Category Archives: Young Adult

Publication day for THE DARK INSIDE

Rupert Wallis    The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis

Huge congratulations to Rupert Wallis on the publication of his debut novel, THE DARK INSIDE.

As part of Simon & Schuster’s blog week, today Rupert will talk about his experience of the publishing process. You can read the blog post on So Many Books, So Little Time.

‘What my editor, Jane, helped me to do was tease out some of the story elements that were lurking in the background, almost as if I was adjusting the equalizer settings on a stereo, toning up certain aspects such as: the relationships between the characters, the world of the story, and some of the darker, more magical elements.  What I have learnt from this is that a writer needs to be very clear about how they want their story to be so they can justify its content when challenged.  Having a good working relationship with an editor is key and I was very lucky to be able to work with Jane who helped me see things about my manuscript I had not noticed before’  – Rupert Wallis

S&S blog schedule:

  • 27th Jan – Fiction Fascination (1024 / 1448 Twitter) – Rupert on writing The Dark Inside
  • 28th Jan – The Book Babblers (4296 Twitter) – Madeleine Milburn on discovering the book
  • 29th Jan Feeling Fictional (1165 / 2393 Twitter) – Jane Griffiths on editing The Dark Inside
  • 30th Jan – So Many Books, So Little Time (801 / 762 Twitter) – Rupert on the publishing process as an author
  • 31st Jan – Once Upon a Bookcase (651 /809 Twitter) – Paul on designing the cover for The Dark Inside
  • 1st Feb – Wondrous Reads (1689 / 4856 Twitter) – Kat on marketing a book like The Dark Inside
  • 2nd Feb –Books For Company (2182 / 998 Twitter) – Blogger questions and answers from Rupert

THE DARK INSIDE is out now in bookstores and on Amazon.


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Blogs and Reviews: THE DARK INSIDE by Rupert Wallis

The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis

As publication day at the end of January draws nearer, this week Simon & Schuster will be posting a blog entry each day about the process of publishing Rupert Wallis’ debut, THE DARK INSIDE.

This series of blog entries will offer a really interesting insight on all aspects of the writing and publishing process – from initially getting the words down on paper, to securing an agent, the editing process, and the subsequent marketing of the book.

The schedule is as follows:

  • 27th Jan – Fiction Fascination (1024 / 1448 Twitter) – Rupert on writing The Dark Inside
  • 28th Jan – The Book Babblers (4296 Twitter) – Madeleine Milburn on discovering the book
  • 29th Jan Feeling Fictional (1165 / 2393 Twitter) – Jane Griffiths on editing The Dark Inside
  • 30th Jan – So Many Books, So Little Time (801 / 762 Twitter) – Rupert on the publishing process as an author
  • 31st Jan – Once Upon a Bookcase (651 /809 Twitter) – Paul on designing the cover for The Dark Inside
  • 1st FebWondrous Reads (1689 / 4856 Twitter) – Kat on marketing a book like The Dark Inside
  • 2nd FebBooks For Company (2182 / 998 Twitter) – Blogger questions and answers from Rupert

‘I’ve actually discovered that something wonderful can happen when writing deeply and truthfully, namely that specific moments and events in a book can morph into something universal. By this Rupert WallisI mean that a reader can read something specific in a story, which can make them recall an experience in their own lives, creating a deeper connection between them and the book. I hope this is true in some small way for those who read ‘The Dark Inside.’  – Rupert Wallis

Read the first blog post now:


Another great review for THE DARK INSIDE by a UK blogger:

‘A book that you can’t stop thinking about, that you have to tell people about and, for me, that’s the mark of a truly powerful novel. A staggering debut by a writer I think we’ll all be watching out for in the future.’  Writing From The Tub

THE DARK INSIDE by Rupert Wallis will be published by Simon and Schuster on 30th January 2014. Pre-order now on Amazon.

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4 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Holly Martin

Do you believe?

I love the idea of Santa Claus.  As a child, the excitement of going to bed on Christmas Eve was often too much to bear, knowing that this great jolly fellow was travelling across the world giving presents to every little girl and boy.  Soon he would be in my house, leaving presents under my tree. It was the stuff of fairy tales; magic, flying reindeer and a sleigh big enough for millions of presents and as children we lapped it up.

I love the lengths parents will go to purely to keep this magic alive for their children. We didn’t have an open chimney when I was younger.  We had some electric fire but that was OK because Santa had a magic key.  We didn’t write letters to Santa, we simply told Mum and Dad what we wanted and they phoned Santa up and placed the order, a little like Argos I imagine.

My Goddaughter writes her letter to Santa every year and throws it up the chimney.  The first year that Megan was old enough to do this, the letter went up the chimney and came back down a few seconds later only to catch fire on the roaring flames.  Megan stared at her letter in dismay as it crumpled in the heat, but her Mum quickly hugged her and told her that the smoke would take the words to Santa.  Of course she accepted it because as a child you trust your parents completely.

But should the belief in magic fade just because we are now older and supposedly wiser?  No absolutely not.  That’s why I love books, because amongst their pages is the ability to transport people to magical worlds with fantastical creatures, to introduce people to rugged heroes and brave heroines, where the impossible is possible and the ordinary is lifted to the extraordinary.  We go on journeys to exotic locations, we make friends and we fall in love with characters more real and tangible than a mythical fat man in a red suit.

THE SENTINEL by Holly MartinHolly Martin‘s YA fantasy novel THE SENTINEL is out now. Her adult romance THE GUESTBOOK will be published on Valentine’s Day next year.

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5 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar


In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Anne Cameron

Christmas is my favourite time of the year.  I love the fact that it gets dark well before the six o’clock news, that I can eat my breakfast in the glow of twinkling fairy lights and snuggle up with a good book before a roaring (or in my case electric) fire.  Mince pies, the smell of pine needles, last minute shopping with a brass band playing all my favourite Christmas carols… 

There can never be enough jingle in my Christmas!

My adoration of the festive season started at an early age.  It was a love so strong, in fact, that it couldn’t be shaken by the shock revelation on Christmas Eve, when I was four-years-old, that Father Christmas didn’t exist. My brother delivered the bombshell with the kind of glee that only an older sibling in possession of toxic information can muster.

But it couldn’t be true!  He had to be lying!  And I was determined to prove him wrong….

I waited by the window, searching the skies for telltale signs of flying reindeer.  I listened for the soft thud of hooves on our roof and the jingle of those very special bells and finally, convinced that I’d heard them, I raced off to bed, confidence restored.

Christmas was back on!

The reindeer had taken flight and I was surely about to receive a visit from the man with the white beard and the stash of presents.  All I needed to be absolutely certain was one tiny glimpse of the red suit itself.  The clock ticked by as I waited, my eyelids drooped but I clung to consciousness armed with the knowledge that my brother would pay for his cruel joke.  And then… the door was opening.  I snapped into fake sleep mode as something stocking-shaped was draped across the foot of my bed.  I peeked, just for a fraction of a second… and the awful, bauble-shattering truth came crashing down upon my head.

Unless Santa had started delegating deliveries to my mum, Christmas was sunk.

I recovered…. eventually.

And my love of all things Christmassy has somehow endured over the years.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve sprinkled the second book in my Lightning Catcher series with enough snow to sink a small island?  Could it also explain my excessive use of knitwear, pompoms, snow boots and stodgy puddings?  Is it possible, in fact, that I have allowed my yearning for the perfect, shockproof, Santa-encompassing Christmas to inspire an entire book?

Let me grab my Rudolf slippers and I’ll give it some serious thought!

LIGHTNING CATCHER: THE STORM TOWER THIEF, the second book in the action-packed Lightning Catcher series by Anne Cameron, is out in May 2014.

The Storm Tower Thief by Anne Cameron

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10 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


C.J. Daugherty

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing Incorrectly

I grew up in the US and, until 2000, I’d spent every Christmas of my life there. That year, I moved to Britain (ostensibly for two years but here I still am so, ho-ho. Plans. AmIright?).

My first British Christmas was spent with kindly friends who took me in, stuffed me with delicious food and wine and spared me any singing. Therefore, it wasn’t until my second Christmas in Britain that I learned you sing all the carols wrong.

First I should mention, I love singing. I sang in choir as a child and used to dream of having my own band. I decided to become a writer instead so there went that always quite tenuous dream.

But I still love to sing. And Christmas songs are a thing with me. I start humming “Jingle Bell Rock” weeks before any trees are actually trimmed. In New Orleans, where I lived before moving to Britain, I looked forward to the annual candle-light carolling in the French Quarter with the breathless anticipation of a child awaiting Santa Claus’ tumble through the chimney.

So when my local church in London put up flyers about candle-light Christmas carolling I put the date in my calendar. I couldn’t wait.

On the appointed night I arrived early, and happily collected my candle at the door. I was very impressed to see a trumpeter or two in addition to the organ player.

Here in England, I thought, they do it right.

The song list looked pleasingly familiar. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Oh Little Town of Bethlehem along with Away in a Manger. Just perfect.

The vicar called for us to rise for the first song, the music began and…

It was the wrong tune.

I stood there, mouth open comically but no sound coming out, staring at my song sheet.

The lyrics were mostly the same but the tune –the all-important hummable tune – it was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Everyone around me was singing with gusto but I just stared at them, clutching my candle as if it might save me from this Christmas nightmare.

The next song, I told myself, will be familiar.

But it wasn’t, reader. It wasn’t.

That’s not how you sing Oh Little Town of Bethelehem, I thought with rising horror. Or anything. Ever.

But it is. Here.

The problem is I know the US versions of those tunes as well as I know my own heartbeat. I don’t have to think about it – they rise from my subconscious memory without effort. I memorised them as a child through rote repetition and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to unlearn them. Singing those words with a different song was like being told to breathe just a little differently.

I did try but it didn’t work. My singing was out of tune. My voice sounded dubious even to my own ears. My heart wasn’t in it.

It didn’t feel like Christmas.

At last, I gave up the feeble attempt and just listened to other people sing as my candle dripped warm wax onto my hand.

Over the years I’ve had plenty of time to think about this situation. I might not have carols, but at least I have Christmas songs. Peggy Lee and Nat King Cole. All the familiar voices. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose…

But even the secular Christmas songs were different here and I don’t know why I thought they wouldn’t be. I’d never heard of The Snowman cartoon before I moved to Britain. Or of Slade.

I’ve come to like most of the popular British songs in a distant sort of way. But not all. I could happily throw Wham’s “Last Christmas” from the top floor of The Shard and watch it shatter into ten million pieces.

But I still prefer the ones I grew up with. So every year I pack my iPod with “The Little Drummer Boy” and “White Christmas” and all the songs I love and make my own holiday soundtrack.

Here are my Top 10 Christmas songs. In any nation.

Nat King Cole — The Christmas Song

Lou Rawls – Christmas Is

Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis

The Kinks — Father Christmas (Give us Some Money)

Dean Martin – Let it Snow!

Brenda Lee – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight)

Louis Armstrong – Zat you Santa Claus?

Otis Redding — White Christmas

NIGHT SCHOOL FRACTURE by C.J. DaughertyC. J. Daugherty‘s latest novel, NIGHT SCHOOL: FRACTURE, the third book in her international bestselling series NIGHT SCHOOL is out now.

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13 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Jenna Burtenshaw

The Story of Ted

Meet Ted.

Ted is the cuddliest cat you could know. He’s my writing buddy, window guardian and a fellow bird watcher.

I have two dogs who are both crazy trouble on legs.  Ted has more important feline business to get on with. ‘Something new! I must rub my face on it!’ He is king of the house, but we didn’t go out looking for a magnificent cat. He came to us.

In 2011, there was a compost heap tucked at the far end of garden, and one day I spotted a black and white cat curled up on top of it. He kept coming back every day throughout autumn, keeping warm on top of the rotting leaves as the nights grew colder. He was a peaceful soul. Birds landed next to his paws and he just let them flutter off. He had to belong to someone, but he was skinny and sad, so we left food out for him at night and let him be.

Soon, we realised, the cat wasn’t leaving the garden. He spent days and nights tucked up in a box under the conifer trees. We popped down to feed him and see he was ok until, eventually, he let us get close. His fur was matted, his legs and belly were muddy, his left ear was half-missing and he had a runny nose. No one was looking out for this cat, and he needed some help.

We added a blanket and hot water bottle to his den, but then the snow started. The wetness and cold of early winter was proving too much for his health. He looked sickly and rarely moved, so on December 2nd, we managed to tempt him into a dog crate and bring him inside. He ran around that crate in a frenzy for two minutes, wild-eyed and afraid, until he realised that being in the house wasn’t so bad. He was warm and safe for the first time in a long while, so he sat down, snuggled in his fleece and slept.

Throughout December, that crate became his sanctuary. He slept most of the time, sometimes coming out to stretch his legs, but always returning to his safe place. We managed to bathe and shave him and took him to the vets. He had health problems that would never improve and his cut ear marked him as a feral cat that had been caught and released. “Do you want to hand him over for re-homing?” the vet asked.


That day, Ted was microchipped and returned home a full member of the family. Now he sits on my desk when I’m writing, demands tummy and cheek rubs at times that suit his busy snoozing schedule, and has a definite soft spot for my mum. He’s never shown any interest in venturing back out into the world. He has cosy dens, warm blankets and plenty of humans to cuddle up with on a night. It took a long time to gain his trust, but he is worth every moment of it.

In our house, December 2nd is Ted’s Day, and Christmas will always be the time when he joined us; our little wild man who came in from the cold.


Jenna Burtenshaw‘s latest book WINTERCRAFT: LEGACY, the third in her critically acclaimed WINTERCRAFT series, is out now.

Wintercraft Legacy by Jenna Burtenshaw

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18 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Holly Bourne

How to get an agent under your Christmas tree

Mariah Carey wants ‘you’ – whoever that is. Lots of gappy-mouthed children want their two front teeth… But, if you’re an unpublished writer, all you want for Christmas is a literary agent under your tree or in your stocking. Though not literally, that would be weird for everyone.

So how can you make that wish come true within the Twelve Days of Christmas? Here are my top tips.

Step one: Have you actually written a book?

Nope? Then why are you reading this please? That is called procrastination, and it ain’t gonna help you get an agent. Go back to your room/coffee shop and put words upon words onto a page until it is finished.

Step two: Have you edited the book?

And this doesn’t mean reading it back once, thinking, “I’m a frickin’ genius – watch out JK Rowling, I’m buying the castle next door’. Read the entire book and make notes about every tiny part of the plot that isn’t perfect. Then mend it. Then read the entire book again – sentence by agonising sentence – making every word beg to stay on the page.

Step three: Do you know what genre your book is?

But my book is unique! But my book crosses several genres! But my book is so unfathomably intellectual it transcends the very concept of genres! (Tip: that means it’s a ‘literary’ novel). Sorry, but you need to put your book in a box. Agents and publishers like boxes.

Step four: Get your grubby hands on a copy of the Artists and Writers Yearbook…

… and read it with a magnifying glass, notepad and pen. ALL THE ANSWERS are in there. How to write covering letters, how to write synopses, how to approach agents – they are telling you what to do! They want to publish your amazing book! That is why they are telling you.

Step five: Circle every agent in the book that represents your genre

Don’t even think about sending your manuscript to an agent who doesn’t. You are just asking for a big fat whacking rejection and an evening clutching it to your ribcage, sobbing ‘but whhhhhy?’ Make a list of all the agents representing your genre – this is now your longlist.

Step six: Start researching your longlist

Get online and look at every single agent you’ve listed. Look at the other authors and books they represent. See any you like? Hate them all? Use this to make a shortlist of your favourite agents. Start with about five.

Step seven: Stalk the almighty hell out of your agent shortlist

Short of hanging outside their office with a pair of binoculars, research your top five thoroughly. Get on their Twitter accounts and see if they seem ‘nice’ – the agent/author partnership needs to be a friendship. If you go on their Twitter and think ‘what an idiot’, it’s likely you won’t mesh. Go on their website, take a look at their blog. Wait – you’re doing this right now… Well done – you are already on step seven. Go you!

Step eight: Write your synopsis

What is your book about? Can you explain that to people in one line? No? You need to. Your entire book needs to fit onto a single page of A4 paper. This can take weeks. You will most certainly cry during this process. It will be worth it.

Step nine: Write your covering letter

Make each one personal. Tell them why you’ve picked them as an agent. Tell them why you’re interesting and qualified to write a book. Be confident but don’t stray into crazy narcissistic territory (“I think this is better than War and Peace”). Don’t tell them your mum loved it. Of course she did, she squeezed you out of her body – she is biased.

Step ten: Follow the agent’s submission guidelines to the letter

If they ask for the first three chapters, only send them that. If they ask for the first 10,000 words, only send them that. If they ask you for Times New Roman, 11pt, with double spacing, make the tweaks. If they ask you for money first… run in the opposite direction.

Step eleven: Proofread your submission until words lose all meaning

You are showcasing your writing – get the basics right. Punctuation, grammar, syntax – make every word melt into the agent’s eyeballs with bliss. You’ve come so far, don’t mess it up with a ‘your’ ‘you’re’ muddle.

Step twelve: Send it off and wait patiently

Don’t ring them up, demanding ‘have you got it yet?’ Send, wait, and prepare to lose the next weeks of your life giving yourself RSI by repeatedly hitting the refresh button on your email.

Holly Bourne‘s debut novel SOULMATES is out now. Translation rights have been sold in the Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Spain and Turkey. 

SOULMATES by Holly Bourne

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