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Calendar of upcoming events

11th November: #WMChat with Elle McNicoll
25th November: #WMChat with Amy McCaw
1st December: WriteMentor Children's Novel and Picture Book Awards open
9th December: #WMChat with Lauren James
4th January: Maz Evans (MG) and Lauren James (YA) course start dates
4th January: WriteMentor Community Learning Hub opens
31st January: WriteMentor Children's Novel and Picture Book Awards close

Success Stories

Congratulations to 2018 mentee Amy McCaw, who had her cover reveal on Saturday! 🎉 

Mina is staying with her sister in New Orleans for Fang Fest 1995. She’s thrilled to land a job in a horror movie mansion, reconnecting with her sister while they scare the tourists. When Mina stumbles upon a body at work, she’s dragged into a murder investigation. Someone is replicating New Orleans’ darkest myths, and Mina must discover the truth before she becomes the latest victim.

WriteMentor Community Learning Hub

We have exciting news for all of you!

Starting from the 4th January, we’re launching our brand new WriteMentor Community Learning Hub, which is a monthly subscription course/community/learning platform and it comes with so many benefits, both in the short and long term for your writing.

Read more here.

Online Courses

We have a new page for all our online courses! 

We hope it's much easier to navigate now. Read below to see how you can be the very first to sign up for newly published courses.
12 week courses with Lauren James (YA)
 
Places are available on a first come, first serve basis, so sign up now (by paying a £60 deposit) to secure your place for January 2021. Be quick, we sold out quickly last time.

The groups are smaller this time, to give you and your manuscript even more attention!

And remember, as well as incredible tutoring, feedback and insight from Lauren, we also offer feedback on your submission package from a top agent - click on the links above to find out more!

There will also be 1 scholarship place on both courses - look out for details on how to apply, coming soon.

Start date: 4th January 2021

Other Opportunities

Spark Mentoring

Spark Mentoring is always available if you need extra help or support each month. We have made the Spark mentoring package even better by including access to our 12 month novel course and the self-editing course with Kesia Lupo for all Spark mentees - do contact me if you wish to access either of these and are a current spark mentee. If you wish to sign, hit the link above for all the details.


 
We have introduced a couple of new mentors in recent months to give those signing up, a wider range of authors to choose from and increase likelihood of compatibility. All their profiles can be found on the website.
We welcome Melinda Salisbury, Yasmin Rahman, Alex Sheppard and Aisha Bushby.
All our mentors would be delighted to work with you!

Spark mentor Emma Read has offered to give ongoing free critiques to BAME writers - one free package per month of synopsis and 1st page.
Sign up here and she will work through the list, at a rate of 1 a month, so the quicker you sign up, the quicker you'll get some feedback.
https://forms.gle/g9fWLovv7oGxozYV9
The latest edition of the magazine was released on 7th August!

FEATURING:
Kit de Waal | Joseph Elliott | Emma Perry | Marisa Noelle | Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez | Jasmine Richards | J.R. Ford | Ian Johnson | Fiona Barker | Anna Moutran | The Honest Writer

Find out about...writing Young Adult fiction...publishing your first novel...life as a literary agent...representation in publishing...writing picture books...self-publishing...overcoming writer's block...plus read competition-winning short stories and flash fiction, and our celebration corner - featuring you!

Final word from ...

Why is there a need for more own-voice neurodivergent
representation in KidLit?

By Louise Gooding

 

I am a neurodivergent person. 

But what does that actually mean?

It means that my brain is wired a little differently, my cognitive function varies from the norm.

There are many different types of neurodivergent; ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dyslexia, Tourette’s, dyscalculia, dyspraxia.

A non neurodivergent person is known as neurotypical.

The broader term of ‘neurodiversity’ covers both neurodivergent and neurotypical.

 

Now I’ve given you that brief lesson, we’ll go back to why I am here.

 

As a kid, I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with having ADHD (I only received my diagnosis in adulthood), I was annoying, loud, in your face, over friendly, over enthusiastic and apparently just ‘too much’. 

I was also the sort of person that would drop anything and everything at a seconds notice to help another, and extremely creative and imaginative. 

Teacher’s would say; “Louise would be a great student if only she would just concentrate. She has the intelligence, she has the abilities but….” - there was always a but.

 

It’s an awful place for a kid to be, to think they are an ‘oddball’ or the ‘weirdo’. 

To know that while you may be seen as a lot of fun, making friends was hard; people still judged you and were wary of your behaviour.

There were no role models. I didn’t know where to go to find people like me. And if I did find a character I could relate to, it was always the negative and least favourable characteristics of my behaviour that were being highlighted, so we all could have a good laugh.

 

Even as an adult, I face this challenge.

I was recently told that someone, who after reading the Horrid Henry books, had assumed the character had ADHD so had chosen to use these books to discuss ADHD with their kids.

 

Now, whilst the Horrid Henry books can be a lot of fun, a mischievous young lad full of trouble, why do we assume he has ADHD and why do we assume this is a correct representation?

Where is the fairness in that, and how, upon hearing things like this, would a child with ADHD feel? 

Henry is horrid, and so I must be too.

 

If we want books to discuss topics such a neurodiversity, disability and diversity as a whole, don’t we want these stories to truely reflect the lives and stories of those who live every day with these experiences, issues and knowledge? 

 

There are many great authors who are writing amazing stories about their neurodivergent experience but neurodiversity can be a bit of a challenge. There is no one experience, there is no guidebook for how a neurodivergent person is, or how they behave. And this is where the dangers of including negative tropes, when writing a neurodivergent character, come in. It’s easy to highlight and/or be able recognise the most obvious neurodivergent behaviours, but that, in my opinion, is lazy. 

 

A lot of neurodivergent people use masking to hide behaviours that are ‘less socially acceptable’, it is especially common within females. 

This makes it extremely difficult to notice when someone is maybe struggling. 

The exterior character may be one representation of a person, albeit maybe a little quirky, and the interior person, a hot mess. 

This is something addressed, and delicately acknowledged by own voice authors who understand the ins and outs, the big things and little things, which affect the every day lives of a neurodivergent person.

 

Recently, author Elle McNicoll, a neurodivergent writer herself, gave us A Kind Of Spark. It’s brilliantly written and avoids the harmful and repetitive stereotypes which can often appear in stories that feature autistic characters. 

By using her own voice and experiences she was able to create a character who was convincing and real, and hopefully highly relatable to other readers on the autistic spectrum without causing any harm.

 

This is what we need. 

Not just to be able to find characters that look like us, or act like us.

But realistic characters who ultimately give kids the chance to see themselves in positive roles, to be told they are great and awesome as they are. 

Avoiding any negative tropes and stereotypes which could have a lasting affects on the mental health of children who may already be battling with low self esteem.

 

Does that mean I am calling for neurotypical authors to stop writing our stories? Absolutely not. But please, do intensive research. 

If you are writing a story that features a neurodivergent person, your research should be handled with a lot of care and attention, as with all stories that feature diverse characters. 

Talk to people, get to know the neurodivergent community, and consider a sensitivity read. 

Groups like Inclusive Minds are a great source of help when it comes to checking whether or not your work is a fair representation of the group you are writing for and about. https://www.inclusiveminds.com

 

If you feel you would like some more information on where to start including neurodivergent characters in your your stories, a friend of mine, Halli Gomez is offering a SCBWI workshop on The How and Why of Writing Neurodiverse Characters: https://britishisles.scbwi.org/events/central-east-the-how-and-why-of-writing-neurodivergent-characters/?fbclid=IwAR0fU5QylSlA4uU4plOMDMKoZNCRv-7flGE8xV2h_63xQ_eWuDotvBiUOR0

 

Louise Gooding is an English author living in Switzerland represented by Chloe Seager of Madeleine Milburn Agency

Her debut book, Just Like Me, will be published by Studio Press, March 2021. A collection of forty stories, about neurodiverse and disabled individuals from around the world. Each who have defied other people's expectations and challenged stereotypes! From Scientists to Gymnasts, TV Personalities to Business men and women.

Avaialble to preorder from all book sellers.

 

@onceuponalouise on Twitter

www.louisegooding.com

 

Louise is also one of the founding members of The Disabled Creatives Universe, a mentor program to help lift disabled and neurodivergent voices in the publishing industry. 

For more information on this program please head to @disabledmentors on Twitter. A website is coming soon!

Do YOU want to be the star of this newsletter?

Do YOU want to have the final word?

Here is your chance to do just that, telling more than 2000 writers your story! 

We want to make the newsletter less about us, and more about you, and so from now on, we will feature a piece from one of YOU, ever fortnight, in this space! 

Don't worry, you don't need to be published, agented, or even finished your book! You don't have to be a writer even, as long as you have something to say about writing or the publishing industry.

We are not sure how much response this might get, so if you are interested in being the feature of the newsletter, simply fill in this form, and we will email you with instructions on what/how to send us your feature.
 
 

We are VERY open to the content - it can be a personal story of your writing journey, it can be about something you're passionate about, within the kidlit publishing industry and community. It can be advice, or something you've learned, it can be an excerpt from your WIP.

As I say, we can't guarantee we'll be able to feature everyone, depending on the response, but we'd love to.

I also think of you and our community with all we do, and this is another thing we can do to help give some of you a wee boost!

Writing can be lonely, but it doesn't need to be.

May the Force be with you!

Stuart
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