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?