[UCLPUB2015] Week 9

UCLPUB2015 XMAS

Welcome to my new blog series – UCLPUB2015! Every Sunday I’ll be posting a roundup of my week as a student on the UCL MA Publishing course, talking about my experiences and passing along any handy tips I pick up along the way. I’m so excited to share my journey with you and hope that maybe these posts will help other aspiring publishers too!

Week 9: 30th Nov – 4th Dec

I have been absolutely dying to finally use my December graphic for this series! The term is almost over with only two weeks left until the Christmas break (WHAT). I have an essay due on the final day of term and plenty of homework to squeeze in between now and then. The topic is pretty open; we can choose between four essay titles and the last option is almost a ‘write your own question’ type. I’ve liberated the necessary books from the library and looks like tomorrow it’s time to get started!

This week we sent out a call for submissions to find writers who want to accompany our confirmed illustrators for The Arcanum. We’ve had such an overwhelmingly positive response and we could not be more excited about this project! We have lots of talented and creative people involved and are always open to hearing from more – if you’re an author or illustrator willing to contribute to a YA collection of mythology, legends and fairytales then please get in touch! We have a small number of pre-set myths that we’re specifically commissioning artwork and stories for, but we’re also looking for myths from all over the world.

Call for Authors.pngAll the details can be found over at our blog: thearcanumbook.wordpress.com

Asimpsons-fires part of our Publishing Skills class, our group also filmed a vlog to be uploaded onto the course YouTube channel. Our only brief was that it had to be part of our scifi theme (other groups were given themes like YA, crime, cookbooks etc) so we decided to have a go at creating our own tag. None of us felt like acting on camera and I found it much more comfortable to just be myself and enjoy filming! I’m not sure when it’ll be uploaded but rest assured that if it’s as horrifically embarrassing as I think it will be, then I will never mention it again (but seriously, it’ll be fine right?).

In Author Management we looked at the relationship between authors and their literary agents, paying specific attention to the contract an author can expect to sign as part of an agency. In the afternoon, we had a lecture on the effects of globalisation on the publishing industry and whether it’s necessarily a bad thing (spoiler: I still think it is). We talked about the importance of translation in the publishing industry and tried to address why the UK publishes such an embarrassing number of translated works every year.

My thoughts were that our lack of diversity in books available stems from the lack of diversity in the people we employ. It’s no secret that the publishing industry here is dominated by white women who are increasingly being told that they don’t need another language to work in this industry. English-speaking Editors aren’t commissioning any translated works because they simply can’t or won’t read them in the first place. I’ve sent countless brilliant books to publishers overseas for translation whilst on my internship, but we just don’t return the favour. By not exploring authors writing in their first language we’re missing out on not only a lot of amazing books, but also the opportunity to grow and learn.

Charlotte x

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[UCLPUB2015] Week 5

UCLPUB2015 AUTUMN

Welcome to my new blog series – UCLPUB2015! Every Sunday I’ll be posting a roundup of my week as a student on the UCL MA Publishing course, talking about my experiences and passing along any handy tips I pick up along the way. I’m so excited to share my journey with you and hope that maybe these posts will help other aspiring publishers too!

Week 5: 2nd Nov – 6th Nov

It is well and truly autumn and the weather is becoming more miserable by the day in London. I’ll be moving on to my winter banner in no time! Somehow we’ve hit the quarter-way mark in the taught portion of the course, and that thought is absolutely terrifying. I feel like I still have so much to learn and we have so much time left, but in reality we’re almost done with the first term!

Tuesday was a little more stressful than usual, with a morning class on finance and accounting that took me by surprise! Our guest speaker was brilliantly funny but, as a hopeless maths student, I couldn’t help but feel like I was drowning in numbers and unfamiliar phrases by the end of our three hour slot. I will definitely have to go over my notes a few times before we revisit costings for our project! (Again, how did I end up as the treasurer?!)

In the afternoon we had our Publishing Project pitch. We were the last group so had plenty of time to practice while we stuck around on campus, prepping our presentation on our two ideas for publication. One of our lecturers seemed really into our mythology collection and, while we haven’t had any confirmations yet, it looks like we might end up with the project that the majority of the team really love. Even so, which ever project we’re assigned will have an open submissions period for YA short stories, so if you’d like to get involved make sure you keep an eye open for our announcement!

Thursday followed on nicely with a catch up on finances in Author Management before moving on to discuss copyright law with Richard Mollet, CEO of The Publishers Association. Richard was a fantastic speaker and I definitely feel like I have a good grasp of copyright now, especially with my internship in a Rights department. Theories of the Book was a lot of fun, holding a debate on the author based on our Foucault and Barthes readings and casting our minds forwards to think about publishing in the 22nd century (all glory to the robot overlords).

Next week is reading week so I will likely be frantically catching up with all the work we’ve been set for the course. Our first formal assessment is due on 13th Nov and usually at this point I would be blaming my human tendency to procrastinate for the rush (hey, we all spend too much time watching cat videos sometimes), but this time it’s purely down to how busy I’ve been. With uni two days a week, an internship three days a week, two jobs and a blog, I am definitely looking forward to a couple of days off!

Charlotte x

[REVIEW] Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley

21393526Summary
Characters – 3/5
Plot – 4/5
Style – 4/5
World building – 3/5
Overall – 3/5

Quote
“I’m dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can’t even shine a light on it. I feel like I’m mostly made of mysteries.”

Review
Aza Ray has been drowning in thin air since she was one year old, kept alive on experimental drugs and countless trips to the hospital. Her condition is so rare that it’s been named after her – she’s the only one to ever be diagnosed. When she begins to hallucinate giant ships in the sky and hundreds of birds following her a few days before her 16th birthday everyone puts it down to her medication, and then she disappears.

MAGONIA is an exciting story that bridges the gap between young adult contemporary and fantasy. Whisked up into the sky, Aza discovers a fascinating new world of flying ships, pirates and magic. She can breathe, she can sing, but she can never return home to Earth. The story alternates between Aza’s new life in Magonia and her best friend, Jason, desperately trying to find a way back to her.

I have to give credit here for an exceptionally original and exciting plot. Magonia is a brilliantly unique world of mythology, politics and magic, somehow feeling possible and fairytale all at the same time. Based on 8th century folklore, Aza’s new world brings to life the original UFO story, anchors falling from the sky, sailors drowning in the air and crops mysteriously disappearing. The plot of MAGONIA was something entirely fresh and ever-changing, fast paced with an explosive conclusion.

Whilst we don’t get to experience much of the physical world of Magonia, limited mostly to the ship Aza joins, the culture she experiences whilst aboard is rich and well thought-out. There are norms unique to the pirates of the ship and certain rites and rituals that must be respected. Aza must learn to earn her position rather than strut straight to the top – she might be a bit of a special snowflake but she’s got to work first.

I got on well with Maria’s writing style and thought her occasional poetic touches were perfect – words falling down the page in shapes and spirals, using empty brackets to show the words that best remain unspoken. The relationship between Aza and Jason was well crafted and felt quite realistic, but the inclusion of a love triangle irritated me.

I feel like a lot of YA novels feel the need to add some kind of love complication as an attempt at a side-plot, when in reality it just ruins the story more often than not. Well done romance is certainly a welcome addition to a story – Aza and Jason were definitely headed in the right direction – but throwing in a second love interest often just doesn’t fit with the personality and direction of the protagonist. Aza is loyal, thick-skinned, sarcastic and biting, and Jason has tried for 10 years to make her go weak at the knees. I just don’t see this Romeo and Juliet kind of relationship with another guy even crossing her mind. I completely appreciate the parallels Maria was trying to draw here with Aza’s loyalties now split between two completely different worlds, but her jellylegs for someone she just met seemed disingenuous to her true character.

Whilst overall I really enjoyed MAGONIA, there was a little something lacking that I just couldn’t quite put my finger on. It niggled at me the whole way through and I wasn’t sure whether it was in the storytelling, the characters or something else entirely. This little something bothered me and I wish I could have let it go to fully immerse myself in the story.

Regardless, I’m definitely interested to see how Aza’s story pans out in the planned sequel as I’m expecting some serious repercussions and drama based on the final chapters of MAGONIA. A completely original story with an exciting plot, I’m absolutely looking forward to reading more from Maria Dahvana Headley.

[REVIEW] Everneath – Brodi Ashton

everneathSummary
Characters – 4/5
Plot – 3/5
Style – 4/5
World Building – 3/5
Overall – 4/5

Quote

“Stay with me, Becks. Dream of me. I am ever your’s.”

Review
When Nikki Beckett suddenly disappeared six months ago she left her world in a state of turmoil. Her friends and family have no idea where she’s been and they wouldn’t believe her even if she told them. Taken to the Everneath, Nikki has been entwined with immortal Cole as he fed on her energy. Now she has six months left to say her final goodbyes and find forgiveness before she disappears again. This time for good.

The thing that initially drew me to this book was the plot; I love Greek mythology and the promise of a modernised Persephone myth caught my attention. It worked nicely on the whole but there are a few unanswered questions and holes once you start to dig deeper into the Everneath (the Underworld) and the premise of the Everlivings’ feeding process. Some of these are answered in the sequel, some I’m still a little confused about.

Nikki, Cole and Jack are all nicely rounded with multi-faceted personalities and motives but some of the supporting characters like Jules and Nikki’s dad felt a little flat. Ashton’s emotional style gave Nikki a really raw and honest voice which I appreciated, it suited the plot very well.

Although there is a love triangle between Nikki, Cole and her ex-boyfriend, I felt it was well explained/justified and didn’t make me want to roll my eyes like most YA romances. Nikki doesn’t tend to flit between the two boys or try to play them against each other; she’s set on what she wants to achieve with her time on the Surface and has a firm approach to it. A breath of fresh air in a genre overcrowded with indecisive and immature teases.

I have to say that I did feel like I was always one step ahead of Nikki and I definitely figured out the ending well before it happened. That could be down to my previous knowledge of the mythology Ashton drew from, but it didn’t make the book any less enjoyable in the slightest!

The organisation of the novel was clear and the non-chronological timeline kept it interesting. A combination of the present day and pre-disappearance memories, each chapter is marked with exactly how long Nikki has left on the Surface or how long until she disappears. I liked this jumping timeline as it filled in the gaps slowly, revealing the full picture of Nikki’s situation and why she chose to leave with Cole piece by piece.

EVERTRUE, the final installment in the trilogy, will be released on 21st January 2014.