Friday, 16 December 2011

Why, hello, baby

Yes, that's right; he's been born. And right bang on his due date too, how very punctual! And he's exactly a week old today, which means I've been sifting through countless photos to find a few to post here (and wouldn't you know it, almost all my photos are blurry or weird in some way! I blame the lack of sleep).

First, some baby stats

Name Jeremy
Weight 7lb 8 ounces
Level of cuteness totally off the charts

And all of this, of course, means my blogging will be rather sporadic over the next few weeks. But before I go, here he is (forgive the quality!)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Winners and, um, Way Cool Stuff

I'm really not having a good week with this whole alliteration thing. (I am a writer. Honest. But a poet, me is not.)

As promised, today I'm announcing the winners of my 300 Followers Contest/giveaway! A huge, huge thank you to all my new followers - and to all the old ones who tweeted/blogged about the contest and put the button in your sidebars. Thank you for all your support!

I put your names in one of those cool online number generator thingies and here we are. I didn't make it to the aforementioned 300 followers, but I got over halfway there and am excited enough about it to give prizes away anyway! So two winners get to pick one of the following

a query critique
a 20-page manuscript critique
a £10 Amazon UK voucher (or a $15 Amazon US voucher if you don't shop on the UK site)
a box of homemade cupcakes*

*but really, don't pick this one. Baking and me are not the best of friends.

And the winners are

Janet Johnson and
Alex (from Odd Socks and Pretty Frocks)


As for the 'way cool stuff', I've read quite a few great books lately and I thought I'd share some of my recent discoveries. Who doesn't love a good book recc, right? 

This is my absolute favourite recent read. Narrated by ten-year-old Jamie, it's honest and funny and so not the soppy, grim, bleak thing it might have been in a different author's hands. Grab it. It's sad but you'll laugh. It's amazing.

Build a Man by Talli Roland
I've read all of Talli's novels (and her guide to London, but that's a whole other kettle of fish!) and this one was hands-down my favourite. I don't know why. Maybe I just loved main character Serenity's first-person narrative, maybe I loved how funny and sweet it was, maybe it was a lot of other things. But it's such a fun read. 

Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
My editor Sara sent me this one (so maybe it's not officially out yet, I'm not sure) and I'm so glad she did because it's absolutely lovely. It's a mixture of fantasy and real-worldliness; I guess you could say it's a bit C.S. Lewis-y, only better (I never was a fan of the Narnia books, but that's just me).

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of way cool stuff, UK blog-readers? If you haven't had the Swiss cream bun at Greggs yet, get your hands on one now. I would commit criminal acts for them.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Contests and... Cool Things?

Don't judge; alliteration's not my strong suit. And with the weather getting colder and more rotten, it being a Monday, and my baby STILL refusing to exit my womb, I have to admit I'm not at my most inspired today. 

BUT all is not bleak! The 300 Followers Contest ended last week. I've been having trouble finding the time to blog lately, but I haven't forgotten about the contest, oh no! I didn't make it to 300 followers (sob) but you're all so awesome I've decided to give prizes away anyway. 

So I'm going to pick two winners at random (instead of the original three, because I didn't make it to 300 after all) - and announce them later this week. Yay!

And for those of you who may need a pick-me-up today (like me) - and for all the Star Wars fans out there - here is a link to the BEST ADVERT EVER.

What about you? Anything funny or cool to share today?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Inspired by...

THE LOST GIRL is on Goodreads! I don't even have a neat bit of preamble for that piece of news - it's just so exciting! Do pop over and have a look. Things really feel like they're kicking off and although there's not a whole lot on the book's page yet, it's there and it feels so real now.

 In the wake of the listing, and the announcement on Bookseller, I've had a bunch of people on Twitter ask me questions about the book. And, of course, one of those questions has been about the inspiration behind a book. Authors inevitably get asked how we/they came up with a story. I love hearing the answers. We seem to get ideas everywhere. It's amazing.

So, how to find these ideas?

1. Dreams. Stephenie Meyer famously said Twilight was inspired by a very vivid dream.

2. Song lyrics. Music always helps me! Sometimes a certain line or phrase, paired with a certain bit of music, will send me racing for my laptop.

3. Other books. Ideas can be pilfered freely from classics, myths, fairy tales, poems, other novels. Ideas are rarely brand new. THE LOST GIRL owes a great deal to Frankenstein. More often than not ideas are recycled, revamped, reused, re-a-lot-of-things. But there is a very clear line to be toed here. There's a difference between being inspired - and just plain old copying.

4. News, movies, conversations. Pay attention to what's going on around you. You never know what might set a story-spark ablaze.

5. People. It's amazing how a certain characteristic in a friend or a stranger can send you into a frenzy of excitement. An author I know once tweeted that, while out at the supermarket, she saw a stranger with such wild, moody eyes she couldn't resist writing a story about him.

Where do you find your ideas?

And a little reminder: the 300 Followers Contest ends in six days! PRIZES IN THE OFFING! Please do tweet, blog, just generally get the word out if you can - I'd so appreciate it!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Where are we going from here?

Things don't stay the same for long - and thank heavens for that, or we'd all find ourselves climbing the walls with boredom! And that's true of this blog too. With my baby due in three weeks, and chaos bound to ensue, I thought now was a good time to talk about what you can expect from me/the blog in the immediate future.

I have no intention of vanishing off the face of the blogosphere! Just to get that out of the way first. I've never done the baby thing before so I have no idea what to really expect, but my plan, right now, is to take maybe four weeks off blogging once the baby's born.  (After I've bored everyone with oodles of super-cute baby photos, obviously.)

After that, for a couple of months, I hope to spend a day on here every now and then, scheduling posts and generally catching up on things.

I still plan to visit my favourite blogs and I will always return comments so those things won't change.

Wow. Actually putting all this into a post makes it so official. Like these changes are really real. Can this be? Am I really going to have offspring? Am I never going to have a lie-in on a Saturday again? Ack.

PS. In other news, rather excitingly, I got a mention on the Bookseller and various other blogs this week! Random House Children's Books (UK) sent out a press release about some of their recent acquisitions and THE LOST GIRL features alongside three other debuts - all of which sound amazing!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Covers, Trailers and False Starts (oh, my!)

It's amazing how much more there is to publishing a book than writing a book. Now obviously the author doesn't do all of that other stuff - with a traditional publisher there are editors, copyeditors, sales people, designers, and so many more - but it does still come as a surprise to me to step back and realize just how much of my work time has involved doing things that have little or nothing to do with actual writing.

For example, I recently had a sneaky peek at the US cover concept and design for THE LOST GIRL... 

...and yes, it was every bit as exciting as you might imagine it would be! I've been dying to see a cover for months so it was definitely an OMGIMIGHTFAINT kind of moment. It's early days yet so I'm not allowed to say much about it, but I will say it looked beautiful

And it also felt surreal. For so long this story has only ever been in my head and in words. To see it turned into images and colours like that, by somebody else entirely... well. It made my head spin.

I've also been working on a book trailer. Not exactly writing work, is it? But I really want to create something lovely for the book and so far I'm just bouncing ideas around, visualising possibilities in my head, and making lists of clips/footage I'll need to get my hands on. It's fun (for me, anyway, it might not be every writer's cup of tea) but it's also stressful and hard work and I haven't even got to actually acquiring or editing any footage yet! But it does just show how much of my Writing Day passes by without any writing happening.

But I do write. Or I try. I scribble things. I work on new ideas. But lately I've had a series of false starts. Ideas I've brainstormed and gotten excited about, only to find that they fizzle out when I try to put them onto the page. Or stories I've started that I like, but just don't love, and I find that I go back to the same four chapters and reread them and can't make myself go on. 

It's disheartening. It's disappointing. And it's like a physical itch because I want to write, I want to be working on something new, but nothing feels right at the moment. But I guess that makes me feel hopeful too. Because I'd know it if it felt right. So I know these false starts, these brief sparks of ideas, they're just not it. 

At least not yet. And that's okay.

What's gotten you excited or frustrated lately?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

If I had Siri, I'd...

Last week I blogged about my fantasy checklist. My mother's response was to send me straight to Youtube and to Siri, a virtual personal assistant on the new iPhone who can pretty much do anything for you. She sounds awesome. Okay, so she can't do my cooking and taxes, but maybe one day...

Apparently she has some really funny comebacks too. Like, if you tell her you love her, she tells you you're the wind beneath her wings.

There's my bit of tech envy for the day. Have you discovered anything fun lately?

PS. Don't forget to put your name down to enter the Big 300 Contest - only a few weeks to go and I'm giving away prizes if I make it to 300 followers!