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last updated March 2015
Books are all very well, but you can't write 24 hours a day.
So sometimes I do other things. In fact, I have quite a few metaphorical hats.
There's also eating and sleeping and that kind of things, but they're not here. And non-work things, but they're not here, either. There is a little about those kinds of things on my life now.
Sometimes I work with real, actual people - not ones I've made up in my head or who are long dead. In 2013-15 I was Royal Literary Fund (RLF) Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge. Long ago, I used to teach English and medieval French at the universities of Cambridge and York (see my life then), and more recently I have been course director of the Pembroke and King's Summer Programme course in creative writing along with Brian Keaney.
As RLF Fellow, I was in College one or two days a week during term time seeing students working in any discipline, from first years to people finishing a PhD thesis. Although I was based at Newnham, I also saw students from Selwyn and Lucy Cavendish Colleges. I love being an RLF Fellow. I see such a wide variety of students doing often very advanced work on all types of subject from Classics or Anglo-Saxon to neuroscience or anthropology.
From September 2006 to July 2008 I was a Royal Literary Fund (RLF) Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and from October 2010 to July 2011 at the University of Essex. The remit of RLF Fellows is to help students and staff to develop their writing skills through intensive one-to-one sessions. All RLF Fellows are published writers whose works are deemed to have ‘literary merit’.
The PKP programme ran for eight weeks in the summer, and was based in the Cambridge colleges of Pembroke and Kings. It was highly competitive, the work is very intensive (slave drivers, we are!), and it counted towards students' degrees at the their home universities (mostly in the USA).
From September 2010 to July 2012 I was a Royal Literary Fund Lector, promoting deep and critical reading through weekly reading-aloud groups. In 2010-11 this was based at Lucy Cavendish College and was for young parents; in October 2011-12 it was based at U3A, Cambridge, with retired people.
I occasionally offer one-to-one help privately to students at Cambridge University attending colleges that don't have an RLF Fellow, and mentorship for independent writers. Email me if you would like to know more about this.
Sometimes I design websites for other writers. Mostly, I make websites that writers can upate themselves as I think that's important - people should have control of their online presence. And they shouldn't have to bother/pay me every time they want to tell the world about a new book, event or idea.
Here are a few of them.
(All these say they are designed by tadpoleX. I am tadpoleX.)
In addition, I'm a sys admin on The History Girls blog . The History Girls is a multi-author blog by writers of historical fiction for children and adults.
More and more books have video trailers on YouTube. In fact, as most people under 18 are more likely to search on YouTube than on Google, it's a very good idea to have a book trailer.
Here are a couple of trailers I've made for other authors. Of course, I don't get around to making trailers for my own books because I don't pay myself to do it...
Trailer for City of Swords by Mary Hoffman, published by Bloomsbury, 2012
Trailer for Oliver Strange by Dianne Hofmeyr, published by Tafelberg, 2012
I used to do a lot editorial work, years ago. I do a little now for one or two publishers, and occasionally take manuscript development and critique work from developing writers.
I worked with a lot of students on the MA in Children's Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University and used to review picture books for Writeaway and Armadillo Magazine. I'm particularly interested in picture book critique and development. My very occasional blog Book Vivisection gives some insight into how picture books work. Again, email me if you want further details about editorial and development work, whether you are a publisher or a writer.
How does sorting differ from teaching? Well, teaching helps a writer develop skills that they can take to other projects; sorting helps fix one particular book (though I hope some transferable skills emerge, too).