August 15, 2014, 11.30 pm
OK, there are some days that need to be recorded and remembered.
I woke up this morning and the first thing I saw was this amazing, in-depth, thoughtful review of the full Kat, Incorrigible trilogy. Here's a quick snippet:
Imagine a younger sister in the Bennet household investigating magical occurrences and getting into scrapes, while the plot of Pride and Prejudice goes on in the background and interacts with the magical goings on, and you will have an idea of what these books are like...These books are a joy to read – fast paced, fun and charming, and highly recommended for both kids and adults who enjoy magic and historical settings.
It was an amazing way to start the morning, after a mostly-sleepless night with Baby X.
Later in the morning, just before I had to head out the door to take MrD to day camp and run errands with Baby X, look what arrived in the mail: the first real, published Kat box set!
I was so thrilled, I was tearing up (even as I had to GET MOVING to get MrD to his beloved camp and counselor on time and not linger to pet my beautiful box set, no matter how much I wanted to)!
I got MrD to camp just on time. (He announced on his way into the room where his counselor and the other kids were waiting: "Now I'm here!" It was Snake Day. He was NOT going to miss it! ;) ) I found a good (I hope!) birthday present for my seventeen-year-old niece (the one Courting Magic is dedicated to). I dealt with a very grumpy Baby X who wailed nonstop in the car through every ride to every errand. Finally, finally, we all staggered out of the car, ears ringing from high-pitched baby screams, bringing MrD back home from his afternoon at day camp (he got to hold a garter snake! it was awesome!)…
...and found out that Thea from The Book Smugglers had reviewed Courting Magic on Kirkus - and it is a wonderful review! Just check out this snippet:
Her happily ever after is every bit as sweet as Kat deserves. Absolutely recommended, for fans both old and new.
So. Well. You can imagine how I felt when I saw that!
Baby X is still grumpy. I'm still behind on almost every obligation I have in terms of packages to be mailed, chapters to be beta-read, etc., etc., etc.
But it has been a really, really amazing day. :)
March 7, 2014, 3.55 pm
The fabulous writers at Novelocity invited me to take part in their roundtable this week, talking about Comfort Reads - one of my favorite topics! So I'm over there recommending three of my favorites - one adult fantasy novel, one children's novel, and one romance. Check it out!
And in really fun and ridiculously exciting news (to me, anyway), Kat, Incorrigible just made it through Round 1 of the epic YA/MG Book Battle - and the judge said amazing things about it! I was SO happy to see that. :)
Oh! And I've written 4,000 words of the Kat novella ("Courting Magic") so far this week. Considering what a slow first-drafter I usually am, that feels pretty magical to me - but it's just so much fun to race ahead with this story, after waiting so many years to tell it! I feel slightly guilty about how much fun it is, actually. But - needless to say - not guilty enough to stop! ;)
February 17, 2014, 1.11 pm
I had two pieces of really good news this past week! First, my short story "The Wrong Foot" just sold again - this time to the fabulous PodCastle as an audio podcast! They're hoping to put it up online in March, and I can't wait to hear it read by their narrator.
Second - guess what I spotted on Goodreads???
Aaaahhhhhh! Isn't it gorgeous? It's the Kat boxed set, which is going to come out on October 7th in the US and Canada. I love everything about it, especially the name they picked for it! (Finally, my UK titles and US titles are coming together! :) )
In terms of new writing, I have so many writing projects vying for attention right now, my head feels like spinning, Exorcist-style, whenever I let myself think too much about it. I've got the Family Magic rewrite (which feels more like first-drafting a brand-new book about the same characters, since I'm changing from 4 PoVs to 1 PoV and coming up with a whole new plot); the Badger Bandits rewrite (which is, thankfully, much less major); the secret YA project I've just started; and, well, actually...
While I was stuck in a hospital waiting room last week (ETA: just waiting for a physio appointment, nothing worrying!), I finally gave in and wrote the opening of something I've been wanting to write for years but have always told myself I mustn't. Mustn't, mustn't, mustn't - too impractical, too self-indulgent, too, too, too - !
Well. It's the opening of a novella...about Kat, all grown-up, getting introduced to Society by her older sisters (whether she likes it or not)...of course fighting a new magical battle...and finally getting a romance of her own!
And it was just too much fun to make myself stop. So, I think that's happening, too! Actually, I know it is, because I've asked Patrick to start working on an ebook cover for it, which makes it official. ;) It won't be finished for a long time - it has to be my evenings-and-weekends side-project...but it gives me a little shiver of excitement and happiness every time I think about it.
The paperback of Stolen Magic is coming out in the US and Canada in less than a month and a half: March 25th. I am crossing all of my fingers and toes that it WILL get stocked in more stores this time round, after the hardcover was caught up in last year's B&N/S&S standoff. (If any of you are planning to buy the paperback and feel comfortable asking for it at your local store, I will be so, so, so grateful to you!)
And I'm now really hoping to be able to post an excerpt from the Kat novella by the end of April, giving new readers enough time to have read the paperback of Stolen Magic first! :)
In the meantime, though, this week, I'm focusing on a new freelance project audition, so please wish me luck with that!
Oh, and I just finished reading my favorite new book in a long time, Rachel Neumeier's Black Dog, which I adored. I always like good werewolf stories (heck, I just finished writing a werewolf story of my own, and I may well write more! I like werewolves as a concept), but this one really was a step beyond most that I've read, with a really original take on the mythos and absolutely wonderful characters. You can read my full review on Goodreads - but to sum it up, this really is my very favorite YA werewolf novel so far (and one of my favorite werewolf novels for any age range). Highly, highly recommended!
So. Those are my highlights from the past week. :) What are yours?
August 6, 2013, 2.42 pm
Oh, do I miss sleep. I keep reminding myself that the first 6 weeks of newborn baby-hood are always the worst, and since today is Baby X's three-week birthday, that means that we're halfway through...
OK, moving on...
The best news is that my parents are staying with us for August, which makes such an enormous difference. Right now I feel like I'm operating at survival-level because of sleep deprivation (I've been averaging 3 hours a night for 3 weeks now, which feels brutal), but oh, does it help to have loving parents/grandparents here with us, helping with everything. I am so, so grateful for that.
I'm at the point where I've started to really, really miss fiction writing. I really want to get started on revising Family Magic! I got a couple of fabulous crits for it just before Baby X was born, so I can't wait to dive in again. (And thank you SO MUCH to my Clarion West Write-a-Thon supporters - without that motivation, I would never have finished the full first draft before Baby X was born!)
Pre-birth, I'd been thinking that I'd wait until October to start writing again. Right now, though...well, I need to get my brain functioning first, so it probably won't be until the first 6 weeks are over. (Please let the sleeping situation get better after the first 6 weeks!) But maybe I can start writing again in early September, if I'm lucky?
(Baby X, like MrD before him, is definitely an "up" baby - one who's only happy when he's being held - but MrD did give me lots of practice in writing while I had a baby napping on my lap...)
And I had two really nice pieces of writing-related mail this past week. First, I got my author copies of the gorgeous French edition of Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, apprentie magicienne)! Ohhh, so beautiful.
And then I got my countersigned contract from Simon & Schuster for something that makes me really, really happy...there's going to be a boxset of all three Kat books in paperback next year! I feel giddy when I think about that - I love boxsets, and I am so excited that there's going to be a Kat boxset. Eeee!!!
Right now, though, since I'm not doing a lot of producing fiction, I am devouring a lot of it. I've been re-reading Louise Rennison's Talullah Casey books (starting with Withering Tights). They're not flawless, but oh, are they funny, and they're all set at a fabulously over-the-top performing arts camp/high school, which is particularly fun for me after both attending and working at performing arts camps (and also a music conservatory, which was, well, its own very intense world). The third book, The Taming of the Tights, just came out and was fabulous, my favorite in the series so far.
Also, since I've finally signed up for the UK Netflix, I've caught up on the Avengers-related movies I hadn't seen yet (Iron Man 2 and Captain America). My favorite movie in the series is still The Avengers/Avengers Assemble, followed by Thor, but it was fun to catch up on the others, too. Now I'm debating whether or not to try the spin-off novel by Alisa Kwitney, New Avengers: Breakout, which tells the backstory of Hawkeye and the Black Widow. Have any of you guys read it yet?
July 9, 2013, 11.41 am
Oof. Well, my plan to start writing The Desperate Adventures of the Badger Bandits today was foiled by an unexpected hospital trip which took up most of this morning. (The good news: the baby is fine! The less-good news: I've just picked up a fun new pregnancy condition which means I'm slightly less fine...but I will be absolutely fine fairly soon after the baby is born. So...thank goodness I only have seven days to go!)
Luckily, I'd already written today's blog over at Girls Heart Books, My Favourite Fictional Families. It was really fun to think about (and make tough decisions between!) my very favorite families in fiction...especially since, y'know, I'm pretty obsessed with family books, both as a writer and as a reader.
I'd love to hear about your favorites, either here or there!
And over on the Inkygirl blog, Debbie Ridpath Ohi interviewed me about creative process, childhood wonder, and the Kat books.
And I think that's it for me today! I just finished eating a luscious slice of chocolate cake from my favorite cake shop, which was really comforting after the bad news at the hospital. (Which was really not that bad...just no fun to hear.) In a few minutes MrD will be home, and I'm planning to curl up with him and watch something just for fun like The Princess and the Frog.
I hope you guys are all having a day full of good moments.
February 24, 2012, 11.58 am
Whew. I just finished going through the American copyedits for Kat3 (Stolen Magic), emailed off all my changes to my American editor's assistant, then emailed off the copyedited manuscript to my UK editor (to be further copyedited and then published in just five and a half months as A Reckless Magick)...
...and, yeah. I'm feeling both happy and weirdly tearful about the whole thing. Happy - because reading closely through the manuscript reminded me of how much I love this book (it really is my personal favorite of the whole trilogy) - but tearful, too, because sending off the US copyedits was another way of saying goodbye to the characters.
And, well. Since my last blog entry, I've been really touched by the number of people who wrote to me through my website or commented elsewhere to ask why I'm not planning any more Kat books. I feel weird talking about this kind of thing in public, but enough people have now asked that I feel like I do have to answer. So:
I would love to write more Kat books. When I finished writing Book 1, I told Patrick that I could easily see writing at least ten Kat books! I love reading long, interconnected series like Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody books and Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books, and I would loooove it if Kat could turn into a long series like those. More than that, I know there are an awful lot more adventures in store for her after the end of Book 3, and I'd love to tell those stories.
However. The reality of publishing and life is...I need to try to make a living, which means selling more books. But: my understanding is that my publishers won't be able to make any decisions about whether they want more Kat books until they see sales for multiple books in the series (possibly even for ALL the books in the series, I'm not sure). And since I finished writing Kat 3 in 2010, and the second book in the series still isn't out yet at this point in America...well, there's a lot of writing time in-between!
The honest truth is, if I didn't have to think about making a living, I might have spent the last year and a half writing Kat Book 4, purely for fun...but I do have to make a living, as an adult with a family and bills to pay, and the truth is, it might just be possible to sell another, completely different book well before my publishers are in any position to make up their minds about further Kat books.
(NONE of this entry is meant as a comment or complaint about my sales, btw - I still don't even know how sales are really going for Book 1 in America, much less for the whole series, and that's what decisions will be based on! I'm just trying to be practical about how I focus my work right now, in this period of uncertainty.)
So I've been writing - and while I took the time to say good-bye to Kat after I finished Kat 3, and there was some serious transition time in the middle, I'm finally writing whole-heartedly again, writing new characters and adventures I truly love. I've written before here about how much my new novel-in-progress scares me (in a good way) - and how deeply personal it is, how much I love it. I wouldn't abandon it right now even if I was offered a zillion dollars to write the next Kat book. (Well, OK, maybe if it was a zillion dollars? But not if it was only, oh, say a million or billion... ;p )
On the other hand...in a perfect dreamworld where everything went right, where the Kat books sold a zillion copies, I would finish my current book, my agent and editors would adore it and buy it - and then they'd ask for more Kat books, too. And I would love that.
So I'm not ruling out the possibility of more Kat books in the future - I'm just not counting on it.
But I really, really hope that anyone who likes or loves Kat will also like/love my other heroines just as much.
And whew. That turned out long. Sorry! But I hope this helped to clear up any confusion.
Now I'm going to drink some tea, eat a bowlful of granola in plain yogurt, and magically turn into Mom again, since MrD is home from school at any moment.
And on Monday I'll start working on my new novel again. I can't wait.
PS: And on a completely unrelated note, Patrick just wrote a really smart and useful blog entry for any writer who needs a website: Ten Things Every Author's Website Should Include. Do check it out!
September 24, 2010, 12.33 pm
There's a funny kind of push-and-pull going on in my head as I write any book. On the one hand, there's the part that measures wordcounts, thrills to achievement, and thinks, wow, I'm going to have a whole draft in just a few more months! That's awesome! Then there's the other part that thinks: But I looooove writing this novel! Why can't it just go on forever? Because the truth is, I am never more miserable and ill-at-ease than when I'm between novels.
I guess this is part of why I naturally gravitate toward writing series rather than standalone books. (Well, that and also the fact that series books are always, always my favorite books to read.)
As I write my dragon book, too, I'm reminded of what a great feeling it is to write Book One in a series. This is a difficult thing to talk about well, because I'm afraid of short-changing my other books.
The thing is, I absolutely loved writing Kat Books Two and Three (A Tangle of Magicks and A Reckless Magick). I wrote most of A Tangle of Magicks before I'd even sold the series or had any sales in sight - I wrote it knowing that it was a crazy thing to do, that the smart thing would be to write something totally different, which I could market even if A Most Improper Magick (Kat, Incorrigible) didn't sell. But I loved Kat and her sisters way too much to stop writing about them after just one book, especially when I knew how much fun their next adventures would be. Tangle and Reckless were both books of my heart every bits as much as AMIM was, in every way.
But, but, but...here's the other thing. Later books in a series are HARD. Hard in a way that Book One just never is. In Book One, you're leaping off a cliff. It's easy to fall. But in the next few books (especially when you have an overarching arc, like I do in the Kat books), you have to figure out how to land safely, without breaking any bones...and that's much more difficult. You have to follow all the rules that were set up in Book One, even when they bring difficulties with them that you never foresaw. You have to make each book work on its own even as it builds on every earlier book in the series.
It's difficult and fascinating and challenging work...and it is not-so-coincidental that every book in the Kat trilogy took me longer to write as I progressed. I finished the first draft of Book One in 4 months, Book Two in 8 months, and Book 3 in, er, um...I think it was 14 months? (That one had the added complication of having a new baby in the mix.)
With Book One, the opening that first occurred to me is the same one that's still in the final version, despite many layers of rewriting. For Book Two, I wrote three completely different openings before I found the one that worked. With Book Three, it took me five tries (of about 50 pages each!) before I got it right.
I loved writing those books, I put everything I had into them, and I really, really hope that each of them is better than the last (and so far, that is the feedback that I've gotten for them, thank God)...
...but I have to admit that, now that I'm writing my dragon book, I am really enjoying how much easier it is to be back in Book One mode again. It feels like flying...which, I guess, is only appropriate.
As readers, what are your favorite book series?
Here are some of mine: in kids' fiction, Hilary McKay's Casson Family series (which has a new book coming out next year, woooot!), Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede's Sorcery and Cecilia series and also Caroline Stevermer's Magics series; in adult SF and fantasy, Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series (starting with The Curse of Chalion) and her Miles Vorkosigan series (especially Barrayar and A Civil Campaign); in adult romance fiction, Nora Roberts's Bride quartet, Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series (except for Book 1, which I threw against a wall), and Eloisa James's Duchesses series.
What about you guys?
November 24, 2009, 7.26 pm
Whew! Our early, British Thanksgiving on Saturday was absolutely wonderful. Wonderful company, wonderful food (Patrick did all the cooking for our main meal, so I can say that without smugness! ;) ), and everyone seemed to really enjoy the pecan pie, which was the one dish I contributed.
And ohhh...can I just say how blissful it was to have an excuse to make pecan pie again, for the first time in years? Last year I was too exhausted, post-baby-birth, to cook anything at all, and in the two years beforehand, none of our Thanksgiving guests had liked nuts in any form, so I stopped making it. But pecan pie is my very favorite kind of pie in the world, and I was soooo happy to return to it this year!
And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share some joy around. :)
I've got a whole page of favorite books on my website, and one of my favorites is also the best Thanksgiving-related book I know: Joan Bauer's Squashed. It's probably the funniest YA book I've ever read...and since I first discovered it when I was 13, and have re-read it at least once every couple years since then, I've read it a lot! But I still laugh out loud every single time.
Here's how I described it on my website:
Teenaged Ellie is determined to win the prize for growing giant pumpkins in her local fair AND win the heart of her true love, but she's got a whole array of dangers and enemies stacked against her. Luckily, she has her hilarious family (and one of the funniest dog characters I've ever read) on her side, and she has loads of pluck and determination. This is a comfort read for me - every time I re-read it, it makes me happy.
So this month I'll be giving away a Thanksgiving package that includes:
Two runners-up will also get postcards and "Everything's Better with Highwaymen!" buttons. :) Here's how to win, in two steps:
1. First, let other people know about the competition. If you're on Twitter, you can tweet it like this:
RT @stephanieburgis : Win a Thanksgiving prize pack that includes Joan Bauer's SQUASHED! Find out how: http://tinyurl.com/y9pszde
If you're not on Twitter, just mention the competition on your blog, and make sure to include a link to the rules page on my website.
2. Send me a message through my website letting me know whether you've tweeted or blogged about the competition, AND giving me the names of all three of Kat's siblings (which you can find out on my Meet the Characters page).
This giveaway is open to anybody in the world, and it'll run through Monday, November 30th, at midnight UK time.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
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