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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Hello, hello, hello, my muffins! Happy Wednesday to all. Today I've got a link to my post on the Authors Allsorts in which I dish the juicy details about my stationery habit. But before I get there, I need to tell a story, talk about something I found out last week, and do a little Public Service Announcement.

So, I've mentioned in previous posts that I've had a lot of health problems this year. In April I began to get terrible headaches that made my eyes feel as if they were liquifying in my head. I could barely look at a computer screen without the light from the screen causing me agony, I felt tired all the time no matter how much sleep I got, my asthma started to act up, I often found it very difficult to concentrate, and I also suffered a lot with feeling randomly nauseous.

Now, the thing is that I've had headaches and migraines all my life, and I also have IBS, which can make you feel sick fairly often. And people's asthma can get worse or better over the years. So these things seemed, to me, like a simple (if unwelcome) worsening of problems I already had. My main concern was that feeling this way was having a huge impact on my work and I focussed on that because if I lost my ability to write, I knew I really would be up a creek without a paddle.

Concerned friends and family offered theories. The tiredness might be a new manifestation of my depression, after everything I'd been through in 2013. The change in frequency and intensity of my headaches might be a natural effect of getting older. I should probably go and get an asthma check to see if I needed a different kind of spray. If I felt sick all the time, perhaps I should try keeping a food diary again, like I had for several months when I first learned I had IBS. I didn't know if any or all of this was true, or would help, but after feeling awful for months I did know that I needed to seek assistance because it wasn't getting better on its own.

I went to the doctor and was given medication to help with the headaches, as well as a new asthma regimen. I went to the optician and got new glasses. I developed new coping strategies, such as overloading on caffeine in the mornings, wearing dark-tinted sunglasses whenever I worked on my computer, and resigning myself to getting to bed quite early and getting up much later than before (even though previously I'd never needed much sleep, and had always been the kind of person who had to get up early to feel well) so that I got nine hours or more sleep a night. I faithfully took my asthma sprays twice a day.

Honestly, even after all this I still didn't feel that much better, but I was able to get back to writing as I adjusted to feeling, basically, below par all the time, and to working around the constant pain in my head and eyes and the weird nauseated dizziness. I resigned myself.

I had no way of knowing what was really going on.

Last week I woke up to discover that a) the house was freezing cold because my boiler had broken down and b) that I didn't have a headache for the first time in... weeks. The boiler wasn't a surprise, really; it's broken down pretty much annually every year since it was installed. But I was a bit shocked to wake up feeling rested and not in pain. Anyway, I called up the repair people and they came out.

Happily for me, the person who came was a very experienced head engineer. Rather than doing a reset or a quick fix the way that the last several repairmen had, he took the boiler apart and noticed not one, not two, not three, but SIX problems (two small cracks/leaks and two blockages caused by these leaks, plus a load of water in the bottom of the boiler and a load of corrosion). Basically, my boiler had been teetering on the edge of breaking down for a long, long time and needed to be almost completely rebuilt.

It took the engineer FIVE DAYS - Tuesday to Friday, with another full day on Monday and the help of another engineer - to get the boiler rebuilt and my central heating and water working the way they should. Despite only having heat and hot water intermittently, and despite the large man making scary banging noises in the loft, I was surprised to find that I felt better last week than I had in months and months. I wondered if maybe it was the cold, and if perhaps I should try keeping the thermostat turned off from now on. Wearing leggings under my trousers, fingerless gloves, a hat and a fluffy shawl over my cardigan would be a small price to pay.

It wasn't until Friday that the engineer said something that really caught my attention. He told me that my boiler had likely been pumping out dangerous - in fact, fatal - levels of carbon monoxide, and that it was a very good thing the machine wasn't located in the kitchen, as boilers often are. Because the machine is located in the loft, the dangerous gases would mostly have been vented through the roof. However, my loft is incredibly drafty, and even quite a mild wind would probably blow some of those gases back into the house. With a bit of concern, he asked me: 'You don't go up there often, do you?'

The answer to that is no. But. But. In my bedroom there is an airing cupboard. The cupboard used to be hooked up to the old water heater tank and as a result, it has no ceiling - it opens directly up into the loft space. The engineer had a look, and then he spotted the fact that my bedroom window was open, even though my heating was off. He asked why. I explained to him that I always sleep with it open these days because I'd found that if I closed it, I ended up with an even worse headache than normal; I'd assumed because the room got too stuffy at night.

The engineer told me, very gently, that he didn't think it was because the room was getting too stuffy at night.

He reeled off a list of symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, fatigue, and inability to concentrate. Everything I had been suffering with since spring this year. He told me that I need to make a doctor's appointment, like... now.

Most likely version of events: small amounts of carbon monoxide were venting into my room through the airing cupboard, particularly at night because I generally have my bath or shower in the evening, meaning that's when the boiler is most heavily used. The amounts of the gas would vary depending on how much I was using the boiler generally - more if the weather was cold and the radiators automatically came on - and in which direction and how strongly the wind was blowing on the roof.

The fact that I kept my window open at night... well, it might not have actually saved my life, but it probably prevented me from getting a lot sicker than I already had been. And the fact that all the faults with the boiler that caused the carbon monoxide to reach such dangerous levels had also caused it to break down before we hit really cold weather, and I turned the heat up and began leaving it on during the night? That probably DID save my life.

So this is my Zolah-Land public service announcement. If you are having these symptoms and they persist, as mine did, for weeks or months at a time, and you find that you feel strangely better when you are away from home but that you get worse again when you return? For heaven's sake, get your heater or boiler or whatever checked. Please.

And get a carbon monoxide alarm and put it NEAR WHERE THE BOILER IS (I had one, but it was shoved on a shelf on my landing, in completely the wrong place to be useful). Although I obviously wasn't lucky to have a dangerously malfunctioning boiler that was pumping out high levels of poisonous gas, I was lucky that it was in the loft, that I mostly already slept with my window open, and that the boiler went wrong during summer months when I barely used my heating. You may not be that lucky. So just be careful.

And with that, we move onto happier things: STATIONERY. Check out my collection and weep, losers!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

STEP OUT OF THE PRIVILEGE BUBBLE

Hello my lovelies! No new post on this blog today, but here's a link to my guest post on the CBC Diversity Blog - Step Out of the Privilege Bubble. It's a shortened, updated version of this post, which in turn was a follow-up to this post, so you can refresh your memory about those, too, if you wanted. 

I'm delighted with the recent explosion in awareness on this topic - at The Zoë-Trope we (and by 'we' I mean me and my Dear Readers) have been talking about diversity and it's importance pretty much since the beginning (back in 2010, eek). Now we're part of a much bigger discussion that is finally taking place throughout the children's and YA book community and I feel very proud to be a part of that. I hope you do, too!

Have a lovely weekend, my duckies (it's almost here!) and read you next week.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A QUESTION OF JEDI MINDTRICKS

Hello, my lovelies! Happy Wednesday! Today's post is in answer to a reader question, but before I get started, I bring tidings of great joy! THE NAME OF THE BLADE has been nominated for the Teenreads.com Teen Choice Book of the Year 2014! Voting for the winner will run between now and the beginning of February next year, so if you've enjoyed the book and would like to see it get a little more attention head over here to the poll and voice your opinion (you can vote for up to five books, not just mine).

Also, any reviews for the US version of the book there on Amazon.com would be greatly, greatly appreciated. I know that's a pain for US Dear Readers who've already reviewed the UK version of the book, since those reviews *should* have been transferred across. But I emailed Amazon.com about it and their response was basically 'Meh'. So... it's down to us to do something about the lonely, four-review status of the book. I appreciate the readers who've already done so more than I can say. But I love you all anyway. Mwah!

Now onto today's question, which was left in the comments by Anon:
I had a quick question in which I'd like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Many thanks!
Anon, this is a problem I'm sure most writers and creative people have. I know that the fantastic YA writer Melinda Lo, for instance, needs to meditate for a short while each day before beginning work in order to centre herself. It's a little strange, because if you're anything like me you spend a lot of time doing regular day to day tasks - shopping, cleaning, walking the dog - with your brain just buzzing with your character's voices and bits of descriptions and actions you can't wait to write. But as soon as you actually sit down to do so? Suddenly your head is filled with the regular day to day tasks instead! Frustrating.

I've got an advantage because I have my Writing Cave, a teeny-tiny box room which is filled with books and a computer and pretty much nothing else. When I go in there my brain *knows* that we're about to get down to business and so I find it easier to clear my head and start work (sometimes I swear, as soon as I walk in I can feel my synapses give out a little sigh of relief). But on days when I'm stressed or tired or just not feeling all that creative, it can still be really tough to stop other thoughts from getting in the way of the words. So I do have a few strategies that I use to shove all that annoying real stuff out of the front of my head to make room for my story.

MUSIC: I'm a little more music obsessed than the average bear (although not as obsessed as the famous Maggie Stiefvater, whose eye-wateringly extensive playlists can be found all over her blog and Tumblr) and make multiple playlists for each book, and sometimes specific ones for each character or for important relationships or events. But you don't have to be a tunes-nerd to utilise the benefits of music to help you focus and get your head into a creative space! You don't even need to be one of those writers who listens to music as they work - I know plenty of people who can't stand it, but don't worry about that. That's not what we're doing here.

Set aside an afternoon to browse on Spotify or YouTube and find a song that really speaks to you - you know the kind I'm talking about, one that makes you stop whatever you're doing for a moment as soon as you hear the opening notes, that gives you a little shiver down your spine when it opens up. If it's a tune that relates in some way to your current book, that's great, but it doesn't have to be. It just needs to be a piece of music that speaks to you.

Download said piece of music and the next time you come to write, after your document or your notebook is open and you're ready to begin, stop - and play the song. Listen to it with your whole heart, feel it, let it move you. When it's finished, hopefully the buzzing thoughts will have calmed down a bit and you'll feel the stillness and inner quiet you need to start putting words down. 

PLANNING: Sometimes your head is full of anxiety and stress because you know the upcoming scene is really important and you're not sure you have the skills to pull it off. This worry can block the brain like nothing else, and before you know it your thoughts have gone off on a merry, procrastinating joy-ride, fixating on the cracks in the ceiling, the not-very-interesting thing you saw on TV last night, or your plans for great-aunt Miriam's birthday present next May: in short, ANYTHING but the thing you actually need to concentrate on.

At this point, whether you're an outliner or a pantser, a little bit of planning can really help. Not too much! Don't panic! Get a Post-It or the back of an envelope and a pencil and make yourself a little bullet-pointed list of three or five or ten things you need to accomplish in this scene. John and Beth argue/Beth storms out/John watches Beth from window and has revelation about feelings/John sees fireball fly over castle wall and immolate Beth/John screams in primal rage, turns into purple gorilla and smashes way out of window to destroy everyone. There!

You don't have to stick to this list of things - but by having defined what you're here to accomplish, you've sneakily slid your brain sideways into focus on the story in a no pressure sort of way. When  the list is finished, generally you feel calmer and better able to begin. 

TAKING THE PRESSURE OFF: Sometimes all the stars align right, the writing gods smile on you, you roll out of bed bright and early and find that you have a whole day or half day (or whatever) with nothing to do but write. No distractions, no worries, nothing else to accomplish. It's going to be amazing! You sit down. And you stare at the blank computer screen/page. And stare. And stare some more. AND NOTHING COMES OUT.

Why? Too much pressure! The idea of dedicating a whole day or several long hours in a row to nothing but writing feels exciting, but in practice it can often make your brain freeze up. So come at it a different way. Set your phone or your alarm to beep in half an hour or forty minutes and tell yourself that you need to write as many words as possible in that time. When you're done, you're done. The rest of the day is free. GO!

This might sound like the opposite of 'taking the pressure off' but it works really well. Now you have a short-term goal which is much less scary than 'spend the entire day creating deathless prose' and you don't have any time to hang around. It jumpstarts you creatively and you may find that you write a surprising amount for such a short period of time. You may also find that at the end of your thirty of forty minutes you're desperate to continue - which is fine - or that you're exhausted and happy to stop - also fine! Either way, you'll have accomplished much more than you would have if you'd spent two hours staring at your blank page before finally bursting into tears, fleeing to your favourite blankie, and curling into the fetal position. 

JUST RESIGN YOURSELF: Even with all these Jedi mindtricks, there are still times when your brain simply will not shut up and you cannot seem to get into the proper writing mood. You know that anything you write for at least the first twenty minutes is going to be rubbish.

So? Resign yourself to that and write anyway.

Just because the first few paragraphs or pages will need a lot of rewriting, that doesn't mean the rest of your work for the day won't be excellent and well-worth committing to the page. It doesn't mean you should waste hours fruitlessly trying to inspire yourself in increasingly bizarre ways, or give up completely, either. This is one of the first lessons that full-time writers learn: sometimes you just have to push through and write, even when you don't feel like it.

In almost every case, after half an hour or so, the effort to put words down loosens up my cramped creative brain and I start to feel happy and inspired after all. So what if it takes a page of dross to get me there? It's worth it!

I hope this helps, Anon! Read you next week, everyone :)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

JIGSAW PUZZLES

Hello, hello, hello, Dear Readers! Today is one of those days when I kind of wish I blogged on Tumblr, because they don't have to come up with blog titles; they can just post. There are no literal jigsaw puzzles involved in today's blog - sorry for the disappointment - but it seemed better than calling this post 'Random bits and pieces of stuff that's currently interesting or inspiring me maybe it will do the same for you kthnxbai'. So! A jigsaw puzzle of stuff for your delectation!

SOME FILMS I HAVE WATCHED:

I bought an armful of DVDs the other week. These included THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (sorry cynics, but I really loved it and cried buckets - recommended); CHEF (funny and entertaining although it didn't quite reach outstanding for me - something failed to gel); MALEFICENT (adored it - brilliant performances and a Feminist take on the fairytale, though the CGI was a bit distracting in places); EARTH TO ECHO (Charming, funny and affecting - will be sharing it with my nieces next time they visit); and BEGIN AGAIN (Probably not for younger Dear Readers, what with all the swearing, but fantastic nonetheless - a story about broken-hearted people healing themselves through friendship and art, and probably the film that CHEF was trying to be but didn't quite manage).

I also went to see MOCKINGJAY Part One and was, not surprisingly for anyone who knows how I feel about these books and films, blown away. It's certainly the darkest film so far - not a surprise, since the book takes grimness factor up to over 9000 - in terms of the characters and their arcs, and also visually, since we only see the neon-coloured Capitol in glimpses and most of the action takes place in an underground concrete bunker.

I've seen reviewers complaining about this, and longing for more fabulous Capitol scenes, but to me that misses the point somewhat. Or a lot, actually.

The whole point of the Capitol is that it's glittering beauty and excess distract the people from the horrors happening right under their noses. The people of the Capitol - mothers and father themselves - wholeheartedly embrace a form of entertainment where innocent children are made to fight each other to the death, and worship and adore the public face of the 'victors' while turning a blind eye to how these same children, having survived the games, are exploited, tortured and sold into sexual slavery for the amusement of President Snow. The future America depicted in this story is called Panem. This literally means 'bread' and comes from the saying 'Panem et Circences' - a phrase coined by a Roman Emperor which basically states that so long as the Roman people are given bread to eat and circuses to distract them, they will never rebel against the Empire. AND IT'S TRUE.

The Capitol have turned war - a calculatedly horrific kind of war, in which children murder each other while their families are forced to watch, helpless - into a GAME. They have turned it into a theatrical show so beautiful and spectacular and eye-catching that no one even realises it is a war at all. Not even US - you and me! - watching from our comfy theatre seats in the real world. How well I remember the cheer that went up from the other film-goers when, in THE HUNGER GAMES, first Clove and then Cato were killed. YAY! Underage kids who've been indoctrinated into believing their only choice in life is to fight to the death with other kids have been horribly killed! There's a real crowd-pleaser! 

Seriously?

To me, the point of this film was to strip away the carefully constructed veneer, the gorgeous costumes and sparkling lights and moving music, and show us the truth, that the 'Games' President Snow presides over *are* warfare, and always have been. But the grim darkness of this film was also marked by moments of piercing beauty which were all the more meaningful and lovely for their rarity - and their realness. Katniss and Gale stalking the deer through District 13's undisturbed woods and letting it live, the film crew sitting by the river in District 12 in the sunlight while the mockingjays called around them, Katniss's low, heartfelt voice singing 'The Hanging Tree' blending seamlessly into the voices of District 5 workers marching to war - to certain death - in order to destroy the dam that supplies the Capitol with power. Each one felt like a punch to the gut.

Go see it, but take tissues, and expect to leave feeling emotionally destroyed as only the best pieces of art can destroy you.

A PIECE OF WRITING SOFTWARE I HAVE RECENTLY DISCOVERED:

It's called Pacemaker, and I love it. We know about my disastrous history with NaNo, but this programme offers the chance to create a similar sort of schedule on a really individual basis, even down to marking certain specific dates off or deciding that you want to work with gradually increasing intensity. Check it out.

SOME SONGS I HAVE RECENTLY ENJOYED:

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A PEEK INSIDE THE NOTEBOOK...

Hello, my well-iced cupcakes! Sorry for my blogging absence last week. I'm afraid I caught two bugs one on top of the other and I pretty much lost the full seven days. I'm still recovering, but at least I feel mostly human now. That was my NaNo efforts out of the window, though. I think I've learned my lesson now that it's happened three times: the universe does not want me NaNoing. I can take a hint!

Today's post is one that I promised on Twitter to the delightful Dear Readers Jenni (@JuniperJungle) and Lucy (@ChooseYA) aaages ago, after I posted a screencap of part of the original page of notes I made back in 2010 when I first came up with most of my ideas for THE NAME OF THE BLADE. So here is me finally getting to it, half a month later.

I've mentioned on the blog before that I use a programme called OneNote - a sort of virtual notebook which lets you open up new pages and tabs and jam random notes all over the place in no particular order - to keep track of my messy, developing ideas as all the elements of a story start coalescing in my brain. It's not really the same as brainstorming. It's just jotting things down, actually, but it's better for me than a normal notebook (le gasp! No, I still love normal notebooks and my stationery fetish is intact, I'm not a pod person, honest!) because after writing the notes you can move them around, add things, take things away, change the size or colour, add hyperlinks or paste in reference pictures, and generally make a mess of the virtual page without *literally* making a mess of the page, as you would if you did this on paper.

For this reason, while showing you any of the actual notebooks I used to write the trilogy (nine of them!) wouldn't be very interesting because most of the pages are barely legible and all of them are a mess, showing you screencaps of my OneNote pages is not only possible but feasible. And since Lucy and Jenni assured me it would be fascinating... here we are.

 

This is a continuous screencap of my very first page of notes for THE NAME OF THE BLADE, written over the course of about four or five days of furious inspiration in 2010 - and then added to over the following year. As you will be able to see immediately if you've read any of the books, my original ideas were all over the place and many of them evolved or changed completely between starting to scribble down ideas and the book actually being written and then ending up on shelves.

For instance, if you look at that first double column of notes, you can see that in the beginning I was working on the assumption that this would be one book. So all the events that ended up being spread out over the course of TNI and DH are jammed together. And initially Rachel and Jack weren't sisters. Rachel was going to be a babysitter/au pair who got killed early on to underline the terrible threat of the Nekomata. But when Rachel appeared in the story - with her mild OCD, bossiness and common sense - she was far too good to be squandered that way. So she ended up getting her own viewpoint and storyline! Good going, Rach. There was also a bit of confusion about everyone's names that I'm a little puzzled by now...

However, some things - like the haiku which gave the series its individual book titles and guiding theme (that the powerful, passionate love mortals are able to feel within their finite lifetimes is terrifying and awe-inspiring even to such ancient forces as the ones surrounding them in this story) stayed exactly the same. I actually wrote the haiku within minutes of the idea of a warrior trapped in a sword appearing in my head - and as my ideas kept getting bigger and bigger, realising that there were three book titles in there was part of how I knew it was going to be a trilogy.

The blurred section, by the way, is a bunch of mythology stuff that's going to be revealed in the final book. And since no one but my editor and agent have read that yet, it didn't seem fair to splash it around and ruin things for everyone else. If any other notes up there seem like massive spoilers, they're probably things that I actually changed later on, so I've left them because they won't do any damage to your reading pleasure.

You can see down the right hand side that I have other pages for each individual book - which is where things get really detailed and spoilery. There's also one called THE NAME OF THE BLADE which was my series bible, so to speak, keeping track of who knew what when and all the little niggly details that I needed to remember. And finally there's one called The Name of Love, which is a short story in the universe that I've been working on intermittently.

Every book that I've worked on over the last few years has a notebook like this in OneNote. Since most of my books are standalone most of them have less tabs - but not all. For instance, #BaBBook has just as many tabs because I've been doing in depth research into Japanese flora and fauna and food and house construction and a host of other things, and I've got a mini-encyclopaedia filled with reference notes, pictures, and links.

I hope this was interesting to someone, anyway! Thanks for pushing me to post it, Jenni and Lucy! Read you later, my lovelies.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

NaNoWriMo. SORT OF.

Hello, oh lovely readers, and welcome back! As our blog title for the day suggests, this year I'm attempting to participate in NaNo. Sort of.

Due to all the personal and health issues I had this year I never got around to running or even attempting to do my own International Creative Writing Month (sorry, anyone who was looking forward to it!). In May and July, when I'd normally have set that up, I was just about managing twenty minutes or maybe half an hour of computer activity per day before a headache set in, and that was while wearing sunglasses. It just wasn't going to work. But I still feel bummed about it. So when I sent my edits for Frail Mortal Heart back a few days shy of the end of October, I thought - why not try NaNo this year?

I should... probably have known better than to do that, really?

Well anyway, I knew that I couldn't actually sign up to take part as an official NaNo-er because the book that I'm working on in November is the Beauty and the Beast retelling I talked about here, usually referred to on twitter as #BaBBook. I've already written a chunk of the book and that means it's not eligible to be a NaNo novel. But I did intend to stick to the rules otherwise and commit to writing a certain amount each day in order to get to a certain word total by the end of the month. My goal was to produce ten handwritten pages of notes six days a week, for a grand total of 240 pages by the end of the month (I didn't count the first Sunday of the month because I was spending that day with my nieces). That would significantly progress BaBBook and give me a shot at getting a first draft finished early next year. All good.

As usual, Fate, the Muses, and the Writing Gods laughed at this plan of mine. As soon as I opened my draft document to look at the chapters I'd already written (I'd planned to skim-read them to get myself back into the correct voice and mood) I began to get a sinking feeling. I hadn't looked at this piece of writing for a month, since I'd been focusing on the aforementioned edits for TNotB #3, and it seemed that the distance had thrown some serious problems with the opening of the novel into sharp relief. I'd been feeling pretty good about those chapters and now I definitely was not. They just weren't up to scratch at all.

Fine. OK. Don't panic. The first day was just going to have to be re-writing so that I could fix this and move on feeling confident. And I know that goes completely against the NaNoWriMo principle of pushing on regardless, but I just *couldn't* OK? I had to get my ducks in a row first because otherwise the very important section I needed to write next was going to be weakened by the feebleness of what came before.

So I put in what felt like a fruitful day's work revising those chapters and getting them up to a standard that felt solid enough for me to move on, and was feeling OK about things until I got to the end of the document and realised there were pages missing there. Pages I knew I had written. Nearly a full chapter. What was going on? Had I failed to save at the end of my last writing session a month ago or something or... or... Oh. My. GOD.

I had been working on the wrong version of the manuscript.

I have two computers now - a slim laptop that travels with me, and a heavy old PC replacement that lives in my Writing Cave. I also have a flashdrive which I ferry back and forth between them, updating whatever computer I'm using with the most recent version of #BaBBook. And obviously at the end of last month, I hadn't updated the file on the Writing Cave computer with the newer version from the flashdrive. No wonder those chapters hadn't seemed good enough. They were from the middle, not the end, of September.

ARGH.

The urge to trash the room, rock 'n' roll style, was definitely rising, but after a few moments of deep breathing and staring at the calming picture on my wall, I was able to get it together. There was nothing to be done but print out the pages that I had revised, update my computer using the flashdrive and then hastily leave the room in order to watch classic anime until the urge to sacrifice myself on the alter of an elder god and then rise again as a eldritch tentacled monster of vengeance had passed.

Today, then, has been spent looking closely at the correct version of #BaBBook and inputting quite a lot of the changes that I'd made to the older version of the book's opening onto that, since many of them are still good. Two days of NaNo (during which I should have written twenty new pages, remember) down and not much to show for them, except a slightly more polished version of the first few chapters. And also a strong feeling that the last chapter, which I wrote at the end of September, needs to go in the bin and be completely rethought because it just feels rushed and wrong. Dammit.

So. Hopefully I'll get on that tomorrow and manage to construct a lead-in to the next part of the book that feels right and works. And then Thursday, I will actually start NaNo. Right?

Right?

*Sigh*

Monday, 27 October 2014

FRAIL MORTAL HEART COVER REVEAL

Hello, hello, hello, my lovelies! This post was originally supposed to be for yesterday, but I've been miserably ill since Saturday and today's the first day that I could be bothered to do more than tap out 140 characters on Twitter. However, I think the under-lying fabulosity of the post kinda makes up for the delay, so I'm just going to go ahead and call it even (especially since even now I know that 99% of you are busily scrolling past my words to get to the shiny shiny cover reveal below, you impatient heathens, you).

So, anyway: The Name of the Blade Book Three - FRAIL MORTAL HEART. It haz a cover and it is beautimous, and since it was shared with the lovely guests - hey guys, it was amazing to meet you! - at the blogger tea at Walker Books on Saturday (wherein I made my second flying visit to our country's fine capital in as many weeks and picked up this weird bug which may have been down to the salmon sandwich I ate on the train, and that's a lesson for you, my children - if they don't have ham then just say no to train sandwiches) and there are slightly blurry, not-really-forbidden glimpses of it circulating all over Twitter, I've now got permission to rip away the veil of secrecy officially.

And yes, that was the longest sentence that's ever been written on this blog. Yes, I am doing it on purpose to mess with you, oh patient and rare 1% who are actually wading through all this before getting to the image. I love you, my babies! Never change!

Fine, fine, I'll shut up. Here it is!


It's coming right up, right next!


Well, just a bit further down.


And a little more.


Leeetle more.


Just a bit


Tiny bit.


Now!


Um. Yeah. Do I even need to describe the amount of flailing, squeeing and unbearable smugness that is emanating from Marriott Towers right now? No? I thought not. As I said at the blogger tea - my cover has a dragon on it. LIVE ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

Also, this:

Click to embiggen. Do it. DOOOO IIIIITTT.
That is my trilogy guys. It's *this close* to finished. And actually being serious for half a second here - I am so, so proud of Walker Books for once again kicking #racefail and whitewashing in the soft dangly bits and giving my books cover art that not only accurately reflects the ethnicity of the characters within, but celebrates it with an airpunch and a HELL YEAH WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS BABY. At my publisher they not only acknowledge that they need diverse books, they really and truly want them, and treat them with the respect they deserve. How awesome is that?

Thank you to Annalie (Wonder Editor) and Maria (Delightful Designer) and also Larry Rostant, the photographer (who doesn't have a nickname because I haven't met him so it seems like it would be taking a liberty) for making my dream covers a reality. Wow, guys. Just. Wow.

OK, before I go, a final reminder that I, along with amazing fellow YA authors Emma Pass and Kerry Drewery, will be at the Lincoln High Street Waterstone's this Wednesday doing a panel event - Heroines of Teen Lit - with readings, a Q&A, signing, and super special swag (although I'm not bringing sweeties this time because... well, I've been too ill to go and buy any. Sorry *Sad face*). No need to book tickets or ring ahead - just turn up at 6:30 and we will be delighted to see you! 
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