Out and about today for some shopping at the shopping center (they aren’t called malls over here) but brought my laptop so I could get some writing done as well.
Kept thinking of lots of things for the book all night so trying to get them down before I forget. And so I can hopefully sleep better tonight
When you’re young, time seems to pass so slowly. Summers took forever. A school day? Eons. Sitting for an exam? A lifetime in an hour. But the older you get, the faster time goes by.
Case in point…it’s November. Dude. When did that happen? Oh, I know what happened. I generally take summers off (basically, if Max is off school, I am spending my time with him and not in front of my laptop) and then there’s the madness of getting ready for school time again and…and, you know, all the things.
There are always things. Stuff to do. Days bleed into one another to where you can’t remember where one ends and another begins. The hardest thing in the world to do is to remember to stop and appreciate where you are and be in the moment (I know that sounds all New age-y, forgive me).
This past month I have been taking a breath, stopping and looking around and fitting myself back into the world. And I’m really excited, for the first time in ages.
Me and Tracey Mathias, one of my writing buddies, at our “office” today at the National Theatre along Southbank. Yes, I would have worn more makeup if I’d realised I was going to take a picture. And yes, we are fueled on caffeine.
Firstly…I’ve given up on the adult crime fiction book. It was killing me. You know that old saying about how writing is like pouring your own blood on the page? I was drained dry. A starving vampire would have walked right by me without a second look. That’s not to say I’ve given up on that character or that story. I’ve just realised (look at me using the UK spellings!!) that my voice is quite firmly fixed in Young Adult (or Middle Grade), maybe up to New Adult. After some time away, I’m planning on re-working it with a younger (still very snarky) version of my anti-heroine.
Secondly, I’ve picked up one of my middle grade ideas and I’m working on it (code name: Maxtorious). And, for the first time in months and months, the writing isn’t painful. I’m having fun again.
It’s a fantasy. There are Imaginary Friends. And pet dust mice. And, somehow, chocolate is going to help save the day. Seriously, you guys, I’m excited to be writing again and doubly so because this is a book my little man Max will be able to read. In fact, the main character is named after him. He’s quite chuffed, as they say here.
Thirdly, other exciting things that I am not able to talk about at all yet. So plllbbbbbt. You’ll have to wait and see.
That’s a very good question. What have I been up to? I’ve being essentially holding radio silence (which is such a dated reference, but hey…I’m old) here on my blog. That’s not to say that I haven’t been busy. A lot of days I don’t know where the time goes (okay, let’s be honest…EVERY day is like that).
Max, who is now seven (SEVEN!!!!), takes up a goodly chunk of my time, and rightly so. He’ll only be the him that he is now, right now.
Don’t think about that sentence too much. I think you know what I mean.
I’ve also been working on a book for adults. Crime Fiction. Female Hit Man. Hit Woman? Snarky. Bloody. Etc. It’s coming along. Slower than I’d like, but I’ve also thrown more words out on this book than I have on any other book. Ever. Hopefully that means it’ll also be the best one so far. Crossing my fingers on that.
Have also been creating. Like magical Harry Potter-style wands. Funky Steampunk guns and stuff. Things to decorate your hair. I’ve even opened an Etsy shop called Magical Miscellany (well, I’m trying it out…no sales yet, but giving it a shot because a) I love to create things and b) I need money to buy more paint. Ahem.) Also jewellery, though I’m not quite ready to share pictures of that yet (but they are cool!).
I hadn’t realised how much I’ve missed painting. I used to paint quite a bit. There’s a story in that, actually…growing up, my parents traveled around to arts & craft shows. My mom painted and my dad did wood work. As a teenager, more than anything I wanted a “normal” job with steady income and stability. And I had that for a number of years after university…and realised that it didn’t make me happy. Not at all. In fact, quite the opposite. And so I quit to write and kissed a steady income goodbye but became a lot happier. I don’t make even a fraction of what I used to make before but I am loads happier. And now I find myself picking up old hobbies (i.e. more things I enjoy but that don’t actually earn any income) again. I suppose I’ve come full circle. I’m happiest when I am making things. Though I would like to sell enough to support the habit, I suppose (that goes with books too). Please do check out my Etsy shop or follow me on Instagram. It makes me happy when people like the stuff I make (Max and I are SO going to have awesome costumes for this year’s Comic Con!).
Back to the writing stuff…I have also been thinking about the future of the Sucks to Be Me series…specifically of book three. Have nearly reached a decision on that, so stay tuned. And thank you to everyone who keeps asking about what’s going on with Mina. I really appreciate that you guys love her so much and want to know how her story ends up.
And…now Summer is about to start (it’s year-round school over here in the UK, but Max gets out tomorrow and won’t be going back until September), so there will soon be lots of craziness going around. Epic craziness, as I’m sure Max would say.
I will try to be better about posting here. There’s been reasons and all that, but no excuses, I will make more of an effort to keep this site up to date. Promise. Pinky promise.
So, this is what my poor laptop sees all day.
At least, that is, when it isn’t watching me pull my hair out, head in my hands. Or when I’m staring off into space looking like I’m not doing anything at all. Or furiously typing away (which is when I imagine my laptop thinking what did I ever do to you to be treated this way??)
I’m working on Hildie (which is the only title I have as yet for the adult crime-fiction-y noir-ish book I’ve been working on). Today I’m out at the cafe in the super-sized Foyle’s bookstore at Charing Cross. I’ve been touring London with my writing group — we pick a pub or cafe or whatever to go work at in different parts of the city. It gets me out of the house and exploring.
I actually rather liked the old Foyle’s before they moved to their current location, but it’s still quite nice and arguably the biggest bookstore in London (if there’s a bigger one, I don’t know where it is). Nothing wrong with being surrounded by books.
So, wondering how the book is going? Some people have been getting on me for how utterly useless I’ve been at keeping my blog updated, so I’m trying to be good and er, you know, actually communicate a little more. So, hiya! How are you? Hope you’ve been well.
Last year was a bit of a wash as far as writing goes. I was working on Hildie (when I wasn’t dealing with family stuff or health issues) but it was a bit like slogging through mud. Actually, more like being stuck in a time loop where I kept going over the same bit over and over because it just wasn’t working. Then I finally realised that I was making things too complicated and trying to be too clever. Smooshing things in that really didn’t add anything to the story. No wonder it was like quicksand.
So once January hit, I went back and re-did my outline. I’ve thrown out a good chunk of what I wrote (ouch) and now things are back on track. That’s not to say it’s easy. This is my first novel intended for adults and I have a tendency to second guess myself sometimes (I think that’s called “being a writer”). But I am happier with it now and I can see that fabled light at the end of the tunnel. Er, not the end of the book…that’s a ways away…but the fact that I. Will. Get. There.
Can’t wait to tell you more about it. I’ve just gotta keep pushing myself deeper and darker and weirder and, well, bloodier.
I will leave you with the opening of the book. Consider it a tease. Hildie is a bit of a tease herself anyway…she’s just built that way.
The junkie slouched against the broken streetlight gave me an exaggerated once over and whistled. I must have looked like easy prey with my too-high heels, my too-short black dress, and velvet clutch purse. He probably thought I was a high-class hooker on the way back from a job.
And I was on my way back from a job, just not the kind he was thinking. He’d clearly missed the blood spots on my outfit, but that was the beauty of the basic black dress. It was a very forgiving color.
So, if you didn’t know, one of the things authors get when their books release are a number (determined by contract) of author copies of their books. I’ve got 37 copies of the brand spanking new paperback version of ASK ME due me (it releases on 20th January!!). And I thought, hey, I’d like to give those away to YOU. Because you are AWESOME. And I’m cool like that.
Consider it a birthday present to myself. Indeed, the contest will close on my birthday (January 24th and no, you may not ask how old I am), so enter SOON and please pass it on in the usual places (Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, wherever you like to hang out, scribbled on the bathroom wall…whatever).
WHAT: 37 paperback copies of ASK ME + signed bookplate + bookmark(s)
STARTS: 13 January 2015
ENDS: 24 January 2015 (My birthday!)
WHERE: US only
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite (favourite) holidays. It’s strange living in the UK where it isn’t celebrated — Max is off at school and Tony is off at work and tonight we have the school Christmas Party to go to.
We had our big dinner on Sunday while Tony’s mom was visiting and had one of my D&D friends over as well (last minute…thanks for coming on such short notice Nick!). That’s what you do — you keep your traditions as best you can and create new ones too. Maybe we’ll finally figure out what Boxing Day is about this year.
And I am thankful this year. There are lots of things to NOT be thankful over (the news is full of them), as is life, but I’m trying to concentrate on the good things. The bad stuff is always out there, but there’s lots of good too.
I am thankful for Tony and The Max, my lovely, quirky little family. And even our dog Marley, who is terrified of his new dog flap.
I am thankful for all the people who have read my books and who email me asking for more. I am thankful that I have lots of story ideas in my head and that I can keep writing them down.
I am thankful that, health issues withstanding, my extended family is doing pretty well, growing up, getting born (hello, little E!), moving on, and generally trucking along.
I am thankful for good food and friends and silliness. Sunshine after a string of rainy days. Smiles on stranger’s faces. Kindness. Joy. Giggles. Chocolate. Good movies. Inside jokes. Random acts of awesomeness.
May your Thanksgiving (whether it’s something you celebrate as a holiday or just try to live out in your life) be a wonderful one and may you always find something to be thankful for.
If you’ve read Ask Me already (and if not, um…why not??) you’ll know that music is HUGELY important to Aria (the main character…seriously, get reading…). Each chapter starts with a song, a couple of which have lyrics as well*. One of those is the chapter titled Candy Case, which is a song by Last Summer. They rock. Seriously.
And the guys in the band were cool enough to put together a new music video for the song with a cameo for Ask Me! How cool is that?
So, spread the word and the video. Honestly, as many times as I’ve heard the song (and all the others), I can’t believe I still love it. I had Aria’s playlist on repeat the entire time I was writing and revising the book. I know ALL the words. Trust me.
Here’s an extra tidbit for you…Aria is from Michigan originally and transplanted to Florida. Why Michigan? Heck, I’ve never even been there. Well, because that’s where Last Summer is from. They’re not a huge band (yet–they totally should be) and I wanted to include that song for Aria, but also wanted a reason for her to have heard of them even though she lives way down in Florida. So that’s why she’s from Michigan.
From the book:
I was born in Michigan, in the cold and the snow, but four years here had made me a child of the heat. I did not miss the cold or the brittle stares of the girls who had once been my friends, before my gift had turned them against me. Who wants a friend who only speaks the truth?
* Want an insight into the publishing process? Originally, each chapter was supposed to have a lyric as well as a song title and the advance copies did. My editor thought we could go with the “10 words or less” rule for quoting lyrics. For those that I needed more than 10 words, I tried contacting the bands or appropriate people to get permission (like Last Summer and Boys Like Girls). Some of them I found absolutely impossible to track down (like The Pierces…I gave up after getting passed around to 5 different people, with no one being able to help me). Then right at the end, after further reviewing potential legal ramifications, my publisher decided it would be safer to not use any lyrics we didn’t have explicit permission for, no matter the word count. There wasn’t time to try and track down any more rights holders and that’s why only a couple of chapters have lyrics now and most are just song titles. Hopefully I’ll be able to track down some more for the paperback version due out next year because, I tell ya’, I spent HOURS picking out the appropriate lyrics for each chapter! I’d really love to be able to use them!
It’s officially out now on the Booklist website, so I am very, very pleased to report that ASK ME received a starred review! My first ever starred review, in fact! I can’t even tell you how honored and excited I am about that.
A real page-turner that will have readers thinking that they know the killer and then changing their minds, leaving them wondering right up until the end… A dark mystery featuring a unique heroine.
—Booklist, ☆ Starred Review
For real. *dies*
Have you bought YOUR copy yet? I’d love to know what you think about the book. And I’d seriously love and appreciate it if you take the time to review the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Goodreads or the website of your choice…or tell a friend about it. That stuff makes a HUGE difference in getting the word out. Seriously.
And thank you to the people who have tweeted or Facebooked (is that a word?) me pictures of you with the book. I absolutely LOVE seeing them!
Are you a librarian? Teacher? Book club? Writing Group? As a special limited time only promotion (from now until the end of May), if you book a free Skype chat with me, you’ll also get a free copy of Ask Me.
My author copies arrived!
Yep. Free. Freeeeeeeeee.
The Skype can be scheduled for any time in the next six months, but you’ll need to book it by the end of May 2014. So get on it, people! I can’t wait to talk to you!
By the way, as with all my Skypes, you also get a swag pack afterwards which includes bookmarks, temporary tattoos, and personalized, signed bookplates to any of the participants who want one. This is one of the only way to get signed bookplates from me now, as I no longer just mail them out any time due to postage costs from the UK to the US. So, bonus! Yay!
And remember, you can Ask Me Anything!
Woot! My latest book has now been released into the wild!
Though I haven’t actually seen it yet. My copies got sent to my agent’s office in New York and they are forwarding them to me. SO I HAVEN’T SEEN MY NEW BOOK BABY YET. Have YOU seen it? Can you take a picture? I feel like a new Mommy with a baby I haven’t yet seen. Is it pretty? Does it have all the fingers and toes it is supposed to have?
So, yeah, if you happen to go to a bookstore, please snap a picture for me. Or, you know, buy one and then take a picture of you with it. That would make me even happier, to know that my baby got adopted right away.
I’ve been super busy writing up all the guest blogs and answering interview questions and making up playlists for the official ASK ME blog tour. My brain, actually, feels rather like it belongs in a Salvador Dali painting. One interview is okay. Two, you start wondering why anyone wants to know anything about you. By the fifth one, you’re not sure who you are anymore.
If you want to keep up with all the posts and learn everything from who I would cast as Aria to what symbolism I shoved into the book or even whether or not there’s a love triangle in there or not, be sure to check the About the Book page on the Ask Me website every day as I’ll be posting links to all the stuff as it goes live.
And lastly, if you do buy the book, THANK YOU. I give you virtual hugs and many thanks. And I remind you very gently and with great humility to pretty please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads or Barnes and Noble or with the bookstore of your choice. That stuff truly does help. Every single sale counts, every single review does too. Thank you, thank you, thank you again.
And now I shall get back to incessantly checking my front door to see if I any delivery people have knocked or left a package slip…
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