading a YA Historical Mystery/Fantasy. The Ruby In The Smoke (A Sally Lockhart Mystery) was written by UK author Philip Pullman. It is the first book in a quartet published between 1985 and 2004. Set in Victorian London, this series follows sixteen-year-old Sally as she investigates her father’s death and uncovers secrets that threaten her very life.

From Goodreads:

“Sally is sixteen and uncommonly pretty. Her knowledge of English literature, French, history, art and music is non-existent, but she has a thorough grounding in military tactics, can run a business, ride like a Cossack and shoot straight with a pistol.

When her dear father is drowned in suspicious circumstances in the South China Sea, Sally is left to fend for herself, an orphan and alone in the smoky fog of Victorian London. Though she doesn’t know it, Sally is already in terrible danger. Soon the mystery and the danger will deepen – and at the rotten heart of it all lies the deadly secret of the ruby in the smoke…”

What are you reading this week?

YA Epic Fantasy

What’s on my bookshelf ? 6

Are you looking for Epic Fantasy novels that are suitable for Young Adult readers? Here are a few that I enjoyed reading…

So, on my bookshelf, you can find:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”... and the most famous YA Epic Fantasy book came to life in 1937.

The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams China

Han is a reformed thief in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Raisa is the princess heir of the Fells. In the Seven Realms, clans and wizards are about to start a war. That’s when the lives of Han and Raisa collide…

The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper

An immortal boy, six medallions created and hidden centuries ago, a Rider intent on gathering them and raising the Dark… an awesome read!

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.” Philip Pullman, in his Carnegie Medal Acceptance Speech (1996). Such a complex, beautiful book, for all ages.

That’s it for today… I have many other YA Epic Fantasy stories sitting on my bookshelf but they’ll have to be included in another post…

Any other books you’d recommend? Feel free to comment!

A guide to attending international book fairs for would-be-published writers – The London Book Fair 2012

Next Monday I am going to attend the London Book Fair 2012. It will be held at Earls Court, London from the 16th – 18th April. I went there last year during two days and I had a great time, which is why I’m going again this year.

According to its own website, the London Book Fair has been “the global market place and leading business-2-business exhibition for rights negotiation and the sales and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels for 41 years. With over 400 seminars and events, 1,500 international exhibiting companies and 24,500 publishing professionals, The London Book Fair encompasses the broad spectrum of the publishing industry.”

So the question is: is it at all worth it, for a would-be-published writer, to attend such a fair? My answer is yes, IF you are realistic about your expectations.

What won’t happen at the London Book Fair

If you are, like me, a would-be-published author, you shouldn’t go to a book fair (whether in London, New York City or Frankfurt) hoping to get noticed by an agent or a publisher. To me, this is not the place to get your foot in the door by walking up to agents or publishers and dumping your awesome manuscript in their lap.

Agents and publishers who attend those book fairs do so to meet business partners that they already have, not to meet new ones. Unless you were actually given a meeting time by an agent or a publisher at the fair, don’t expect to be able to sit down with them and to pitch them your best-seller in the making. They don’t have time for newcomers who haven’t previously been introduced to them. Even if you “only” want to talk with a specific agent, chances are he is fully booked with meetings with different publishers and book buyers anyway.

If you want to talk to agents and editors, my advice is to attend writers’ conventions/conferences. The agents and editors who attend those are actually expecting to talk to authors.

So should you just give up and not go to the London Book Fair? No. Because here is what will happen there

If you are a would-be-published writer, going to the London Book Fair is still worth the trip for three reasons.

1-      You can attend seminars and workshops and learn A LOT about how the publishing business works. Last year I attended a How To Get Published Masterclass, numerous seminars on the state of the publishing industry and its (digital) future, as well as a few authors/publishers panels. And it was enlightening on many levels. Among others, I got to listen to words of advice from Philip Pullman (best-selling author of children’s fantasy novels, His Dark Material) and Sarah Odedina, the former Bloomsbury Group editor-in-chief who has published all of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Talking about people who know their stuff.

2-      You get to have an insight into future publishing trends. It can be a good way to find out whether this great book you’ve been working on is in sync with what those decision-making people actually want to buy/publish.

3-      You meet other would-be-published writers. To paraphrase Kristen Lamb, you are not alone. Other unpublished authors go to those fairs and unlike agents and publishers, they are interested in talking with you. And it’s great to meet and exchange with other writers who are on the exact same “I want to be a writer!” roller-coaster ride you’re currently on. The book fair is the time to connect and make friends.

So what do you think? Are you going to attend the London Book Fair?

To wrap this up (yeah if you’ve read the whole thing!), a few noteworthy websites:

The London Book Fair

Book Expo America

The Frankfurt Book Fair

Absolute Write Forum (on going to the London Book fair)

Kristen Lamb’s hilarious account of her personal first book fair disaster