May Wrap-up: A month in the life of a kidlit editorhttps://i0.wp.com/www.writerandthewolf.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Copy-of-Copy-of-Copy-of-Copy-of-How-to-think-like-your-middle-grade-readers-1.png?fit=1024%2C683&ssl=1 1024 683 Siobhan O'Brien Holmes Siobhan O'Brien Holmes https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ba3674976788a4e771f9a93e14b42805?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Life and work
I just got back from a long bank holiday weekend in Devon and it was totally lovely. Not relaxing, obviously, since I have a five year old but it was super fun and just nice to be somewhere different – especially after having Covid earlier this month and not being able to leave the house. We stayed in a little cottage near the sea and spent lots of time walking, making sandcastles, doing treasure hunts, going on rollercoasters (Caeden and Steve, not me) and eating scones in the scorching sun.
I came home to a bursting inbox including a lovely email from a favourite author I’d just completed a Monster Critique for (💙) and a few new enquiries. I’ve got a busy couple of months coming up edit-wise and then it’s the school summer holidays, so I’ll be packing Caeden off to a few summer clubs and swimming lessons so I can get some work done! Then he’ll be going into year one at school in September which I can’t cope with 😭
I was really sad to miss ChillerCon this year but life got in the way. I did, however, make it there in spirit with a ‘starter guide to kidlit’ brochure in the goody bags and a shiny new advert in the souvenir programmes! While everybody was having fun rubbing shoulders with scary book industry folk, I popped over to MCM Comic Con in London with Caeden and Steve and had a blast. It was my first time there in years and I had so much fun checking out authors’ and artists’ incredible comics and choosing my favourite costumes. Caeden spent most of his time playing Sonic on the Mega Drive but I managed to listen to a couple of talks including one on being neurodiverse in the world of online content creation.
Currently working on
- I *just* delivered a Cub Report this morning on a gorgeous, warm and funny middle grade about music and finding your voice and have already had a super nice email back from the author. I just love working with lovely, talented people every day! 🤩
- I’m working on a Monster Critique of a fascinating animal-filled middle grade fantasy
- Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand | YA horror / dark fantasy (it’s so good and creepy!)
MG and YA novels I read
As awful as Covid was, it did help me get into audiobooks which I’ve struggled with in the past. I was too sick and had too much of a headache to read a physical book but was spending a lot of time in bed and getting, frankly, bored out of my mind. So I gave audiobooks a go and all of a sudden they just clicked for me. I’ve discovered that I need the audio speed at around 1.2x and the narrator has to be really good.
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass | YA horror (I loved this so much, and the two audiobook narrators were fabulous)
Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.
Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare | YA horror (this too!)
Quinn Maybrook and her father have moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs, to find a fresh start. But what they don’t know is that ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half.
On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.
Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.
Craft books I read this month
I’ve been dipping into The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture by Gail Carriger which is a fascinating look at story structure and literary tropes.
Added to my TBR
- Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances by Lisa Morton
- Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders
- Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White
Books I bought or received
Just the complete set of Billy and the Mini Monsters books by Zanna Davidson for my son as a prize for getting 100 stickers on his reward chart!
Films and TV I watched
- Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls (so fabulous and inspiring)
- James Acaster’s Repertoire (again!)
- Dead Pixels (hilarious!)
- Workin’ Moms
- The Great British Sewing Bee
- The Midwich Cuckoos
- One of Us is Lying
Blog posts I published
Articles and newsletters I liked that you might like too
Andrew Joseph White: On Finding Hope Through Horror | Writer’s Digest
The Difference Between Relatable and Mediocre Heroes | Mythcreants
Every Day is Halloween newsletter | Lisa Morton
Lisa talks about one of her early short stories, ‘Sparks Fly Upward’ – a zombie story about a woman’s right to choose – and how it’s been more profitable for her than any of her novels. She’s made the story free to read online because, given its subject matter, it’s sadly more relevant than ever.
She gives tips for authors doing live readings, including ‘If there are important plot points that listeners need to know before hearing your excerpt, write a small synopsis to be read before the excerpt.’
The Hot Sheet newsletter | Jane Friedman
In the UK in 2021, ebook sales fell to their lowest point in 9 years
By the end of May, BookTok authors made up four of the top 10 bestseller spots in the US print book chart
Middle grade graphic novels are big in the US right now
What did you read this month? Please give me your recommendations so I can add to my toppling TBR pile.
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Siobhan O'Brien Holmes is a developmental editor working with middle grade and YA authors. She specialises in speculative and genre fiction, particularly horror, fantasy, mystery, sci-fi and anything with a dash of magic or macabre. She is a member of the SfEP, EFA, ACES, British Fantasy Society, Horror Writers Association and SCBWI. She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children's Literature.All stories by: Siobhan O'Brien Holmes