Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My 2013 in Review

January

After an almost 2-month hiatus (because I was in a major sulk and wanted to be back in Florida) I got back into writing my then-work-in-progress, the MS which would later become Blackfin Sky. At the time I was calling it Transparencies, though I think I always knew it would have to change. With fresh eyes, I realised I didn't hate it after all, and actually started to fall a little in love with Blackfin...

February...and March

Still drafting. Still falling.

April

Finished! And fully in love with it! I carried out the most whirl-windy editing of my life and then sent it out to two of my critique partners, and got their notes back super-fast. Another round of zippity edits, and I felt confident enough in the MS that I sent it out to my agent. (I would normally spend longer than this on the editing stage, but I think spending SO long on drafting and mulling had an impact here).

I also got a bit bored, now that I didn't have a MS to vex over, so I started a new blog schedule. It had fancy new posts and everything. (Spoiler: it lasted 6 months.)

May

My agent, Molly the Magnificent, helped me polish and rename Blackfin Sky, then took it out on sub.

June

There was interest. Then an offer. There was also possibly screaming and celebrating and dancing around running-man-style in my living room.

To try and keep my effervescent little brain occupied, I started mapping out a new MS

July

I got to announce my first book deal with Firefly Press! Then I got to announce my second book deal with Running Press Kids! And I may have lost my voice because SCREAMING!

I met with the editorial team at Firefly in late July, and they were absolutely lovely. On my way to meet them I trod on my own skirt (yeah, GRACEFUL) and tore a great big hole in my dress which I then had to staple back together using a stapler I'd loaned from a sympathetic waitress. It is possible I was a little flustered when I arrived at the meeting, and did a lot of big hand gestures.

When I was home and calm enough to string words together, I worked on my new WIP. That was not a lot.

August

I was invited to join a stellar group of debut authors at We Are One Four. I felt LOVED. I posted an INTRO.

I also suggested an excellent cover artist to the team at Firefly, not expecting for one moment that I'd get to have SHANE REBENSCHIED do my UK cover for Blackfin Sky. Cue more screaming when I saw the initial drafts of his artwork and fell in love with my own cover.

September

I finished the first draft of my new MS just as I got my very first Edit Letter. So I set my WIP aside and dived back into the crazy world of Blackfin...then turned in my first UK revision to Firefly a few weeks later.

[Edit: Because I am a scatterbrained idiot, I failed to mention this when I first posted...]

Bridget Shepherd, the most wonderful artist, CP and human being, drew this amazing picture of Sky from my novel.



October

A lot of neat stuff happened this month. I got a wonderful character sketch of Skylar from Blackfin Sky, drawn by the equally wonderful Sean P McConnell. I also teamed up with Chynna-Blue Scott, Julie Hutchings and a whole boatload of brilliant writers to take part in The Zombie Project (I even designed a logo for it, heh heh) and got my zombie on in short story form.

I scrapped my routine blogging schedule (real reason: I got bored with it.)

November

Off to World Fantasy Con in Brighton! I met a lot of cool writer folks and saw some great panels and listened to authors reading excerpts of their novels, and generally had a fantastic time. Also, I was thisclose to Neil Gaiman walking down the corridor. THISCLOSE. Naturally, I said not one single word.

I got my second Edit Letter - this one from Running Press Kids, and dived right back into Blackfin for the next 4 weeks.

Blackfin Sky's finished UK cover was announced, and suddenly my book was on Amazon and other sites for preorder in the UK! I cannot describe how weird and wonderful it is to see MY BOOK up there for people to buy.

December

I turned in my first round of edits to Running Press Kids - YAY! I also saw the first drafts of the US cover - HUZZAH!

I took part in the SantaCLASH series of short stories over on The Midnight Type, which meant tuning in to my inner Bridget Jones and writing chick lit for the very first time.

I held a giveaway when I reached 1500 twitter followers, and decided to give away 5 of my most-loved YA books of the year and a Hello Kitty pen. Share the joy and all that.

Right now I'm working on the 4th version of my new MS, and it's getting much darker and twistier. There's an overarching psychopathy to the cast of characters that I'm really excited about, and I'm maybe-possibly-perhaps thinking about pitching it as a series. Eep.

*****

So that's my 2013 in review, and I've got lots of cool stuff coming up that I'll be blogging about over the coming months. I hope you've had a great 2013 too!



Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Top 5 YA Reads of 2013 & Giveaway! - NOW CLOSED

I promised to do a giveaway if I reached 1500 followers before Christmas, and as I hit that number at some point last night, I am making good on my promise! Also, I think the Hello Kitty 10-colour pen I mentioned has caused such a stir on twitter that I'll be lynched if I back out now.

But I also wanted to write a post about my favourite YA reads of 2013 so I thought, why not combine the 2 things? 

Why not indeed.

It was so hard to choose which 5 books to put into the giveaway - there were so many awesome ones to choose from - but I wanted to give a good range of genres, so finally whittled it down.

SO. Here are my top 5 YA reads of 2013 - which you can win just by following me on twitter @el_kat and leaving a comment below! - plus a picture of the Hello Kitty pen so you can soak in the awesomeness. I'll choose one winner from the commenters this Saturday, 28th December at 8pm GMT. Open internationally. NOW CLOSED.

SKIN DEEP by Laura Jarratt

Ugly people don't have feelings. They're not like everyone else. They don't notice if you stare at them and turn away. And if they did notice, it wouldn't hurt them. They're not like real people. Or that's what I used to think. Before I learned...After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna is permanently scarred. She struggles to rebuild her life, but every stare in the street, every time she looks in the mirror, makes her want to retreat further from the world. Until she meets Ryan. Ryan's a traveller. When he and his mother moor their narrow boat on the outskirts of a village, she tells him this time it will be different. He doesn't believe her; he can't imagine why this place shouldn't be as unwelcoming as the rest. Until he meets Jenna. But as Jenna and Ryan grow closer, repercussions from the crash continue to reverberate through the community. And then a body is found...




THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo

"One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride..."

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim's handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.


SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.



ROCKOHOLIC by C. J. Skuse

She's got it bad, and he ain't good -- he's in her garage?

"I'm your biggest fan, I'll follow you until you love me..." 

Gonna have to face it: Jody's addicted to Jackson Gatlin, frontman of The Regulators, and after her best bud Mac scores tickets, she's front and center at his sold-out concert. But when she gets mashed in the moshpit and bodysurfs backstage, she's got more than a mild concussion to deal with. By the next morning, the strung-out rock star is coming down in her garage. Jody -- oops -- kind of kidnapped him. By accident. With a Curly Wurly candy bar. And now he doesn't want to leave. 

It's a rock-star abduction worthy of an MTV reality series...but who got punk'd?!



THE KILLING WOODS by Lucy Christopher

Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

A new psychological thriller from the award-winning and bestselling author of STOLEN and FLYAWAY.


(Blurbs and cover images all nicked from Goodreads.)





Don't forget: You can win all these fab books - plus the 10-colour Hello Kitty pen! - by following me on twitter @el_kat and leaving a comment below. Please leave your twitter handle with your comment (so I can let you know if you win.) One winner will be chosen at random on Saturday, 28th December at 8pm GMT. NOW CLOSED.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Cover Reveal: WHERE YOU'LL FIND ME by Erin Fletcher


Today Erin Fletcher and Entangled Teen are revealing the cover for WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME, releasing in early 2014! I had the very great privilege of reading an earlier version of this book, and trust me - it is STUNNING. One of my all-time-favourite contemporaries, that I can't wait to read again in its final edition.

Check out the gorgeous cover, exclusive excerpt, and enter to win an eARC!


When Hanley Helton discovers a boy living in her garage, she knows she should kick him out. But Nate is too charming to be dangerous. He just needs a place to get away, which Hanley understands. Her own escape methods—vodka, black hair dye, and pretending the past didn't happen—are more traditional, but who is she to judge?

Nate doesn't tell her why he's in her garage, and she doesn't tell him what she's running from. Soon, Hanley¹s trading her late-night escapades for all-night conversations and stolen kisses. But when Nate¹s recognized as the missing teen from the news, Hanley isn't sure which is worse: that she's harboring a fugitive, or that she's in love with one.







Exclusive Excerpt

Nate looks me over, from my jacket to my favorite pair of jeans, to the shoes that are bonfire-worthy but still cute. My hair, with the help of a straightener, is so silky that my dark bangs fall into my eyes even more than usual. My eye makeup is amped up. Whether all of this is because of the bonfire or because of who I hoped I’d run into before leaving is open for debate. He reaches up and brushes my bangs away from my face. The split-second touch makes me crave more. “You look gorgeous.”

“Thank you.”

“Where are you headed?”

Though staying here in the garage might be a better option, I say, “A bonfire.”

Nate studies me again, but this time it feels like he’s looking for something deeper. “Don’t you ever get tired of sneaking out?”

“Not really,” I say with a shrug.

He tugs on the zipper of my fleece, lowering it slightly and pulling me closer. “What are you running from, Hanley?”

It feels like my secrets are written all over my face, but I say, “Nothing.”

When he smiles, it’s almost sad. “I don’t buy it.”

I lean in, putting both hands on the car behind him, one on either side, trapping him. “You tell me why you’re living in my garage and I’ll tell you what I’m running from.”

He gives a sly smile and doesn’t budge. “Secrets it is.”

“Secrets it is,” I echo. And even though the small space between us is electric and threatening to disappear, I push off the car and step away. “I’ll see you later,” I say as I open the door.

“Hanley,” he says before I can get too far. “Be careful out there, okay?”

I don’t make any promises.


About Erin:

Erin Fletcher is a morning person who does most of her writing before sunrise while drinking excessive quantities of coffee, believes flip-flops qualify as year-round footwear, and would spend every day at the beach if she could. She has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics (which is almost never useful when writing books) and lives in North Carolina.

You can visit Erin on her website and on Twitter.


Giveaway:

1 eARC of WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME - International!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The beginning of Blackfin Sky...


My UK publisher, Firefly Press, have launched their brand new website - and on it you'll find an excerpt from the very beginning of my book!

Check it out here, and take a look around the rest of the site - there's lots coming up from Firefly Press!



Monday, 16 December 2013

Unmissable 2014 Debuts

I started getting really excited recently when I realised how many writer friends have unmissable debuts coming out in 2014 (which is SOOOO SOON!) I decided I'd better make a list to keep track of them. I know, scatty Kat. Still, as I was rocking the listiness, I figured I'd do you all a solid and publish my list of Unmissable 2014 Debuts right here.

These are just the ones by folks I know from twitter and elsewhere in the webosphere, and while I think this is a magnificent list, I recognise my shortcomings in not knowing/remembering everything (shocker!) so if you'd like to add to this list please feel free - that's what the comments box is for. Now, on with the awesomeness...

Young Adult

Where You'll Find Me by Erin Fletcher

Extraction by Stephanie Diaz

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke

Between by Megan Whitmer

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

The Gateway Through Which They Came by Heather Marie

Hexed by Michelle Krys

The Elite by Maggie Hall

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Banished by Liz de Jager




Middle Grade

Eren by Simon P Clark

There Will Be Bears by Ryan Gebhart

Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz

There are also a whole bunch of books coming out in 2015 which I just can't wait to get my grubby hands on either...but that's a list for another day. In the meantime, go ahead and treat yourself to a little festive Goodreadsing and pre-ordering. I've linkified the list for your blurb-reading pleasure.

For now...

Kat out x

Sunday, 8 December 2013

My SantaCLASH Story: A Very Minty Christmas



In case you haven't seen my tweets about this, I recently signed up to take part in SantaCLASH - a short story blog series organised by the wonderful Chynna-Blue Scott, where every day from 1st December a short story is posted over at The Midnight Type. The twist? Each author has to write their festive short story in a genre they've never tackled before.

Here's where you can find the master post, with all the stories listed in order.

And please do take a look at mine - a chick lit offering (I know, right???) called A Very Minty Christmas.

Kat out x