Thursday, 27 February 2020

The MG Sci-Fi void.

I’m currently pitching a Sci-Fi kid’s novel to agents, so I headed over to my local branch of Waterstones in order to try to identify comparison titles. (Similar books that I can reference in my covering letter to give prospective agents an idea of where on the shelves my story would fit.)

This particular book of mine is aimed at the 10+ market, the same market as Red Rock. It’s quite sciency but not science heavy and I’ve made sure that the science in it is accessible. It’s probably best described as a Girls in STEM story.

So I started searching in the 9-12 age section for similar types of books – and you know what – nothing. I couldn’t find a single book even remotely sciency or Sci-Fi! Nothing! Diddly-squat!!!

So I came home and searched on Amazon. I found a couple but nothing that would really work as a comparison title!

I did the same for YA and guess what? Yup. Apart from the hangovers from the Dystopia boom a while back – and yes, Dystopia is a type of Sci-Fi – but my book isn’t a dystopia, so they weren’t a good match either.

It’s puzzling. There’s a huge drive to encourage STEM subjects at school, and particularly to encourage girls into STEM – it’s nothing new – it’s been going on for a while – so why isn’t this being reflected in kid’s literature?

Then, yesterday I spotted an agent commenting on this very thing. Her inbox was full of YA Sci-Fi – which suggested to her that there were plenty of readers and writers of the genre out there - but editors simply don’t want to buy it.

Clearly there’s a mismatch here. There could be many reasons for it, but as a humble writer rather than an industry insider I wouldn’t know.

All I can say is it doesn’t bode well for the story I’m pitching. Or for my current WIP which has a definite YA feel to it – Maybe I’d be better off pitching it as Adult instead!

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Twitter Pitch Contests

Every so often twitter fills up with people pitching their novels in twitter pitch contests. I watch these with interest and sometimes take part. There are a whole raft of contests that run, the main one being #PitMAD but others like #SFFPit and #DivPit crop up at regular intervals.

Over the course of following several of these contests I have made a few observations which I thought I would share with you on the pros and cons of these types of event.


1. Distilling the essence of your story into a single tweet is a really good exercise. It makes you think about what your novel is really about and what makes it unique.

2. Looking at the pitches that get a lot of love can help your develop your own pitch, and it’s useful to be able to pitch your book in a single sentence. You never know when that might come in handy.

3. You get a sense of what is popular, both within the US market and in what people are writing. This can fluctuate a lot as the market changes but seeing what’s popular gives an idea of what’s hot right now.

4. I’d never really thought about comparison titles before, but again, it’s a good thing to think about. Where does your book fit with the market? Where do you see it on the bookstore shelves?

5. There’s a lot of camaraderie among participating authors, retweeting the pitches that catch their eye. If you want to connect with other authors on twitter this is a good opportunity.

6. Going to an agent’s profile and looking at what sort of pitches they’ve liked gives you a good idea of what they are looking for. If they’re liking stuff similar to yours it’s probably worth submitting to them, even if they haven’t liked your particular pitch – they could quite simply have missed it in all the noise.


1. The feed is public and there’s nothing to stop people picking up on that brilliant idea you just tweeted and going away and doing their own thing with it, so if this is something that worries you, best not to pitch yourself.

2. Not all agents and publishers are made the same and there are definitely some dodgy ones that follow these contests. So if you do get a like from someone you haven’t heard of spend a little time on research. You’re under no obligation to actually submit if you don’t like the look of them.

3. It’s very US focussed. That doesn’t mean International authors such as myself can’t submit but most of the participating agents and publishers are American so they’ll be looking for work that fits the US market.

4. The feed is incredibly busy so don’t overthink it if you don’t get any love. Concentrate on the positives you can take away.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Revisiting Malta

In most of my novels the action moves around geographically. I love writing about interesting places, and I love visiting those places. Whenever I travel it is always with half a mind on how I can incorporate these settings into my fiction.

Red Rock was no exception. The action moves across Europe, and one of the places Danni ends up in is Malta.

I revisited Malta earlier this year, after quite a long gap, and I went back to some of the settings where Danni has her adventures. Malta has changes a lot in recent years, the most noticeable difference being the amount of development that has happened, and is still going on – skylines dominated by cranes and half-finished buildings all along the coast. But some things haven’t changed and it’s still easy enough to escape the main tourist centres and explore the island's less visited corners.

So here are a few pictures from my travels.

Megalithic ruins, very like the ones Danni hides in on Comino - 
only these are actually on Malta

Danni doesn't visit Gozo but I thought I'd include this - 
it's where the Azure Window used to be.

The citadel, Victoria, Gozo

Fishing village of Marsalforn, Gozo, on a stormy day

Comino viewed from the ferry. 
The chapel you can see was the inspiration for the monastery Danni finds.

Typical Maltese coastline with Gozo in the distance

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Guest Author at Literary Edits

Today I have been interviewed as a guest author over at Literary Edits.

You can read my interview here: Guest Author Kate Kelly.

While you are there do check out the author services they offer - from editing and proofreading to reviewing and helping with marketing. The reviewing is free, of course, but I think you'll find all their other services very competitive.

Friday, 2 August 2019

New Short Story Published

My latest short story sale – a Cli-Fi piece called Permafrost, has just gone live over at Issues in Earth Science.

Issues In Earth Science are a teaching resource and they’ve put together a really informative supporting work package for the classroom, so if you want a bit of background science click on the Teaching Resources link at the top of the story.

The cold bit into me. I forced myself on, step by painful step through the deepening drifts. Numb toes. Numb fingers. Beside me Mitzi stumbled and dropped to her knees and the sledge we were dragging slid into the back of my legs. I reached out with clumsy fur wrapped hands and tried to pull her to her feet.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

What Happened to Cli-Fi?

Six years ago my YA Cli-Fi Novel was about to be launched onto the world, and Cli-Fi (short for Climate Fiction) was the latest buzz.

My publisher pushed this aspect of the story as part of their marketing plan. People were talking about climate change and the threat it posed and more and more authors were exploring climate change related themes in their work. It felt as if fiction was the perfect medium to bring climate change to the attention of the world.

For a while it seemed to be working. I took part in panels at literary events and ran workshops in schools that formed a crossover between literature and science. There was genuine interest.

And yet… Here we are, six years on.

Cli-Fi as a sub-genre never really took off the way we hoped. Every now and then it bubbles up, a new book comes out that explores these themes, and then it fades away. And the world itself? Has anything really changed? The science is still there, gathering momentum as the evidence mounts. Weather is becoming more extreme. Global temperatures are increasing. Sea levels are measurably rising.

But where is the action? Where is the call to arms? Politicians have come and gone yet it feels like we’re stepping backwards. Science Fiction is about to become Science Fact. The world I created in Red Rock feels closer than ever, and that’s not a comfortable thought. The coastal areas are already under threat and there’s a strange unease in the air – a society on the brink.

I can’t help wondering why this is. Maybe as our civilisation spirals inexorably towards becoming a real life dystopian novel people feel less inclined to read about such things. Is climate change something people don’t want to think about? Because maybe they should.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

UNBOUND - publishing DRACA by Geoffrey Gudgion

Every author knows the challenge of finding a publisher, and every published author knows that the next, and perhaps even greater challenge is to achieve respectable sales. The era of self-publishing means that over 200,000 new titles are published in the UK every year. Even mainstream publishers with big marketing budgets find it hard to punch through the ‘noise’.

I’d heard of Unbound as a crowdfunding publisher, and when fellow author Geoffrey Gudgion told me that his novel Draca had been accepted by them I asked him for his perspective on this unusual route to publication.

“I thought long and hard about accepting their offer,” Geoff admitted. “I was confident in the book, which had already won rave feedback from my agent and some well-informed Beta readers, but I wasn’t so sure about my ability to raise money. I’m the classic writer type who’d rather be in a quiet shed, writing, than out there promoting and selling.

“In the end, their reputation convinced me. They are selective, and have chosen some winners including a Man Booker long-lister and, this May, a finalist in the £30,000 Rathbones Folio prize. I liked the concept of building a body of support before launch that helps to ensure a book’s success, and they’re open to cross-genre works like Draca that don’t quite fit an Amazon tick-box. With my agent’s encouragement, I signed.”

“So tell everyone about Draca,” I prompted.

“It’s the story of a war-damaged veteran of Afghanistan who tries to rebuild his life by restoring an old sailing boat, the Draca. His dysfunctional family push him ever closer to the edge, while a yachtswoman friend tries to pull him back. The reader has to decide whether he is haunted by his past, or just haunted.”

“Exciting! So how’s the crowdfunding going?”

“I decided to share the royalties equally with the veterans mental health charity Combat Stress, and that has given the project quite a boost. I also find it easier to ask friends for money if it’s in a good cause. We’re over 60% funded already, and when I’ve collected enough pre-orders Unbound will start the publication cycle. I’m hoping to reach 100% in September.”

“Would you recommend Unbound to other writers?”

“It wouldn’t be for everyone. I think Unbound are best suited to books with an identifiable niche market, or for authors with an established following. Very few authors will know enough people personally to fund a book through friends, so you have to reach out to a wider community. That’s hard work, even with a charitable link, but it will be worth it in the end. If anyone would like a more in-depth view, or crowdfunding tips, they can reach me through my website at"

“And of course, support for Draca would be hugely welcome at ! Pledges range from a single £10 ebook up to a book group bundle, and every supporter’s name will appear in the book. If the book isn’t published for any reason, the money is refunded. End of sales pitch!”

“Geoff, the very best of luck with Draca. I have to tell everyone that I was one of those Beta readers, and I can truly recommend the book!”

“Kate, thank you so much for inviting me. It’s a great privilege to be on The Scribbling Sea Serpent.”

Follow this link to find out more.