Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Bye-Bye, 2013!

This year has been awesome in a lot of ways, but also kind of shitty in others and I can therefore say quite emphatically that I'm looking forward to 2014! 

But. This is not a post that will dwell on the rubbish parts. So here's me looking back at the best bits of my 2013. (And yes, I'll probably remember in a couple days that there were other best bits that I've forgotten to include. Oh, well.)

1. My son turned two this year. TWO. He might as well be twenty. Where does the time go?!

2. I rewatched pretty much all my favourite episodes of Doctor Who this year. That's a good forty episodes or so. At least twice. Which means my toddler is now a fan too. He can identify all the Doctors and comes running the moment he hears David Tennant's regeneration music; he only recently learned to say "please" and "thank you", but he's been able to say "Doctor" for months. (Yes, I am that parent who lets her child watch the Doctor change faces so that she can write her book. I AM NOT ASHAMED.)

3. Favourite book I read this year? I don't know! I've read so much great stuff this year and the problem is I'm quite fickle, which means the most favourite books that pop into my head are the ones I read and loved most recently and not necessarily the ones I loved the absolute most. But I'll have a stab at it and name a few: Sarah Rees Brennan's Untold, Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity (or did I read that one late last year? Damn it.) and both of Jenny Colgan's Rosie Hopkins sweetshop books (if you haven't read them, DO IT. They're so fuzzy and funny and awesome.) There are definitely others I've loved as much, but I just can't think of them right now!

4. I wrote a book. I started it in November of 2012, but it's very much my 2013 book. I've worked on it literally all year and am working on it even now. And I discovered today, on the very last day of the year (thanks, Wendy and Soumi!), that it's up on Goodreads. Yay! 

I have no confirmed title, cover or pub date to share with you yet, but I'm going to copy in the teaser here because hey, what a great way to bring in 2014!

To those who don't know better, Greymaren is a glittering city of order and great invention, its skyline spiked with spires and its shadows playing host to enchanted, dangerous markets where anything may be bought for the right price.

But beneath the city's surface is a much older and darker place: a city where the bitter winters can kill, where witches sometimes have the answers, where memories can be bought and sold and stolen, where mad mothers are locked away - and where Elizabeth Graves is about to risk everything to punish a thief.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

So it's Christmas Eve (how exactly did it come round so fast?) and I just wanted to pop in to say I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas - or equivalent holiday season - and a fantastic New Year.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

How to Survive the Apocalypse, YA Style

Exactly what it says on the tin. Here's what I've learned from YA dystopian, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic novels (mostly quite general, but there are a couple of specific books noted next to the lesson or example they inspired.)

1. The whole "safety in numbers" thing is a myth. If you're going to follow the YA Survival Guide, it would seem it's very, very unwise to hang around with more than a couple of other people. You'll start fighting for control (This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers), at least one of you is bound to be a lunatic, and - the clincher - it's so much easier to hide and go unnoticed when there are only a couple of you (The Outside by Laura Bickle)

2. But that's not to say all of you will survive anyway. Nope. Always remember that: even if there are only two or three of you, one of you is bound to be eaten/shot/killed in some other dramatic way (The Outside). So make sure it isn't you. Betray everyone around you if you have to and shoot innocent people if they're in your way. (Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins)

3. Go shopping. (Life as We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer) The instant you get a whiff that something's up, be it from the news or because the moon's changed position or because you saw your formerly dead neighbour get up and start munching on a squirrel, go stock up on everything non-perishable. Tins, cans, bottles, you name it. Don't forget tons of bottled water and batteries for flashlights. Water and electric supplies inevitably go on the fritz when the apocalypse arrives. It's probably a good idea to keep a few weapons handy too. Apparently the apocalypse turns previously nice human beings into thieving, murdering scum and you're going to want to defend yourself.

4. Barricade yourself somewhere safe(ish). Supermarket, house with an awesome security system, wherever. Find a spot, take all the supplies you can possibly find with you, and lock yourself in. Waiting out the apocalypse seems to result in a lot less drama and a lot more survival than wandering the streets.

5. And once you've done that, don't let strangers in. I know, I know. Do you want to turn into that person? The horrible one in all the stories that doesn't let the intrepid and bleeding hero/heroine in? Probably not. But do you want to be the one who sweetly and trustingly lets the bleeding stranger in, only to then be killed and robbed? There is no such thing as an unpunished good deed in post-apocalyptic YA.

There you go: how to survive the apocalypse, with or without your conscience intact.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Paper vs Ebooks

I come from a family of readers. My father reads avidly. My mother reads avidly. There are bookshelves of all shapes and sizes in my parents' house and I had my very own (tall) shelf by the time I was eight and it was full. Today, nothing's changed. My own house has four large bookcases and one small one for the toddler and they're all full and there are books stashed elsewhere. 

But. Funny thing I've noticed? I'm not buying as many as I used to. At least not on paper.

Let's flash back to six, seven, eight years ago (whenever the original Kindle first wandered onto the scene). My mother told me about it.

MUM: Isn't it cool, though? You can hold it in one hand and store hundreds of books on it!
ME: Nah. It's not the saaaame.

Me, I love paper. I love cracking a brand new spine and browsing bookshops and stroking shiny covers. There's a tactile joy with hardcovers and paperbacks that ebooks simply don't have.

But. I've grown to love ebooks too.

I always hear about how it's paper vs ebooks. Vs. Like it's got to be one or the other. Why? Why can't you have both?

Here's what it boils down to for me:

When I travel, I take ebooks with me. Always. I have the Kindle app on my phone and an ancient Kindle and one or both of them travel with me. Ebooks are an absolute godsend not only when I'm away from home, but also on the actual travelling part of the travel - long train journeys and long flights (not cars or buses. I can't read on either without feeling sick.)

As for home, well, that depends. A combination of impatience (I must have things IMMEDIATELY!) and a lack of space means I don't buy as many paperbacks and hardcovers as I used to. I also have a hierarchy for books.

1. I love the author/series and CANNOT WAIT to read the next book = paperback/hardcover pre-order
2. I remember reading a book years ago and loving it = paperback
3. This sounds really good, but I'm not sure = download the Kindle sample, then the book itself if I like the beginning
4. I read an ebook and fall absolutely in love with it = get a pretty paperback version for my bookshelf

#3 is obviously the most common.

My Kindle library will never replace my bookshelves, and one day I fully intend to have one of those libraries with sliding ladders like in Beauty and the Beast, but there is definitely room for ebooks in my life.

What about you? Are you an either/or reader? Or do you read a bit of both too?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Five Things for the Fall

1. Ugh, the weather is horrible. I can already feel my winter gloom coming on. On the bright side, however, there are still bits and pieces that remind me of how pretty autumn can really be.

2. Revisions and more revisions! It's busy editing season for me. I'm smack bang in the middle of a round right now - which I realise is a mysterious thing to say when you don't actually know what I'm working on - but I will share details soon, I promise!

3. Downton Abbey. I am so late to the party, but I finally started watching it during a gap between revision rounds and then had to keep watching. Literally caught up to the current series in three days and now I watch them week by week. I think that equates to about eight episodes or so per day during the frenzy. Yep. When I get obsessed, I get obsessed. Anyone else develop obsessions like this?

4. Steampunk. I've always loved it, but I've recently started making stuff (like the necklace below). It started out as something of a whim, but I really like it and it's one of those brilliant things that helps me think about bookish conundrums while I'm doing it.

5. Books! I don't think I could list every book I've read and loved recently, but here are a couple of new releases that I completely recommend: 

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll
Red Rock by Kate Kelly

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Hello, blogosphere! Just wanted to say: if anyone hasn't read Unspoken and its sequel Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan, go do it now! Funny, exciting fantasy with lots of dark things and romance.

Honestly, it's so very rare that I read a book (or series) and actually long to live in its world and be one of its characters. So I'm always excessively excited when it does happen!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Zero Title Ideas

Hello, everyone! Just a quick one today to share a few things.

I'm over at the brilliant Author Allsorts blog, talking about what it's like after you get the coveted book deal.

The US edition of The Lost Girl made it into the top 100 Kindle bestsellers today! I still can't quite believe that. I keep looking at it just to make sure I haven't imagined it (and obviously I've saved a screenshot, because it won't last!)

Crime thriller fans? Karin Slaughter's Will Trent books are awesome. I started the first one last week and am now on the third. They're so addictive.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

On Blogging

A massive (and belated) thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes last month, commiserated with me on the whole TWO-FIVE thing, and promised to let me be 22 forever. Cheers!

Even if you don't follow this blog regularly, a quick glance at the post dates on this page alone will show you that I haven't been here much recently. I just wanted to pop in today and try to explain why.

1. Time
It's such a boring, annoying reason. But there's no getting around it. I'm back to looking after my toddler full-time, while also trying to work on a book. That leaves very little time for  ANYTHING else.

2. Content
Sometimes I have exciting news to share. Sometimes I want to talk about other authors' new releases. Sometimes I want to talk about a movie I've seen or a book I've just read that I LOVE. Sometimes I want to talk about other fun stuff. But sometimes... none of those things apply. I know I should think ahead and have a little list of fun things to fall back on when this happens, but I'm a spontaneous blogger. It's more fun and feels more real to me that way. So when I don't have anything I really want to say, I don't post. I'd rather be AWOL for a little while than churn out something half-hearted.

Which is all my way of saying I haven't abandoned the blog. I haven't lost interest. I still read your blogs and love your comments and am still very much around (try me on Twitter!) 

And I will definitely, definitely continue blogging. I just want to wait until there's something I simply HAVE to say.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

25. Oh ****

I'm twenty-five today. As in, years. Of age. Not twenty-fifth on the list of all-time bestselling authors. (As if.)

I don't want to be twenty-five. I had things I wanted to do and be by the time I turned twenty-five and have yet to do and be some of those things. Write a bestseller. Go to Venice. Meet Jeremy Irons. Be more patient. Ask me if I've done and been those things. Er, no.

You know, maybe I'll just be twenty-two forever. That's right: I'm twenty-two. Plenty of time to do and be all of those things now!

Cake for everyone!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

How to Get the Word Out

Part of my job, as an author, is to talk about my books and get the word out about my books and generally find ways to make readers aware of my books. Of course, there's a polite way to do this and there's an obnoxious way to do this. No one wants to listen to the person who does nothing but tweet their book release date or quotes from their book and NOTHING ELSE.

So in this post, I'm going to touch briefly on what I personally feel are the most effective ways of getting the word out (online). I'm basing this not just on my own efforts but mostly on the methods other authors have used that have successfully caught my attention and, more importantly, my interest. I'm going to keep it short and sweet because I think most of these are self-explanatory.

1. Contests and/or giveaways
I think human beings have an innate competitive streak. Also an innate fondness for goodies. Free stuff is always a winner. I've entered a giveaway in the past and gone on to explore the author's other work.

2. Glimpses into the process
Interesting, funny and honest peeks into the process of writing a book or working on a character always get me interested. And if the glimpse is particularly cool or funny, I will remember the author and the book.

3. Blogging
Fairly obvious, I suppose. But I think blogs also have to be fun places to be. If a blog reader enjoys coming back again and again to read your posts, chances are they'll think they will enjoy your books too. I know I do.

4. Tweets or posts about popular things
This isn't actually about self-promotion, nor should it be, but I often find I remember tweets and authors who talk about things I love - or hate!

And me? What's my favourite way of getting the word out about my stuff? Well, I just shamelessly post cute photos like this one...

Writers, how do you get the word out? Readers, what captures your attention best?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

9 Weeks of Reading

As promised last week, this post is going to be devoted to the books I read (and loved) while the Internet was away with the fairies. There's not actually as many as I thought there were, mostly because an awful lot of the books I read haven't made this list; I'm not going to list the books I didn't like or didn't finish.

So in no particular order...

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I love this book and nothing I say could adequately describe how I feel about it, so I'm just going to leave it at: clever, startling, heartbreaking.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
This is quite a dark book in some ways, and quite a sad book in others, but I spent most of it laughing out loud because Sarah Rees Brennan is just so. Very. Funny.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This wasn't the first time I read it, but I loved it all over again. Definitely a book full of awful things and really sad bits, but also all the warm fuzzies.

Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
It'd been years since I read a Princess Diaries book and it suddenly occurred to me that I never found out how it all ended! So I went and got it. Awww. It ended just the way I would have liked it to!

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Weird as anything, but also weirdly addictive. I couldn't stop. I had to know!

Chime by Franny Billingsley
I love this book so much. It's dark and magical and twisty and features a complicated heroine I absolutely adore.

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
I couldn't put this down. It's another dark, twisty story and incredibly sad in parts. But it's also incredibly hopeful and ends with a lovely sense that the wrongs things have been put right.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
I know, I know. Why did it take me so long? I wouldn't say I totally and absolutely loved it, because more often than not I was either a little lost with all the sciencey stuff or my wimpy little heart was breaking for how tiny these children were and how much Ender loved Valentine and all that, BUT. That. Twist. Is. Awesome.

ACID by Emma Pass
I can't actually remember if I read this right before the Great Internet Black Hole or during, but either way: it's an action-packed thriller. Normally I don't even like action-packed thrillers, but I couldn't stop reading this. I had to know how it would end. I had to know what would happen. I also love Emma's writing style.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
I would have expected nothing less from the author who broke my heart twice with If I Stay and Where She Went. This is less devastating, but is nevertheless romantic and sweet and sad.

There we go! I'm sure I've left something out and forgotten about something else, but oh well. Have you read any of these books? Do you have any favourite recent reads to recommend?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Five Random Things for March and Aprll

(YES! I'm back!)

1. WE HAVE INTERNET! We cancelled the old service and got a new one wired in and now it's up. I can't begin to tell you how happy this makes me. Now I work properly, I can stream stuff again, I can connect my iPad to the network and sync the notes I make there, I can use Skype or FaceTime on a decent-sized screen, I can play songs on repeat on Youtube, basically THE WORLD IS MY OYSTER.

2. The IPL is back. I hate it. Unfortunately my husband, brother and baby love it. Which is means it's on TV all. The. Bloody. Time.

3. Snow. Snow in April. Wtf?

4. BOOKS! Without the internet, I've had more time to read and have read some pretty awesome stuff in the last couple months. I'll post a proper list of the best ones next week, but for now my favourite new reads include the tenth Princess Diaries book (by Meg Cabot. I used the love the others when I was much younger, but somehow never got round to finishing the series), Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (clever and heartbreaking) and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (I love that it's set in England and it's so, so funny).

5. My book. I've been writing my New Thing for something like four months now and I am still so very much in love with it. Whether my agent will love it too, however, is another question... but we'll see. Word count: 81k. I probably have another 25-30k to go.

Hope everyone is having a lovely week! What have you been up to lately? Read anything good?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A brief reappearance... say I am so, so very sorry if it seems like I've abandoned le blog of late! First I whinge, then I vanish. It is inexcusable, but I have to offer my excuses anyway.

We've moved and all that is out of the way.


1. I'm devoting almost every waking moment to writing,

2. We STILL don't have our broadband set up (yes, Plusnet, I'm calling it. You are a bit s***),

3. So I have to do pretty much everything on my phone, including blogging, which is not easy. So I haven't done it. And probably won't until our home is a blissful wireless-ridden haven once more, and

(I love my phone. I tweet, post short updates, email and God knows what else on my phone. But writing long, (supposedly) intelligent pieces of text? No. Sorry, iPhone, I can't do it.)

4. I may or may not have a broadband connection in 2013. At the rate things are going, it's tough to say.

But AS SOON as time and the internet permits, I'll be back.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Moving sucks...

Seriously. I'm sorry to whinge, but it's killing me. There is no end to the things that need doing, and it seems like I lie awake for hours at night stressing, and the baby gets in the way, and I have no idea whether the new internet will be connected in time, and I really want to be writing but THERE'S NO TIME.

Yuck. So there I am. Grumpy and moving. Hopefully the worst will be over by next week, though!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Five Things for February

It's time for that... irregular?... feature again! I think I did it in November, and then kind of neglected it in December and January, and now here it is again and it kind of covers December, January and the little we've seen of February too.

1. I watched the 2009 BBC miniseries adaptation of Emma a week ago and I LOVED it. I always thought the version with Kate Beckinsale was the best adaptation, but this one beats it by a mile. For one thing there's more of it. Four hours of it. For another I really, really like Romola Garai. For yet another, Jonny Lee Miller is eye candy. There's no two ways about it. It's funny, it's touching, it's really great. If you're an Austen fan and haven't yet seen this one, go watch it!

2. We're moving house. Again. Three moves in about three years. It's a big fat pain in my rear end. (On the bright side, if we get the house we want - and there's no telling whether or not we will - it's a lovely house.)

3. I love Grey's Anatomy. And especially Chandra Wilson, Sandra Oh and Kevin McKidd in it. I have been a huge fan for a long time but I don't think I've ever said so on here. Or maybe I have. Either way, I love it. In fact, I love it so much I sometimes dream about it. You know something's got its claws into you when that happens.

4. Massive website redesign! My old one was driving me crazy. I didn't really like the way it looked anymore, but it was also a huge, huge trial to update. Literally took me twenty minutes to get in there and change or add, like, a sentence. Which meant, of course, that it put me off updating the darn thing and what's the point of a website if you're not going to share new and current stuff?

5. And this. Because it's cute.

What have you been up to recently? Are you a fan of Emma or Grey's Anatomy or babies? Moving sometime soon? (If the latter is a yes, I feel your pain.)

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A Day in the Life (Part Two)

I am completely run off my feet today, so I'm just going to point you to my guest post over at the Random House blog. I'm their Author in Residence this month, which is totally cool, so do pop over and have a look!

I wrote about a day in my writing life a couple of years ago and so much has changed since then (book out, baby out, moving house) that I thought I ought to take stock again. That guest post is the result. Here are tiny extracts from both posts to compare:


3.50 PM: Notice that I received a text message half an hour ago. Odd. Why didn't I hear that? Hmm. Forget to reply to text message because brain is fully lost in book-world. 
4.10 PM: Realize I'm hungry. Even odder. Have I not eaten today? Oh. Why didn't I? Hmm. Forget to eat because brain is fully lost in book-world. 
5 PM: Brain aches. Eat a plum.


10.30AM – 12.30PM Baby asleep. Put baby very gingerly down in cot and race like a maniac to laptop. Write one blog post, two pages of book and answer interview questions for blogger. Start writing a third page of book. Consider eating. Baby wakes up and interrupts.

It's amazing how much difference a tiny baby can make! (And also how some things don't change at all...)

Hope you're all having a fantastic week.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

It's out there!

To those of you who follow my page on Facebook or who've seen this on Twitter, this may be old news. But I wanted to share it here anyway!

My book.

In a real bookshop.

On real shelves.

In a lot of ways, this was the moment I spent years waiting for. This was the moment it was supposed to, finally, feel real. And to be perfectly honest, there are few things - very few things - more exciting and squee-worthy than seeing your book on shelves. (It's also kind of embarrassing to stand there taking photographs while people stare, but we'll disregard that part.)

I loved it. But I also realized, when I saw it, that my book had already felt real. It had been real for a couple of months and it was only in hindsight that I realized that. I think it became real the moment I got my first email from a reader, from someone who didn't know me or my mother or my husband in the slightest, from someone who completely randomly picked up my book and loved it. It felt real then.

So seeing my book was brilliant. I will always, always treasure the moment I spotted it and spotted subsequent copies of it elsewhere. But getting your emails is even more brilliant. Thank you for that.

What are you excited about this week?

PS. I know the book's been out there in the US and plenty of other places for months, so this is probably in no way exciting for you guys, but this was the first time I got to go see it. So it was a win for me.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Cover Talk: interview with Bella Kotak

I am super, super excited today to introduce you guys to the totally awesome Bella Kotak. I managed to wrangle Bella into doing an interview with me (thanks, Bella!)

Bella is the cover model on the UK edition of The Lost Girl, which is now officially available - yep, that's her face below! - and she also happens to be the photographer too. Which seems twice as cool to me. I'm normally so intrigued by cover models, and the process behind designing book covers, so when my editors at Random House Children's Books told me about Bella, I jumped at the chance to find out more.

Hi, Bella! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi Sangu! Alright, well my name is Bella and at the moment I work as both an architect and a photographer. 

Did you always want to work in photography? Or was it just something that happened?

Photography for me began really as a hobby. I'd always been interested in taking pictures and in 2006 discovered Flickr and the incredible amount of talent on that site. I came across a few people who were doing a 365 project ( a self portrait a day for a year) and that inspired me to pick up a camera and see what I could create. It was this project that really challenged and fuelled my passion and by the time I bought my first dSLR I was completely hooked. After that it really was a case of friends seeing my work and either hiring me or recommending me to new customers. I wouldn't have come as far as I have if it wasn't for their support.

The photo on the UK cover of THE LOST GIRL is a self-portrait, right? So you were the photographer and the cover model. Can you tell us what that was like?

Yes it's a self-portrait. Taking one is relatively straight forward, it's just a simple case of setting the camera up on a tripod and using a wireless remote to release the shutter. The edit is later done in photoshop.

I was given a synopsis of the book as well as several precedents of the style / look the publisher was going for. They'd already been through my work so were able to tell me what they liked and wanted me to provide expressions that was akin to the concept of feeling lost, watchfulness and so on. 

I provided them with a selection of images and we then began discussions.

What are some of your favourite books?

I guess anything with an element of fantasy and adventure. I love Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and South of the border, West of the sun both by Haruki Murakami and of course Harry Potter! I also love flicking through photography books, my favourite is Pictures, by Tim Walker. It's huge and bursting with creativity!

And finally: you're stranded on a desert island. What three things would you take with you?

Shampoo, ipad, hammock. If I had to be stranded at least I could be comfortable ;)

Isn't she fab? Hope you're all having a fantastic week!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Hello, 2013!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope you've all had a fantastic Christmas, New Year and general holiday season. My parents and brother came to visit so, for the first time in about five years, we were all together on Christmas Day. I have the baby to thank for that (yeah, they weren't going to make the effort for me) so... thanks, Jem!

I have a lot to look forward to in 2013. The UK edition of The Lost Girl is out on Thursday, I'm working on exciting new projects, the baby is healthy and (when he gets his way) happy and is growing more fun to watch every day, and I HAVE A MACBOOK AIR. I'm a kid, an instant-gratification kind of girl, so as excited as I am about everything I've just mentioned, I kind of have to admit the thing I am really and truly looking forward to doing first in 2013 is playing with my Mac. 

I think I may be addicted to expensive electronics...

As for you guys, I have a lot of cool stuff planned for you too! I'm going to have a contest soon, because it's been yonks since my last one; I'm hoping to finish some new Lost Girl extras and snippets and share them in the near future; I've putting together some writing-related sketches and drawings for those of you who might like to see more of the book, its world and my other writing; I... well, actually, that's all I can think of right now, but I promise this will be a fun year!

What are you looking forward to in 2013?