Long time no blog!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014, 11:56 | Category : books, edits, fairy tales, movies, teen wolf, TV shows, writing
Tags : ,

I am so sorry that I’ve not been to blog – last time was over two months ago in APRIL.  Holy smokes, where does the time go?

What have I been up to?

Well: there was another edit of Vowed with my editor Bella, then we did a copy edit with the copy editor (copy editors are the best, true story) and in the meantime I got stuck into book 3 and am writing all the words (sitting on around 30k words).  Page proofs are coming up for Vowed in the next week or so, so writing will take a back-burner for about two weeks.

Then straight back into writing book three which is exciting and sad because I’ve put these characters through the ringer and really, all I want to do is hug them and pet them and make shushing noises and tell them everything’s going to be okay.  But you know, I can’t, because book 3 is <REDACTED> but there’s also <REDACTED> because of what happens in Vowed and I’m so sorry, I hope you’ll forgive me.  I’ve had a beta-reader (Jenni!) read the first 26k of book 3 and apparently it has feels and she’s worried about everyone, so that’s great, because it’s the right reaction.

Anyway.

Stuff I’ve been watching / going to see before falling into writing all the words:

1. America: Winter Soldier

I’ve fallen, or rather re-fallen in love with Steve and with Bucky and Natasha and Sam so hard.  I’ve subsequently gone, in true fan-girl fashion and spent money on Funko Pop figures and the art of the movie book.  Because really, who needs money for food and rent, right?  Also, I possibly may have seen the movie more than once. *coff* I also have the comics and have been re-reading them and well, Ed Brubaker <3

Proof of obsession:

Natasha and Bucky

Captain and Bucky

Captain america

2. Hannibal:

This show. I can’t even begin to cover how much I love this show. It’s dark, it’s packed full of meta and I love it utterly.  Basically: Brian Fuller is an evil genius and I want his brain.  Yes, there are levels of violence / gore that will put some people off but it’s the characterisation of Will Graham, Hannibal and Jack Crawford that’s so important here.

Hannibal - Season 2

Picture courtesy of http://www.nbc.com/hannibal

The sets are designed with minute detail as is everything about the show.  For instance, something I noticed is how Hannibal’s suits hanged throughout Season 1 and Season 2.  They are sartorial elegance, always, but the designer has been so clever choosing the colours he wears so that it enhances each scene – he (both designer and Hannibal as character)  literally uses his suits to foreshadow his actions, going from lighter themes to darker.  Maybe this is just me seeing stuff where there isn’t anything, but in my headcanon, this makes complete sense.

3.  Game of Thrones:

I am in an abusive relationship with GoT.  Last week bad things happened to Oberyn Martel (I know, I’ve read the book, I was supposed to be prepared, I wasn’t) and I sobbed.  This is a sign of creators doing it properly: taking a secondary character and lifting them from the background and making them real and having readers and viewers identify and feel for them.  I hate them for doing that to me.   Last night’s episode bad things happened. I hate them for doing that to me. But I was ready.  I still cried.  Thank the heavens the season finishes next week.

3. The 100

The-100-cast-season-one

This show is eventually coming to the UK after it doing great things Stateside. I’m very excited about it.  The core concept is:

Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.

The above is taken from IMDB – trailer below

http://youtu.be/ia1Fbg96vL0

What makes The 100 such an interesting show is (bypass the ridiculously attractive cast) the fact that we get to see what happens to the one hundred who made it down to earth…but we also learn about those left behind on the spaceship.  And none of it is passive watching either – people have emotions and thoughts and they all do what they think is best, for various convoluted reasons.  Again, it shows that the writers are doing it right.  There are characters you hate, characters you love and characters who are so bad it breaks your heart because you want them to redeem themselves but then stuff happens and there’s explosions and kissing and death, so much death, and threat and well.  I can’t wait to own this series on DVD.  Again: really pleased we’re getting it in the UK and unlike Star-Crossed (politically heavy show about aliens on earth) it got a renew for Season 2.  So hurrah to Akela Cooper and her team of writers.  You guys are ace.

4. Teenwolf 

Teen Wolf - Season 4 - Cast Group Promotional Photo

Yes, I’m still fangirling about Teenwolf.  Season four starts in less than two weeks. I am not ready.  I am totally ready.  Sadly for the UK we never got to see Season 3 on our tv screens BUT iTunes bought it so you can rent / buy it through them which is something at least.  I think it’s a shame that it’s not being shown in the UK as it has a massive following with supremely dedicated fans.  The characters are great, the storylines are great and the fact that they delve into little known myths and lore, and not just Western myths and lore, makes such a superb change from the usual fare.  The cast has ridiculously pretty people but it also has a solid team of strong female characters who are so great and who hold their own when it comes to the intelligence and kick-ass stakes.  I’m totally Team Lydia who, if fandom is correct, will one day take over the world and rule it as our benevolent queen. I can get down with that.

So Teenwolf and The 100 are two great shows that get a lot of flack from haters – in the end, I do think viewers should give them a chance and try to go into watching these shows without prejudice – suspend your disbelief and have fun.  That’s what you’re supposed to do when you want to be entertained.  There’s a reason the studios are making these shows and I’m very grateful to them and all involved because they are fun and entertaining!

***

I’ve also been reading a lot during my commute.  I’ve been tackling a lot of my research books for the Blackhart series but I’ve also been reading a lot of fun contemporary romance.  My favourites at the moment:

Anna and the French Kiss 

Lola and the Boy Next Door 

So much love for these two books.  My fear, always, when I start a contemp romance is that the heroine will be someone I can’t relate to.  In both Lola and Anna the books are very much about them and it’s character driven stories where the romance feels natural and part of the bigger scheme of things.  So much love.  *kisses the books because they are lovely*

 

Dark Hollow

I’ve also been reading John Connolly. More people need to read John Connolly, okay? Listen! No, seriously, listen: John Connolly writes crime, okay…but crime that makes you feel like you should check your back often, not necessarily because someone’s there to stab you or shoot you (that happens too) but because there’s bits of his books that veer into the HELLISHLY creepy and supernatural and it gives me shivers.  He has a turn of phrase that sometimes just punches you in the gut and leaves you reeling.  I remember reading Every Dead Thing and freaking out because it managed to get under my skin so much, but especially when Charlie Parker (our main character) experiences this really peculiar incident whilst on a plane (the least supernaturally freaky place ever) and it left my mind going: wut? In Dark Hollow, page 55 of the pb, just…it’s far better than Stephen King at his creepiest, trust me.  And then there’s this one scene in Dark Hollow on the train and I actually had to put the book down for a few seconds because I went through both blind panic but also feels.  Man, that’s hard to do.  Just really, pick up John Connolly’s books.  You won’t be sorry.  Also: he’s a really nice guy.  The bastard.

I think that’s it for now.  Obviously I can spend more time wittering on about going to the movies and seeing more stuff and reading more books, but really, this is the core of it.  Oh, and one more thing: DO go to the Natural History Museum for their fantastic Mammoths: Ice Age Giants exhibition because it is fantastic.  I’ll leave you with this snarly picture from their website because it’s aces.  And snarly.

events

 

Achievement Unlocked: Edits Book 2 – Vowed

Wednesday, 2 April 2014, 9:36 | Category : books, edits, process, writing
Tags :

I’ve gone a bit awol on the blog after my previous post back in March – huge apologies for that!

However:

AchievementUnlocked

Because just yesterday (Monday 31st March) I sent back the edits on Vowed (Book 2 in the Blackhart Legacy trilogy) and I thought I’d show you guys what those looked like.  Here are a few screenshots of the minimised pages.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 22.35.52

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 22.35.12

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 22.35.01

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 22.34.47

There are a lot of pages. A. Lot. I lost the will to live trying to screenshot the rest as this blogpost would have been even longerer.

I know there are stats freaks amongst some of you, so thought I’d do a bit of a breakdown:

  • Date I started writing Vowed: 1st July 2013.
  • Book delivered: 2 December 2013
  • Word count when I sent it to my editor in December 2013: 121,700
  • Edits received from my editor: 6th March 2014
  • Book edits delivered: 31st March 2014
  • Word count when I sent it back to my editor March 2014: 132,800

There were six pages of editorial notes, none of them were structural. A lot of it was really plugging logic gaps, world building, character development and super interesting stuff like that.

So doing edits aren’t ever a cake-walk although I do think I’m quite blessed because my editor, Bella, knows how to handle me and she’s got steady hands.  We had lunch before she sent me the edits and we talked through quite a bit of my concerns about Vowed, stuff I knew in my head and heart that needed fixing, stuff I suspected I had screwed up. She put so many fears to rest but then she was also quite systematic in taking me through things that she had issues with and no great surprise, the majority of our concerns matched. So phew! We were on the same page.

We also confronted my genuine blind terror about tackling book 3 because well, a lot of stuff happens in Vowed and it needs to be tidied up in Book 3 in a satisfactory and yet entertaining way and of course, my brain shut down because how do I even do that?! *flails*

I took last week off work to finish the edits as I realised that fitting them around my full working days just wouldn’t cut it and it was actually an incredibly liberating experience; popping the massive playlists on, making the tea and just getting stuck in without having to worry about anything else.  Oh, and there may have been some ugly dancing too and absolutely no judging from my dog. None.

IMG_0473

He totally judged me.

Friday I visited The Markettiers folks along with two other PanMac authors, Matt Cain, author of Shot Through the Heart, and Clare Donoghue, author of Never Look Back to do a thing called Book Break hosted by Alexandra Heminsley (Running Like a Girl) and it was such a mad and fun experience.  The video they filmed will be live this Friday so I’ll be linking to that too.

The weekend I was fully back into editing mode and had a complete and utter nervous breakdown at around 9pm on Saturday night because OMG Word decided to crash and hadn’t backed up in over 2 hours so I lost TWO HOURS OF EDITS and I practically lost the will to live right then.  But, the judicious ordering of Chinese takeaway (hmm, gyoza!) saw me through my stress-levels and I finished at around 2a.m. Sunday morning. Book 2, the book that would never end, got itself edited. I spent Sunday in a sort of daze and constantly doubted that I had done it and kept checking dropbox to make sure I didn’t hallucinate it.  But it was there. And then I sent it out to Bella yesterday and suddenly…what do I do now?

Here’s the plan: watch every movie / read every book / watch every tv episode of every tv show we’ve got recorded and then fall into writing book 3…but only after I write a short story featuring a great new character I introduce in Vowed. His name is Dante Alexander and well, he gives poor Kit some serious grief.  Bella and I love Dante and we think you guys will too.  The short story will be up nearer release of Vowed (which for everyone asking me, is November 2014) just so you guys can get a taster of Dante-shaped fun.

I’ll probably start Book 3 around the 14th of April because I’m itching to get back into it but I’m forcing myself to have time away from the Blackharts, for my own sanity, just for a tiny bit!

Hope you guys’ve enjoyed the ramble and the stats.  I’ll try and keep better records with Book 3 but I find it hard to figure out word-counts as I do them each day (3 to 4 different writing sessions) as it gets complicated.  But really, I’m a sucker for stuff like that myself.

Geek and proud! :D

Launch, comp news, edit news!

Friday, 7 March 2014, 12:59 | Category : agent, books, Events, writing
Tags : , , , , ,

Last week Friday I was like this, basically, for most of the day. 

Because Thursday had been the amazingly fantastic well attended noisy fun crazy loud launch for Banished in the Gallery at Foyles and I am not used to:

  • Socialising
  • Staying awake with people till after midnight
  • Talking
  • Laughing
  • Being an outside talking person (most of the talking happens inside my head)

It was huge amounts of fun though.  We had cookies.  And popcorn.  There was wine and books and people and talking and I felt like a rockstar basically.

Some pics (nabbed off my agent Juliet’s FB page!)

Window

Window display at Foyles

Banished table

Cookies and popcorn!

Team Liz

Juliet, me, Bella

A huge thanks to everyone who came along to celebrate with me.  And Mark.  It really was magical.  And for all my gorgeous presents.  I was truly spoiled.  And between Mark and I we managed to eat an entire red velvet cake and it was perfect. I regret nothing. 

And a big thanks to my friend Bev for dragging me out on Friday night to go and see Versailles at the Donmar.  I loved it utterly.  It’s made me resolve to go and see more theatre, that’s for sure!

The #banishedswag competition went RIDICULOUSLY well and the lovely Karen / @LOLintheLibrary got randomly chosen by random.org which is fab.  We’ve been in touch and K’s opted for the Kindle.  So once I’ve got the parcel put together, I will take a snap and add it up.

Below are the links to the Banished blog-tour that happened all of last week and the weekend.

Thanks so much to everyone hosting me and being patient as people waffled via twitter about the blog posts etc.

Earlier this week I met with my lovely editor Bella and we got to sit down and chat about book 2 (Vowed) and the shenanigans and fall-out that needs sorting out in book 3.  It was thrilling and terrifying in equal measure because it means that, almost sooner than what I’m ready, I have to write book 3 and wow, that’s just…wow.

Yes, I’m the writer. I have incredible strong word power skills. Shut up.

Anyway.  This is exciting. I got this email late last night from Bella:

Vowed

Editing book 2 will be happening over the next few weeks which is *flails*.

I’ll also be talking on the Tor blog later this month, more about the how Blackhart trilogy acquisition happened and we’ll also be talking about the editorial process and a few other things at a later stage.

If you’ve missed the first blogpost I did for Tor on getting an agent, do check that out here.  I even scraped my courage together and supplied them with my query letter I sent off to Juliet.  Juliet also kindly commented about the letter and what she thought of it.  The blog’s been getting a really positive response and I hope it helps newbie writers out there in some way.

Q&A with Kit and Aiden

Saturday, 1 March 2014, 12:16 | Category : Uncategorized
Tags :

I wrote this up for Becky from Becky’s Barmy Book Blog but I thought I’d repost it here as formatting is a complete bitch on the these blogs.  It’s a small script I wrote for Kit and Aiden, basically being forced to interview one another.  It goes a bit weird and hits the fourth wall.

ACT 1

FADE IN:

EXT: GREENWICH – AN ABANDONED WAREHOUSE – NIGHT

Two cars pull up.  One is a red Mini Cooper.  The other is a black SUV with tinted windows.  The doors open and close in unison.  Two people get out.  From the Mini Cooper, a pretty tall brunette, dressed in dark grey form fitting combat trousers and black ankle boots. The black polo-neck she’s wearing is partly covered by a military stab vest. She carries a sheathed sword in one hand.   This is KIT BLACKHART.  She looks over at the youth who got out of the SUV and gives him a slow nod of acknowledgement.

The youth – AIDEN GARRETT – returns the nod with one of his own and moves towards her.  Although Kit is tall (at least 6ft in her socks) Aiden is taller still with broad shoulders and a lean physique. He’s dressed in dark jeans, boots and a v-neck Henley.  Unlike Kit he carries no weapons.

KIT

You got the call too?

AIDEN

I did. Not happy about this though, you know? I was heading into town to hang out with Leo. We had plans. Clubbing, kissing girls. And now this.

KIT

(annoyed)

Sorry to cramp your social life.  Let’s go see what she wants.

AIDEN

Ladies first.

KIT

(scowling at him as she unsheathes her sword)

Watch your six.

AIDEN

Are you ever not armed to the teeth? And convinced people are out to get you?

They walk towards the half-open doors of the warehouse.  The whole area looks unsafe and unsavory.  A place where bad things happen.  The shadows are thick near the door and both Kit and Aiden go into tactical mode as they crouch low before entering the warehouse.  They clear the corners but there’s not sign of anyone.

AIDEN

                                                                       Did you bring a gun?

 KIT

                                         No.  I didn’t think I’d need it. You know, she said she just wanted to talk.

AIDEN

(mutters darkly)

Good, because you suck at shooting. I still have the scar where you hit me the last time.

KIT

Shut up.  You weren’t even supposed to be there.  It’s not my fault you’re allergic to silver, wolf boy.  Can you smell anything?

 

Aiden moves away from Kit, further into the dark and echoey warehouse, his head raised, drawing the air into his lungs.

 

AIDEN

No, but someone’s been here. Check that out.

 

Kit walks up to him and follows the line of his arm as he points.  She still couldn’t quite make it out.  Annoyance crosses her features as she closes her eyes.  There’s a faint HUM and we suddenly see the world from Kit’s perspective.  The darkness in the warehouse has taken on a green sheen, very much like you’d see through night vision goggles.

 

A table with a TV and camera has been set up, along with two chairs and a single light, like on a photo shoot.

 

KIT

What the hell is this about?

AIDEN

I have no idea, let’s go check it out.

 Keeping an eye on the shadows around them, they move swiftly to the table.  There’s a NOTE on the table, written in a neat hand.

Note2

 

KIT

She’s kidding, right?

 

AIDEN

No, she’s serious! (sighs)

Writers, they’re all off their heads on power or something. Lording it about. (mimics) If you don’t toe the line I will kill you or torture you in my next book.

 

They look annoyed but eventually they get the camera working and linked to the TV screen.  They settle down on the chairs, shifting about uncomfortably.

 

AIDEN

She could’ve left a heater or something in here.  I’m freezing.

KIT

God, you must be the whiniest werewolf I’ve ever come across.  She didn’t say how long the interview was supposed to be, did she? How about five questions each? That should cover it.

 

They high five to that before settling down and fiddling with the camera so that the red light shows that it’s recording.  They can see themselves on the TV screen.  Kit reaches up to tidy her hair but then shrugs and lets her hand drop.  Instead she fiddles with her sword until Aiden nudges her.

 

AIDEN

You go first.  You’re the star of the show.

KIT

Uh, hi.  My name is Kit Blackhart and I’m the main character in Banished and this is just really awkward and weird and I basically hate Liz right now.  But uh, well, we got to do what she says.  So with me today is Aiden.  He’s a secondary character in Banished.  And he’s a friend. (she narrows her eyes at him) Unless he annoys me then I may have to shoot him full of bullets or something.

KIT

(continued)

So, as I’m the one starting this, my question to Aiden is about your werewolf shape: why do you change into a wolf and not some half man-beast like in Wolfman?

AIDEN

Smooth, Blackhart, really smooth. Hi guys, nice to meet you.  The reason I don’t look like a Hollywood freak, is well, I’m a purebred werewolf.  My shape is either human or wolf.  It’s usually the guys who get bit who turn into these rabid half-human beasties you hear about in the news.  Oh, hold on a second. (he leans closer to Kit to hear what she’s whispering) Oh right, those things you hear about in the news? Not really real.  Sorry.

AIDEN

(continued)

My turn to ask a question now, to Kit.  Uhm, Kit. (laughs) Sorry, everything I can think about is really inappropriate. Okay, how about this: out of all your cousins and uncles and aunts, who’s your favourite and why?

KIT

Crap question, wolf boy.  Thanks for that. (thinks a bit) I think I will have to say my Uncle Jamie.  I mean, he’s the one who came to find me in hospital after my Nan died.  He’s the one who told me who I was.  What the Blackharts did. He’s also the guy who’s been training me and my cousins.  So yeah, right now? Uncle Jamie is my favourite.

AIDEN

Are those tears, Blackhart?

KIT

Is this my fist in your face?

AIDEN

Is that my question? Then yes, it is your fist in my face.  Put it away, Kit.  Here’s a handkerchief.  You cry ugly; no one wants to see that.

Kit turns away from the screen after accepting the handkerchief to wipe her eyes before turning back.

 

KIT

Stupid allergies, sorry about that. (crappy smile) Okay, Aiden, I must know: if my cousin Megan ever said yes to a date with you, where would you take her and what would you do? I mean, basically I want to know what your idea of a romantic date would be?

AIDEN

(he looks terrified)

Megan? Why are you even asking this? Do you think she’d go out with me if I asked her? Did she say she liked me like that? Kit? Stop laughing.  Ow, that hurts.  Okay.  Fine.  I’d take her for dinner at one of the really swanky places in Mayfair.  Then I’d take her dancing at Milton’s. Then, when she got bored of dancing, I’d take her to St Paul’s and we can sit on the roof and watch the sun rise.  Then, because I know you Blackharts have a thing about eating, I’d take her to Brick Lane and feed her fresh bagels.  Then I’ll get a taxi and we’ll head back to your place.  Where I will leave her with a chaste kiss on the cheek and then I will go home to my place.

AIDEN

What do you think of that?  I’m a classy guy.

KIT

You’ve got it bad.  (laughs)  Okay, what’s your next question?

AIDEN

But seriously, feel free to tell Megan I’d like to take her out. Any time she’s in the mood, you know? Man, she does things to my head.  (sighs) Okay.  Next question: if you never found out about being a Blackhart and if your magic never manifested, what would you do with your life?

KIT

I’d be a set designer, working in movies or TV.  Or a costume designer. Something creative like that.  How about you? What if you were Aiden Garrett bad ass werewolf, what would you be? What would you do with your life?

AIDEN

I don’t know. I’ve not actually ever thought about it.  I suppose it would be weird being just a normal guy.  With no pack to relate to.  Maybe I’d be a doctor? I think I’d like to work with kids.  You know? Look after the kids who really have no one else to look after them.

KIT

You’re just a big old softie, aren’t you? Ouch! Okay, stop, I won’t laugh at you anymore. Sorry.  Your turn now. I’ve lost count how many we’ve done now.  How about two more?

AIDEN

Each? Or me one and then you one?

KIT

Me one then you one. If Liz isn’t happy with this then she can just you know forget about screwing with my life some more cos I’m done.  Done. (determined stare to camera)

AIDEN

That’s fighting talk, crazy girl.  Okay.  My turn.

 

He narrows his eyes at her thoughtfully.

 

AIDEN

What is the thing you miss most about your normal life? Your life pre-Blackhart?

KIT

Seriously? Do you enjoy being an idiot?  (heavy sigh) Okay, so…I really miss being honest with my best friend, Karina.  She lives in Germany.  We had all these great plans to travel after school, doing a gap year.  Travel in Europe and then go on to America, you know? Now, that’s not possible. I’ve not ever been able to tell her about what I do really.  Can you imagine the postcard: Dear Karina, just hung out in Prague for the weekend.  Fought a gargoyle and went to dinner with a werewolf.  Wish you were here.  All my love, Kit xo xo

AIDEN

(after a few seconds) So, on a scale of one to ten, how hot is Karina?

KIT

Oh my god, Aiden, seriously? Are you even for real?

AIDEN

What? Enquiring minds need to know, Kit.  Come on.  Is Karina hot?

KIT

Her brother is super hot.  I’ve been half in love with him all my life it seems like.  (stupid grin on her face before she remembers herself and sits upright in her chair)  Okay, forget about Karina for now.  Last question, then we’re outta here.  My turn.

AIDEN

I can’t wait.

KIT

If you could change anything that happens in Banished, what would it be?

AIDEN

(huffs out a breath)

Wow.  That’s not a loaded question at all.  I think I’d change the whole thing with Scarlet.  That was really unpleasant and made me feel powerless and useless.

KIT

I know.  Our lives are messed up.

AIDEN

Look, wanna get out of here? Leo’s waiting at Milton’s. We can party till dawn?

KIT

Sounds like a plan.  Kyle’s not expecting me back at the house.  Uncle Andrew’s calling from New York in the morning though.  Apparently there’s a rumour of faerie drugs doing the rounds in nightclub. No doubt he expects me to investigate it.

AIDEN

Oh great.  Faerie drugpushers.  That’s all the human world needs.

END OF ACT 1

Thanks so much to Becky for letting me hang out!

This little Q&A takes place between Banished and the second book ,Vowed, out in November this year, if all goes well.  Hopefully it’s given you an idea as to who the characters are and the way I set the scene is fun and aimed to be read as if it’s a movie / tv show.

 

 

Swag time!

Monday, 24 February 2014, 9:24 | Category : Uncategorized
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Okay, kiddos, here it is.

Mega swag time to celebrate the publication of Banished, the first book in The Blackhart Trilogy.

It took me ages to figure out what to do but in the end I think I’ve come up with some neat ideas.  As I am quite obvious about the things I like, I thought I’d put together a list of things I love and give you the chance to win it.

Here’s the list of swag you can win:

1 x signed and annotated copy of a limited edition of a Banished proof  

1 x signed copy of Banished (finished)

1 x Moleskine journal (unused) 

1 x 9inch leather satchel from Scaramanga 

1 x iPod shuffle 

OR 

1 x Kindle Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display 

And bonus prize

1 x signed copy of Banished to South Africa / New Zealand / Australian territories 

 

IMG_0589

Annotated proof

IMG_0719

Signed finished copy of Banished

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 23.06.23

A moleskine journal

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 23.07.04

iPod shuffle (your choice of colour)

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 22.55.26

9 inch Scaramanga satchel bag

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 22.52.00

Kindle Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display

 

Okay, this is pretty fun and decent swag and 100% tailored to the stuff I like, so I hope you guys like it too.  

The rules are simple:

1,  Tweet me (@LizUK) with the one thing (be it person or situation or thing) you’d BANISH if you get the opportunity.  Keep it clean. In this tweet, use the #banishedswag hashtag.  This is the ONLY way I will be able to keep track of the entries.  

2.  This competition is only open to the UK at present, I’m sorry about that but I can’t afford to send stuff further abroad.  HOWEVER if you are in South Africa or Australia or New Zealand, I’m happy to send a signed copy of Banished out to you and throw in some random stuff I’ve got here at because I can. Like an extra notebook maybe.

3.  The competition runs until Sunday, 2nd March.  I will use a random generator via the internet to choose the winner.  I will get in touch with you via Twitter to let you know that you are the winner.  If you don’t respond within 24 hours to my tweet, I WILL CHOOSE SOMEONE ELSE and you forfeit your win. 

4.  Multiple entries will be disqualified because we don’t want spam.

5.  There are no bonus ways to enter.  You get one chance and that’s it.

6.  You get to choose between the iPod and the Kindle.  You can have either OR not both.

Let me know by commenting below if you have any other questions about this competition.

***

I hope you all agree this is a fun and easy competition and pretty clear.  I look forward to seeing your entries!

Let the fun commence for your chance to win #banishedswag

 

Ah, again, just to be clear: I am not employed by any of the merchants whose goodies I’m offering.  I will be buying / have bought these items for competition purposes. I am not affiliated to any of these people either. I just like their stuff.  I thought I’d just put this out there so it’s clear.

 

T-minus 9 days and counting

Tuesday, 18 February 2014, 11:54 | Category : books, Events, Stuff, teen wolf, TV shows, writing
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There are nine days left till publication of Banished.

This is me right now:

 

Only not quite as calm.  But it is exciting and not at all terrifying*

What is very exciting to me though is that I get to take part in a blogtour, as set up by Lucie at Tor UK, for the release of Banished.   As being on the receiving end of a blogtour as an new author…well, let me just say, it is a completely different animal to what I expected.  And I enjoyed it hugely, putting it all together and I think what helped is that some of the subjects I chose to write about aren’t your run of the mill subjects.  So, sorry about that. 

More importantly, here is the stonking banner Lucie put together.

Banished Banner

*whispers: that is my book wot I wrote that I get to talk about

On the 24th, I will also launch a bit of a giveway on here.  I won’t say much about it right now apart from the fact that it will be big and fat and stuffed full of swag.  I have no idea even how to ask for entries. I will have to figure that one out. Maybe do it via here and twitter with the hashtag #banishedswag ? That could work! But, I will see what comes together when it does happen.

For those of you who are looking into various options buying a copy of Banished, here are some links.  Just to be clear: I’m not affiliated to any of the stores I’m linking to so I make no money and get no kickbacks from anyone for linking to these.  Naturally I’d love for you to support your local indie store, so definitely do that, but I also know we’re all pretty much cash-strapped so order from wherever you want to suit your pocket!

Here we go:

Amazon – paperback 

Amazon – kindle 

Waterstones – paperback 

Hive stores – paperback & ebook 

Obviously Banished will be available in actual shop stores too so pop by and ask for copies. After the launch on the 27th Feb, there should be signed copies in Foyles on Charing Cross Road and I am thinking, there will be signed copies at Forbidden Planet (Shaftesbury) if I’m a truly lucky author, but I’ll keep you updated on that, at a later stage.  It’s all rather (OMGIAMSOTOTALLYFREAKINGOUTRIGHTNOW) cool.

Sword and book

So, that’s the end of me going promo-Liz about Banished coming out in a few days’ time. What am I up to at the moment?

Waiting for edits on Vowed to come back and to keep myself busy I’m obsessing about Teen Wolf (Stiles, I love you more than I love Isaac and Derek and Lydia and well, all the cast, basically) / Beauty and the Beast (Catherine you are my hero) / The Tomorrow People / Game of Thrones Season 4 (House Targaryen forever!) / The Walking Dead (omg, Rick please don’t die).

I am also fully loving tumblr and basically fan-girl to my heart’s content on there – follow at your very own peril.

I also got to visit, on my birthday no less, the very cool National Theatre’s prop department to look at props for the Foyles windows display.  Now, this is an opportunity very few authors are given, and I am genuinely flattered that Banished will be displayed in the Foyles “Staff Picks” window.  In the end we opted not to take anything from the National Theatre purely because we realised we could “fund” the window with stuff from our insane Tiny Tardis House and with the help of Mark’s sword tutor.  So, here we go:

Display stuff

Very excited to see the finished display – the one above was on our couch – in the window so I’ll definitely pop that onto the blog once I get sent a picture.

I’ve also just been writing in bits and pieces on a small contemp YA cross-over.  Not sure where it’s going but there are no explosions (!?) and no supernatural characters or elements (!?) but I am liking the characters and it’s making me laugh.  I’m taking this as a win.  And basically, really, that’s it, for now!

Fandom

Wednesday, 22 January 2014, 11:56 | Category : teen wolf, TV shows, writing
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Fandom (consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdomfreedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.

The above was taken from Wikipedia. 

***

Onto my blogpost now:

Oddly, I’ve never really been part of fandom, not in the way I understood it to be.  I mean, I have every single box set of Supernatural and I have seen every single episode, the same with Buffy, Angel and gods, quite a few other tv shows and movies too, and books (obviously) yet I’ve never thought I’d become as deeply involved in a show to the distraction of anything else.

Well, it’s happened.  And as usual for me, I’ve come late to it.

I’m talking about Teen Wolf.

I know, what possibly could be of interest to me in Teen Wolf? Sure, the cast is ridiculously good looking (and young) but what else is there? Well, basically it’s the whole package and not just the cast looking hot.  The writing is top notch.  Jeff Davis and his team are doing incredible work on each season with each series having it’s own narrative, big bad and pitfalls for the cast of characters, but there’s also great character development for the secondary characters, which is unusual to see in a lot of shows.

Teen Wolf – Season 1 Cast

What I love too is the fact that the cast is diverse – across the board.  And I’m not talking about colour of skin either.  I’m talking about how the characters are portrayed within themselves and the sexual choices they make.  Danny, played by , is openly gay.  This is never a thing, a negative thing, which is nice to see in a TV this popular with kids it’s actually aimed at and adults like me.   And it’s never hidden – we see Danny hang out with his boyfriends, kissing and going to the Winter Dance.  That’s really cool.  Later in another series there’s a female couple who’ve snuck off into the woods to have some alone time as their lives are too busy and noisy and all they wanted was some quiet time.  Never once is there a thing about it and no nudge nudge wink wink.  Progressive and freeing!

Much Danny Love!

Another thing I like is how the one main character, Stiles, has this close relationship with his dad.  Even if he has to lie to him (because you can’t tell your dad your best mate is a werewolf and there are werewolves wandering around the local nature reserve) he does his utmost to protect his dad and help him with these impossible cases his dad as the Sheriff has to undertake.  Also, our main Teen Wolf character, Scott McCall has a very powerful and strong mum who is funny and charming and as full of beans as her son.  I like that the parents are on-screen.  Of course there’s Chris Argent, the other main character’s (Allison’s) dad who is a Bad Man in that he’s the head of a family that hunts werewolves….DRAMA DRUMS.  And also, the two main female cast characters are strong and their stories are developed throughout the show, which is great.  Lydia is especially well written and I can on one hand count a bunch of girls I went to school with who remind me of her.

Another thing I love above Teen Wolf is that it’s happy to play around with mythology, sticking with origins and the usual things but mixing it up too.  In a sense it does what Supernatural did way back in the beginning with its monster-a-week episodes but then it fell by the wayside for other bigger themes.   In Teen Wolf we’ve got wolves, banshees, druids…other things and we’re only just starting on the second part of Season 3.  Not bad going.

I fell love with Teen Wolf by accident.  I’m a card-carrying TW Girl.  I’ve been pinning and tumblring posts about it and I’m having a great time reading people’s thoughts on the show.  I love the fandom.  I love that there are people out there who have thinky thoughts about this show and the characters and that the showrunners are aware of the fandom.  It’s this…weirdly creative symbiosis. There are incredible bits of meta essays written about the lore of the world and about the characters.  Everything is examined in minute detail and well, blow me away if that doesn’t make me happy.

So, there it is.  I love fandom and I love Teen Wolf for being a fun and creative show with writers and directors clearly loving what they do.  Here’s hoping they trust themselves and what they’ve created and get the chance to see the show run its course.

I’ve got a lot of friends who are into fandom and so I asked my bestie to give me her six pence and here it is:

Sarah says: 

I am a fully-signed up member of many fandoms and proudly so; Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Sherlock, Austen, Elementary, The Moomins (that last one may not be the biggest fandom but it’s a thing, definitely). I’m in love with the way that Tumblr has become my go-to place to keep them all alive. I mean, there’s going to be a thousand-year wait until the next Sherlock series – I need as many gifs as possible between now and then. I think they give like-minded people a chance to share with each other and that includes the wonders of fanfiction. There’s a dark side too though, as there is with most things. A fandom which turns its collective mind against individuals or groups is a horrible thing to witness and that can be seen all to often on Twitter. Basically, celebrate your passions but never let it take over your reason or common human decency.

***

So, come one, spill – what are your fandoms?

Agent Interview – Juliet Mushens

Friday, 17 January 2014, 9:10 | Category : agent, books, writing
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I thought it would be great to catch up with my agent, Juliet Mushens, after my first initial interview with her all that time ago and do a follow-up Q&A.  Juliet readily agreed because she’s awesome but also because she knows how much dis-information is out there about being an agent and what people are looking for.

Thanks to Juliet for taking the time out to do this at a very busy start of 2014.  I hope you guys enjoy this and that you take something away from it.

1. You’ve been doing regular #askagent events on Twitter with other agents.  Have you found that these help those querying you?

I think so, yes – lots of writers comment that it stops them panicking about the little issues, and also gives then the kick up the arse to actually submit! I think writers often find agents mysterious and scary, and #askagent breaks down that misconception. We give up our free time on weekends to do it so I hope it conveys how passionate we are about finding good books!

The submissions I get where people reference #askagent tend to be much more focused, so I do feel that people take the advice on board, which is great.

2. When I interviewed you back in August 2012 (I’d been with you a mere WEEK!) you mentioned your wishlist - http://www.lizdejager.co.uk/2012/08/interview-with-juliet-mushens/ - what has changed for the things you’re looking for?

Oh I found some of those things! THE MINIATURIST by Jessie Burton (Picador) is a big literary historical fiction novel and she actually submitted to me after reading that interview. I also have a great psychological thriller HIS OTHER HALF by Claire Douglas (Harper) coming out next year. Plus tons of original epic fantasy eg Den Patrick (Gollancz), James Oswald (Michael Joseph) and Jen Williams (Headline).

I’m still looking for lots of things though. I’d love to find a serial killer thriller, a ghost story, historical crime, non-Western fantasy and everything in between. Often the things I sign are really unexpected though – something I’d never think I’m looking for can end up surprising me. I represent everything except writing for under-10s, picture-books, sports and diet books. So don’t feel put off submitting just because I haven’t specifically said I’m looking for the exact thing you are writing!

3. Your email pings, you think: maybe this is golden and yet…what pulls you out of a submission and makes you think this isn’t one for you?

There can be lots of things which stop me from calling in a full manuscript. Common pitfalls are: too much exposition, too much focus on small details (she got up… She walked to the sofa… She sat on the sofa… She picked up the remote… Etc), unrealistic dialogue and unbelievable characters. I think that establishing character quickly and well is key. If I buy into a character I can often overlook other things.

4.  Do you ever refer someone who’s submitted to you to another agent whom you think may be more suitable?

Not often, but occasionally. I have taken on someone after a referral before, and I will recommend other people if I think their list is more suitable.
Juliet headshot (1)
5.  You and I did some intense edits on Blackhart (now Banished) after I submitted to you.  Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve worked editorially with a client and they decided not to have you submit it to an editor or chose to self-publish it?

No, never. If people sign with an agent they want to be traditionally published, and are committing to that process. I’d be fairly annoyed if someone used me essentially as a free editorial service!

6.  Can you lift the lid as to what happens once a manuscript is ready to go out editors? What happens on your side and what is your advice to authors during this time?

Once the manuscript is ready I prepare a submission list of editors. I’ll call them all, write a pitch and send them the book, whilst laying out the rights I’m offering. I’ll also send the book out to literary scouts (whose job it is to scout out hot books for foreign publishers), foreign publishers and our US office.

Sometimes a publisher will offer a lot of money very quickly (called a pre-empt), to take the book off the table. Sometimes several publishers offer in which case you have an auction. Some publishers want to meet the author first, and sometimes only one publisher bids. The process can really vary and no one way is the ‘right’ way.

My advice to authors is to relax, stop hitting refresh on your email or you’ll get RSI, and try and busy yourself with other things! Also, restrain yourself from sending the ‘any news???’ email every few days (I know it’s hard). Your agent will absolutely keep you up to date if there is any news, and the process takes time. Some books sell within days and others take months, so you need to relax and try and distract yourself. Maybe take up meditation. Or golf.

7. What exactly happens at bookfairs, Juliet? What does it even mean? Is it open to the public and is it worthwhile for authors to attend?

Book fairs are my chance to meet publishers from all over the world. In advance my agency prepares a ‘rights guide’ which lists all of the titles we have out or coming out, when they are publishing, and the territories sold. Our goal is to conclude more deals and get more requests from publishers around the world to consider the manuscripts we represent.

Every 30 minutes we have a meeting with foreign publishers where we go through the rights guide and they tell us which books they are interested in. Some of the publishers will already have rights to publish some of my books and we might discuss when the translatable manuscript is due, when they are publishing it, the cover, or sales figures.

I have meetings between 9am and 6pm each day and the follow-up – of sending requested manuscripts – takes weeks to do. It’s a hectic time!

It’s very much a business to business event rather than something which involves authors directly, however some of the fairs do have events for authors. I’ll be talking at London Book Fair about finding an agent and the publishing process, for example. I came to London Book Fair when I was at university and enjoyed wandering around, but as everyone has back to back meetings it isn’t hugely public-friendly!

8. You have an assistant – Sarah – working closely with you now.  What does her role entail when it comes to new submissions but also going forward with existing clients?

I tend to read my own submissions but Sarah often reads alongside me. She has great taste which I really trust and we tend to agree editorially. Writers often get hung up on their work being read by assistants rather than the agents but good assistants are always keen to find exciting projects in the slushpile. I started out as an assistant and was a huge champion for the writers I found and loved, really encouraging the agents I worked for to read their work and offer representation.

With clients going forward, a good assistant also offers editorial thoughts and can answer most questions if I’m away. It’s just great to have an extra pair of hands and a fresh pair of eyes!

Enough with the serious questions! Two quick ones.

9.  What non-work related books are you reading at the moment?

Currently reading ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch and ‘Love Nina’ by Nina Stibbe.

I’ve just finished ‘The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made’ by Greg Sestero. The Room is the worst film of all time and I’ve seen it three times! Seriously, look it up on YouTube. Greg starred in the trainwreck of a film and I hoped the book would reveal more hilarious stories behind the scenes. It did, but it was also smart and surprisingly moving. It reminded me that good non-fiction can transport you just as much as fiction can.

10. What vice aren’t you giving up for 2014?

Oh I never give things up for the New Year! I’ll definitely carry on reading Mills & Boon regency romance novels (got to love a pirate captain: no chemise is safe), rapping at karaoke, and spending too much money on dresses. I hope to still be enjoying those vices well into retirement.

You can follow Juliet on twitter: @mushenska  or, find her info at The Agency Group’s website.

Aaand onwards!

Monday, 6 January 2014, 10:51 | Category : Journals, writing
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It’s my first day back in the office for about two weeks and it’s jarring.  However! The sun has come out and the skies are that brilliant blue that make a lie out of the storm we had a mere half an hour ago.

As of today, Banished is 52 days away from being published.  Needless to say the levels of fear and excitement are pretty much on par.  Here’s a pie chart to indicate what things are like for me right now:

Pie

Yes, I’m procrastinating about actually doing anything work-related as my brain has kinda melted by having to get up this early as per normal.  Also, I’ve not been sleeping well these past few weeks.  And it’s mostly because of guilt.

I don’t understand it either.  I made my deadline and sent the book in to my editor for editing and yet..YET, I wandered around the house during my brief break and felt this weird loss inside me.

I picked up books to read and put them down.  I watched a few movies, I slept loads, I got trapped in the house as our front door swelled shut (not as exciting as it sounds) and I couldn’t get out until our postie kicked it in for me…and I went walking in the local park  pondering All The Things and yet I felt lost and weirdly empty.

It was because I didn’t have anything to write, I realised.  I made myself sit down at my laptop the one evening Mark was upstairs on the PS3 and I wrote a random scene.  Which lead to more random scenes.  And slowly a story unfolded and so I jotted some thoughts down about who the characters are, what they looked like, what they did / didn’t do, stuff like that.  What surprised me endlessly is that it was a contemporary YA with romantic elements but a bit crimey/thrillery at it’s heart.  It was something I’d never tried writing in the past and it felt like quite a rush.  It’s a feeling that’s addictive.

This story made me think of something else I wanted to write for ages.  So I made more notes and opened another document and wrote some random scenes, test-driving the characters and points of view.  I went searching on Pinterest and found pictures that covered both these stories and pinned them with glee.

Notes

Notes wot I wroted

And all the time I was playing with these two stories, other ideas kept coming and so I gave in and made notes on them too, along with twisty turney bits for Book 3 which I can only tackle once I’ve had feedback from my editor because of stuff happening in Book 2 that need resolving.  *scared yet mysterious face*

Bizarrely, I no longer feel lost.  Or empty – because I’d done something to do with my writing. I’d created words that quite possibly may not go anywhere at all, except sit higgledypiggledy in that Ideas Notebook 2014/1.  The point is I wrote something, anything, and I challenged myself by tackling something a bit different.

The way I felt, walking away from the notes, drove home the point that it’s not something I can’t not do.  I suddenly felt comfortable in my skin, like I could breathe and not just shallow city-breaths either but long full seaside breaths.  Also, that weird bits of dialogue that kept cropping up in my head now had somewhere to go.

I’m not really sure what the point of this blogpost really is, apart from saying: if you’re a writer, write.  Just keep doing it.  For your own sanity and those around you.

 

 

 

I pressed “send”!

Monday, 2 December 2013, 16:36 | Category : books, movies, music, writing
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I sent the manuscript for book two – VOWED – in to both my editor and agent today.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 17.24.24

It is a strange feeling knowing that I’ve worked on something that’s being published around November next year…when the first book isn’t even out. (uhm, you can pre-order BANISHED now for delivery on release date from Amazon, Book Depository, Waterstones or your local bookstore, just sayin’).

I loved working on VOWED but it was hard going as I’ve never had to write a second book in a trilogy before and I kept second-guessing myself but I knew the themes were to be big and loud and shouty and fun so I hope I’ve managed to translate into the bloody manuscript!

I’ve popped the ms in a word-cloud app and this is what came of it:

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 14.07.14

 

In other exciting news, the Authors for the Philippines auction has ended and the lovely Darren from Bookzone for Boys won the bid to be a side-kick in a short story and to have a named character in Book 3 (release date provisionally July/August 2015).  This is so flattering and thanks so much to everyone who bid, not just on being in the Blackhart Legacy, but overall.  Keris and Keren did so much work, along with Candy Gourlay, and it was incredible to see the offers from across the industry fly in once word got out – and the fact that it reached internationally is impressive, I think.  Just goes to show what social media can do when everyone pulls together.

Here follows some ruminations about movies and tv shows and some music.

I put editing aside briefly last week Saturday to go and watch Catching Fire at West India Quay.  We went super early and the cinema wasn’t busy at all and it was interesting to see the demographic of people who attended.  There were some teens but then there was a lot of adults (talking over 25′s here) and some people were there by themselves.  What I noticed too: a group of young guys, probably around 24 years old or something, who were obviously seriously into the Hunger Games overall.  They were debating the finalists and talking with a lot of excited hand gestures about the movie, the cast, the story.

So yes, if this could be an indicator to Hollywood that strong independent girls can draw a diverse and enthusiastic audience, please, do more movies with strong independent young women who aren’t victims or who get fridged in order to progress a storyline for the man to go on a spree of revenge killings.  That’s lazy storytelling.  Unless it’s anything The Stathe stars in then well, shut up because it’s The Stathe.

What? I’m allowed this caveat because Jason Statham.

We also saw Thor 2 and it was such ridiculous fun.  I like that there was more of Jane and my face still burns at Chris Hemsworth’s shirtless scene because really, the camera lingered just that touch too long for it to be comfortable.  Ahem. *fans self*

Oh, when the Beauty & The Beast tv show started on tv earlier this year, I watched the first episode but didn’t think much of it.  Now however, I’m utterly OBSESSED with it because the female lead, Catherine, kicks so much ASS.  Seriously.  It’s not as good as the original Beauty and the Beast I remember watching and falling irrevocably in love with Vincent aka Ron Perlman, but, when it comes to actual fight scene coordination, this show is incredible.  I also like, utterly, that although Cat and Vincent are drawn to one another, there is no kissing.  Or even, a lot of touching.  It’s something I noticed from the outset and I love it – there is a simmering attraction and well, I’m probably on like episode 7 or so, but yep, no unnecessary touching and lots of angst.  *happy Liz*

Music wise, I’ve put together a huge playlist for Kit when she does her exercise training.  I know, that’s taking character creation to a new level, right?  I just thought that it is something she would have to hand.  Music plays a big part in my life and in both books thus far so it made sense for her to have an exercise playlist which I liberally copied from an old Men’s Health magazine I found lying around, along with some of my favourite work out music.  This wasn’t any kind of procrastination at all.  No sir, none.

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed listening to Lorde, Haim, Cvrches, Jamie Woon and Yeasayer, also MS MR, MNDR and Avicii.  I also like the  Lost Girl and the Beauty and the Beast tracks they use in the tv-shows. Whilst editing I listened to a lot of OST from movies, specifically Dredd and basically anything by Ramin Djawadi.

Next up for me is a few days of R&R, including a Black Sabbath concert.  There will be loads of reading and I’m all about contemp YA romances at the moment.  I also have a lot of fantasy reads to catch up on over crimbo so I’m looking forward to that.

I leave you with a trailer to Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale.  I hope the movie does justice to this amazing book.  And if you’ve not read it yet, make sure you do.