July 28, 2014, 9.07 pm
Home, home, home! I'm back in America, in my hometown and my family house, for the first time in over 6-1/2 years...and oh, does it feel good. :) It's amazing how much I'd forgotten while I was gone - and just how happy it's made me to be back, surrounded by family (including my lovely new sister-in-law, who is such a fantastic addition to the family!) and staying in one of my very favorite towns in the world.
My hometown paper did a lovely article about me and my upcoming event at the East Lansing Public Library (in just two days now!), which you can read here - and I actually screamed out loud when one of the librarians, just before I got on the plane, sent me a photo of the sign currently standing outside my hometown library (which was basically a second home to me as a kid):
It would be an intense understatement to say that I was thrilled when I saw that photo! And when I actually saw it in person, I honestly felt a little dizzy. I truly could not feel any more welcomed or supported, and I just desperately wish that my ten-year-old self could have seen that picture!
I finished the first 10,000 words of Family Magic the night before I got on the plane to America, and ever since, I've been in solid revision mode, where I'll be staying for a while. I just finished the very final draft of Courting Magic this morning (hooray for 24-hour coffeeshops!), and after I finish scouring it for typos, I'll launch into a revision of the first six chapters of Family Magic
But in the meantime, with just over 2 weeks to go until Courting Magic is published...have another teaser! :)
I am SO impatient to share this novella with you guys. I really hope you'll enjoy it!
July 21, 2014, 1.42 pm
It's just over 3 weeks until "Courting Magic" will come out, so here's the second teaser! The return of an old friend... :)
Did you guys guess that Lucy (from Renegade Magic/A Tangle of Magicks) would return? I hope that at least some readers will be happy to have her back - I loved getting to write her all grown up!
I am SO looking forward to sharing this story with you guys! And in perfect timing, we're busy packing for our American trip, so I'm afraid all of my American family members will be forced to scour the manuscript for typos over the next couple of weeks...hmm, maybe I should pack some chocolate bribes, now that I come to think of it! ;)
I'm also packing a few pieces of Kat-themed jewelry to bring along to my event at the East Lansing library next Wednesday. I'll have to think of a good way to give them away there!
Now it's time for a last local library visit with my kids - and then maybe a sneak-writing session later on. Nearly finished with another chapter of Family Magic!
I hope you guys are all having a good week. And I'd love to hear about any American books you've read recently and LOVED, so that I can look for them myself while I'm there!
July 18, 2014, 11.10 am
A year ago from this week, I went to the hospital at 7:30 a.m. in the middle of a heatwave so bad, the operating theater kept getting shut down because the temperatures couldn't be controlled. Patrick and I waited in a stuffy, hot room without a window or a fan throughout a loooooong morning and early afternoon, through delay after delay (as emergency operations took precedence). At 1:30, a doctor finally came in and said, "It's time! Let's do this."
At 2:15, I heard Baby X's cry behind the operating curtain, and I knew that he was okay. And immediately everything was worth it.
This week Baby X chased his birthday balloons all around the living room floor, played with his big brother, and grinned as he created mischief of all sorts. Oh, Baby X, we are so happy to have you!
This week, I've also spent a ridiculous number of hours on the phone trying to work out all the administrative details of our big trip to America. The phone calls sucked, but the trip - hooray! And I was sent a photo of this fabulous flyer for my upcoming library event in East Lansing, Michigan:
There will be bagels supplied by the lovely local Panera, and I'd love to see any of you guys there! As I said before, there's no pressure to buy a book - this is a library event, after all! - but I'm happy to sign copies of any books that are brought along, and Schuler Books will also be supplying copies of my books for sale at the event, in case you want to pick any up while there.
Now Baby X is sleeping on my lap, and it's time to go back to work on my packing list. It's a good chore to have!
July 14, 2014, 8.38 am
Today I'm really happy to be hosting Keris Stainton on my blog for an interview about her new MG book, Starring Kitty. On a personal level, Keris is one of the warmest and most generous writers I know, and professionally, she's a guiding force in current UK kids' literature. Not only has she published several YA novels (most recently, Emma Hearts LA), but she teaches YA writing, she advocates for it publicly, and she was one of the two organizers of last year's Authors for the Philippines auction.
Here's the blurb for her new book, Starring Kitty:
Sometimes the greatest love stories happen behind the scenes…
Kitty's keeping secrets. Like how she's struggling to cope with her mum's illness. And how she's falling for the girl with the purpley-red hair... A fun film competition with her friends Sunny and Hannah seems like the perfect distraction. But then Dylan wants to be more than Kitty's secret. Is Kitty ready to let her two worlds meet or will she risk losing Dylan forever?
Starring Kitty is the first in a new series about first love and friendship by much-loved teen author Keris Stainton
You can read what I wrote about the book on Goodreads when I had a chance to read an early ARC of it. (Spoiler: I highly recommended it. :) )
And here's my interview with Keris!
1. Can you tell the story of how this book came about? I have a vague memory of seeing on your blog beforehand that you’d gone to London to have a conversation with editors...expand, please?
I'd planned a third book in the Hearts series with a girl/girl romance, but my publishers weren't interested. I wrote a blog post about it for Jim at YA Contemporary and the same day it went up, Non Pratt, who was an editor at Catnip at the time, tweeted that she was looking for a gay YA romance, so I sent her the link and she asked me to come and have a chat. I went down to London to meet her and we talked about that idea and also about a trilogy I had in mind about three friends...and that ended up becoming the Reel Friends series!
2. What was it like to switch to writing for younger readers after writing three YA novels in a row? And why did you decide to make that shift?
I don't think this book is actually that much younger than the last two really - they were definitely at the younger end of YA. But my editor and I talked about the grey area between MG and YA - 10-13-ish - and how there weren't so many books for that age group and certainly very few with same sex relationships.
3. What’s your favourite thing about Starring Kitty, from a totally personal, subjective perspective?
I love the seaside setting. I've only just realised that I've set quite a few books at the seaside now. It's just so much fun to write about beaches and piers and fairgrounds!
4. And if this hasn’t already been covered by that last question: what was the most fun part to write?
There's a scene where Kitty's helping Dylan with her homework that I really enjoyed writing. There's a conversation about Twilight and Disney Princesses and I also got to wander around on Google Maps on Kitty and Dylan's behalf and I always enjoy doing that. Plus there's a very slightly rude joke :)
5. What kind of research did you do for the book?
I don't usually do much research for the first draft - I just try to get the story down, making everything up. Then I do the research and have to go back and fix all the stuff I made up. Probably not the most efficient way to work… So then for the second draft I spoke to a couple of Muslim friends to make sure I got Sunny right (and they both read the next draft and gave me feedback). My mum had MS so I wrote Kitty's mum's bits from my own experience, but then I ran it past a friend with MS and found the prognosis is actually slightly better than when my mum was diagnosed, which was good to learn. I could keep researching forever though. I was on the beach recently and started making notes in my head about smells and sounds and the texture of the stones... and then realised it was too late.
6. Can you give us a hint of how the rest of the series will go?
I'm close to finishing the first draft of the second book, Spotlight on Sunny (the first chapter is going up online when Starring Kitty comes out). All I can really say is that the girls are in London and there's a cute boy, a (possibly) mean girl and a fairground. All I know about Hannah's book is that she's going to get in trouble…
Thanks so much to Keris for letting me be part of her blog tour! Starring Kitty will come out in the UK on the 24th of July (and if you're in the US, you can order it from The Book Depository with free international shipping).
July 12, 2014, 12.07 pm
Oof. It's been a slightly frantic few days between one thing and another - most of them having to do with MrD's school year coming to an end and me trying to do All The Things beforehand! Er, as you might be able to guess...that attempt really isn't working out so well. Oh well! At least, by the time he's finished with school, I really should have a version of "Courting Magic" that's ready for copy-editing/proof-reading, and I've been moving along on my Family Magic rewrite, too.
At some point, I keep thinking I should write a whole blog post about the beauty of Do-able Goals (and how hard it's been for me to come to terms with that idea, over the years!), but for now, I'll just say: I am SO glad that I signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-Thon with that minimal and very do-able goal of writing at least one line a day! It's been really good for me. (And - bonus - I've written SO much more because of it! And not just because "at least one line" almost always turns into quite a bit more.)
Also, in totally non-productive but lovely news, yesterday, Baby X and I got to hang out at a beautiful local vineyard with friends (two sets of adults and babies), drinking a small glass of local wine (me) and eating delicious homemade scones (Baby X got to share a little bit of these!), with gorgeous mountains rising all around us.
"Courting Magic" is going to be published exactly one month from today (hooray!), so here's a quick taster of what's coming:
I really hope you enjoy it! I have really loved the whole experience of writing and revising this novella, and I can't wait to share it with you guys.
And in other upcoming-story news: check out the Table of Contents for Insert Title Here, an anthology that will include my novelette "The Art of Deception"! I wrote that story as a Christmas gift for my brother Dave, who had requested a high fantasy adventure story with a twisty plot, to be written in the tradition of The Prisoner of Zenda, The Three Musketeers, etc. It was a really fun story to write. I hope you guys enjoy it, too, when the anthology comes out!