Tag: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart

Art, Truffles, Books and Events

- 0 comments - events, giveaways, writing

It’s been a busy, chaotic set of school holidays – but then, I’m not sure we’ve ever had any that weren’t! But the kids and I have been doing Family Art Club almost every day,* we got to hang out with wonderful relatives last week, and I’m still eating the delicious Easter chocolates that Patrick gave me yesterday. (Charbonnel et Walker pink champagne truffles! Bliss!)

Also, I’m finished with all of my major rewrites of Snowspelled (my romantic fantasy novella for adults)! Now I’m just playing around with minor line-edits and trying to catch any final typos and inconsistencies, with the help of wonderful beta-readers…and, of course, Pebbles, who always helps with everything (at least when she’s not walking in front of my laptop screen, telling me to stop writing and START PETTING HER)! ;)

Snowspelled won’t be coming out until September, so I’ll wait a while before talking much more about it here, but: I am so looking forward to sharing this one with you guys! (If you want to make sure to get all the details of it ASAP, you can sign up to my newsletter.)

And! It was a sign of just exactly how chaotic our school holidays have been that it was a genuine shock today to realize that the North American edition of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is coming much sooner than I’d realized – May 30th is only 6 weeks from tomorrow! Woooot! (And eep!)

Next week, I’ll be giving away my very last ARC of it in my newsletter. If you’re a North American book reviewer/blogger/librarian, you can still request the e-ARC from Netgalley. And of course you can read Chapter 1 here and order the book from anywhere in the world!

I really, really hope you’ll enjoy meeting my fierce dragon-girl heroine!

And right here in Wales, I’ll be leading a fantasy & science fiction writing workshop for teens and adults as part of the Abergavenny Writing Festival this Friday. You can buy your tickets here! I’ll also be leading a dragon-themed workshop for younger kids at the Abergavenny Library on Wednesday from 2:30-3:30.

So it’s a busy week all round, but in a really good way. I hope your week is full of good adventures!

__

*Re Art Club: I am not one of those authors who is also a wonderful artist. But one of the great joys of having kids, for me, is letting myself do things with them that I made myself stop when I was younger because I didn’t think I was good enough. It turns out – shock! surprise! – that it’s *fun* to draw, even though I don’t draw well, when I just relax and let myself enjoy the process.

There is probably an important lesson in that…and maybe sometime when I’m a little less busy, I’ll let myself actually think it through. ;)

Deadlines, Tie-in Stories, and Two Workshops

- 0 comments - writing

It’s been Quite A Week over here in Wales. It started with a beautiful, sunny UK Mother’s Day last Sunday, which was wonderful, but then both of my kids caught a stomach bug over the last few days, so…yeah. I’ll leave the gruesome details from this latter half of the week to your imagination! ;)

On the upside, though, I still managed to get through my first big revision of my adult romantic fantasy novella Snowspelled this week, powered by rich, dark hot chocolates. Huzzah! I sent the new draft off to critique partners late this morning, and since I’m not expecting edits for my next MG novel until Sunday or Monday, I am – for the first time in a looooong time – temporarily deadline-free!

Needless to say, I immediately started trying to think of a new short story to write before my edits arrive. I don’t do very well without an ongoing writing project to keep me busy. ;)

And speaking of short stories, my Kat prequel story (about her parents when they were young), “Forbidden Magic,” will be published as a 99-cent ebook in just 5 days, on April 5th. You can find a full description, a brief excerpt, and the pre-order links here.

I originally wrote that story on commission earlier this year, for a charity auction winner who requested a story about Kat’s parents. It’s so much fun to write those tie-in stories! I love doing it. Of course I’m already contemplating my first tie-in stories for The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. So far, though, my ideas have all been for stories following that first book, so I’ll have to wait until the book is safely out in America (on May 30th! less than 2 months away!) before I start writing (or at least sharing) them.

Still, if you’ve read the book and have any particular characters you’d love to read about in a tie-in story, do let me know, and I’ll make sure to keep them in mind!

And if you’re interested in talking more about writing with me, I’m going to be running two different writing workshops over the next month.

On Friday, April 21st, I’ll be running a science fiction and fantasy writing workshop for adults and teens, as part of the Abergavenny Writing Festival. You can find more details and book your ticket here.

And on Wednesday, April 19th, from 2:30-3:30, I’ll be running a dragon-themed writing workshop for kids at the Abergavenny Library. (No tickets necessary!) My 8-year-old is VERY excited about that one. :)

I’d love to see any of you guys at either of those workshops! Do let me know if you’ll be coming.

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Butterflies, Cats, Ice Giants and Temptation

- 4 comments - writing

I think my favorite discovery of my adult life has been butterfly houses. Back when Patrick and I lived in Vienna for 6 months in 2002, we had VERY little money, but we loved visiting the Imperial Butterfly House at the Hofburg Palace – we went there for my 25th birthday and again any time we could justify it, because it was so lovely to walk around the palm trees with butterflies flitting all around us. Last year, we learned that there’s a butterfly house not too far away from our home in Wales, so we went there for my 39th birthday, too, and we went back again this past weekend.

Sadly, I have no pictures to share (because all of mine include very happy little boys whose online privacy I’m trying to respect). But it was a VERY happy moment in our family’s weekend. :)

What I do have, of course, is dozens and dozens of pictures of Pebbles, because I can’t resist taking adoring photos of her every day. The M.E./CFS means I have to spend quite a bit of time every day lying down – but who minds lying down when they have such a sweet cat purring on their chest? And PhotoBooth makes it irresistibly tempting to take photos of her every day as she does it. I am restraining myself with a HUGE EFFORT from posting all of them here (because I know not EVERYBODY is in love with our new cat and really wants to pore through dozens of them)! But here is one picture of her sleeping. (Click on the photo to see it in full-size.)

Just one cat-photo per blog entry isn’t too over-the-top…is it? (Maybe don’t answer that question!)

And it’s been a busy week of writing. I finished up the first three chapters of my new MG project (tentatively titled A Grumpy Princess’s Guide to Ice Giants & Other Catastrophes) and sent them to my agent, who liked them, hurrah! Whether or not it will be my next contracted book (to be published in 2019) will depend partly on sales for The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (since they’re set in the same fantasy world), so…in other words, now would be a lovely time to buy (or pre-order) The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart if you haven’t already! Because I would loooooove to be able to write the rest of my grumpy princess’s guide. It’s so much fun!

Next week I’ll be diving into edits for my spies-and-fairies MG book (to be published by Bloomsbury in 2018 – I just saw a first cover sketch for the US edition!), which I’m really looking forward to…and in the meantime, I’ve been working on my first revisions to my adult romantic-fantasy novella, Snowspelled, which should come out later this year.

So I’ve been busy with lots of different fun projects! And it’s been great to have a Pebbles-cat cuddled up against me as I work.

But I WILL NOT break down and post another photo of her now. Must…resist…temptation…must! ;)

(Ending this entry NOW before I lose control and post ALL OF THEM!)

Talking About Dragons

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I had really big news last week: I got my first-ever starred review, and it came from Kirkus Reviews, for The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart! Woooot! I am so happy about this. Kirkus called it “A gloriously fresh story to be read with a steaming cup of chocolate at hand” – and you can read the full review here.

There was a LOT of happy-dancing in our household after that was announced! :)

And speaking of dragons, I had a great time guesting on one of my favorite podcasts, Bellwether Friends, which is run by a pair of fabulous librarians who’ve been Twitter-friends of mine for years. I’ve been listening to the podcast for years, so it was a total thrill to be invited to guest on it, and I loved getting to finally hang out with Anna and Alene in…well, not quite in person, but at least via Skype! Basically, since it was me and two librarians mutually geeking out about dragons, the whole podcast is filled with recommendations for lots and lots of dragon-related books and movies in multiple genres and for all age groups (ranging from picturebooks to adult paranormal romance). So: I hope you’ll have your library card ready when you listen! :) The episode went up today, and you can listen to it here or download it through iTunes.

(I should note in my own self-defense that we recorded this just a few days after my trip to England, when I was in the middle of a massive post-trip M.E. crash, so if I’m occasionally a little inarticulate, please put it down to my exhaustion! But I had so much fun anyway.)

Let me know if there are any books/movies we should have mentioned but forget! I always love adding to my list. :)

US Cover art by Petur Antonssen

And speaking of reading lists…are you a book-blogger, librarian, bookseller or reviewer in the US or Canada? If so, check it out: the e-ARC of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (North American edition) is up on Netgalley now! Hurrah!

Of course, if you’re in the UK or Australia, you can buy the published book now, and if you’re in North America you can pre-order it as a hardcover or an ebook – less than 3 months left before its May 30th pub date, huzzah! And it recently sold Polish and Romanian rights as well as French and German, so I hope to be announcing more international publication dates soon.

Finally, I have one shockingly NON-dragon-related rec to make: Lin-Manuel Miranda curated this salsa playlist on Spotify (any Parks & Rec fans will recognize the reference in its name!), and I’ve been listening to it nearly nonstop for the past few days. Perfect music for getting moving…even if only one some writing work! ;)

Amazing News and a Thank-You Gift

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This week started with amazing news: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is already going into a second printing, less than a week after its UK publication!

You guys are wonderful.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who’s already bought this book, reviewed this book, checked it out from a library or spread the word about it. I appreciate you all SO MUCH! (And please do keep writing reviews on Amazon and elsewhere – they help so much!)

So I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to say thank you…and here it is.

For anyone who’s bought my book since it came out, who’s pre-ordered it or added it to their Goodreads TBR list, who’s written a blog entry about looking forward to it or reviewed it on Amazon or elsewhere:

There’s one particular set of lines in my book that my acquiring editor at Bloomsbury quoted when she explained why she wanted to publish it in the first place. They’re lines that apply to an awful lot of us – even the ones who haven’t started out with real, visible dragon scales.

And Jenn Reese turned them into a sticker design for me! (Just click on the image to see it full-size.)

So: No matter where you live, if you’d like a sticker (or 2 stickers, one to keep and one to give away!), just email me at steph @ stephanieburgis . com (deleting the spaces in-between the words) with your postal address. There’s no immediate limit to this offer – I’ll send them to any individual who emails me and asks, until I finally run out of them! :)

And for some more good news: I just got the official confirmation that Dragon is going to be published in France, too! It sold in a two-book deal (with its sequel, my spies-and-fairies book, coming next!) to Gallimard Jeunesse. Hurrah! My fierce dragon-girl heroine will be roaring in three languages. :) (It’s being published in Germany in August!) I don’t have a publication date for the French edition yet, but I’ll add that to the webpage as soon as I find it out.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Dragon Unleashed!

- 0 comments - New Publications

Hooray! The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is out TODAY in the U.K.

(But whoops, that all got a lot more rhyme-y than I’d intended. Sorry! I’m a little bit giddy right now, as you can probably tell. But the book itself doesn’t rhyme, I promise! ;) It’s not that sort of book at all, as you can tell if you read the first chapter.)

It all started late one night, about 2 years and 4 months ago. I’d finally, finally gotten my younger son (still a baby) to sleep, so I’d turned off the light and was just starting to fall asleep myself (and oh, I DESPERATELY needed that sleep, by then!)…when suddenly an opening and a heroine flashed simultaneously into my mind.

A delicious opening.

A wonderful, fierce dragon-girl.

A passion for chocolate.

Ohhh!

I couldn’t wait. For the first time in months, I didn’t even care about sleep!

I jerked upright, opened up my laptop, and with the light from the screen casting an eerie glow through the darkened bedroom, I started to type.

Once I’d finished writing down the first scene, I went to bed smiling, with all the different characters playing through my head all night long.

I am so happy that I finally get to share them with you guys!

The Bookseller calls it an “irresistible fantasy adventure”; School Library Journal calls it “a delicious fantasy treat that will satisfy readers who hunger for feel-good tales that pack a girl-power punch, like Gail Carson Levine‚Äôs Ella Enchanted or the movie Moana“; and in a lovely, serendipitous book-birthday gift, the UK’s Reading Agency has just selected it (in an announcement made today!) for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge (a program my own kids take part in every year through their local library – so I am REALLY excited to see my book on this list)!

You can find The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (or request it) at any physical bookshop in the UK, and you can order it from any online bookseller. I’m afraid there’s a little longer still to wait for Australians (who will get it on March 1st) and North Americans (who will get it on May 30th)…

…But if you do read it now, will you please let me know what you think? I have been waiting SO LONG to talk about it with you guys! I want to know who your favorite characters are! And what your draconic passion would be! (Trust me, that question will make far more sense once you’ve read the book. I promise!)

And if you’re able to take the time to write even just a very short review on Amazon or elsewhere, I will be so very grateful. ALL reviews, good and bad, make such a huge difference to a book’s success!

And I ALWAYS love seeing pictures of the book out in the wild. :)

Sadly, my poor 8-year-old is home ill today, so I can’t go out to celebrate the official book birthday. But I can’t wait for the launch party on Saturday – I’d love to see any of you guys there! And today, I’m having a yummy at-home party courtesy of my agent, as you can see. Mmmmm! The perfect way to celebrate this chocolate-filled book.

Thank you guys so much for celebrating with me. Chocolate to everybody!

Cats and Dragons

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It’s been a tough couple of weeks, between my horror at so much of the recent political news (in both the US and the UK) and my personal grief over losing our sweet old dog, Maya. We will never, ever forget her.

But there are some really wonderful things happening this week for our family…and one of the most important ones happened this weekend. Meet Pebbles! (And as always, if you click on the picture, you can see a larger image.)

Pebbles is about two years old, and we found her through Usk New Start Cat Rescue. She has an amazing purr, she loooooves being petted – and our whole family feels very lucky to have found her.

She was nervous at first but has gotten more and more relaxed and comfortable every day. Unfortunately, tonight will be her first trip with us to the vets, for a vaccination and also treatment for a minor eye infection – I hope it won’t be too much of a shock/betrayal for her! Please cross your fingers for us – and if any of you are cat-owners, I’d love to hear about your favorite cat toys (or see pictures of your pets)! While we were waiting to collect her, I asked friends on Facebook (in a public post, visible to everybody) to share cat pictures and cat stories, and it turned into a really lovely thread – definitely worth checking out if you could do with some adorable cat pictures right now!

Meanwhile, my wonderful local Waterstones is gearing up for my upcoming launch party in the most amazing ways!

Abergavenny Kids just posted an interview with me about both the book and the launch party – which is only five days away now! I hope to see some of you guys there.

The official UK publication date is February 9th (this Thursday!), but it’s already in stock at lots of Waterstones and Foyles branches and online bookstores – and I would love to know whether it’s in stock yet at independent bookstores too! If anyone glimpses it on a shelf in any shop or library, please let me know – or better yet, take a photo and send it to me! I would LOVE to see those pictures.

I’m sorry that North American and Australian readers have longer to wait! It’s coming out in Australia on March 1st and in North America on May 30th. But no matter where you live, you can read Chapter One online now!

I finished the first draft of my first adult romantic fantasy novella (Snowspelled) last Friday, so now I’m working on my new short-short story about Kat’s mother (on commission for the winner of my last charity auction item!), and then I’ll leap back into my next MG novel, which is all about grumpy princesses, goblin girls, and really annoying older sisters who think they rule the world (because they do).

…or at least, I will if I can convince Pebbles that she should let me use my hands for writing instead of typing. (You wouldn’t believe how long it’s taken me just to type this blog entry! Silly kitty…but very, very soft kitties with loud purrs can be very persuasive about things like this, as I’ve discovered in the last few days.)

Happy Monday!

Chalk Art and Joy and Chocolate

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I’ve always loved my local Waterstones and felt really lucky, too, in how supportive they’ve always been of my books. It’s an incredibly warm, welcoming environment in every way, and my family visits it at least once a week as readers, so of course it was the natural place to host my launch party for The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart.

But I still never expected this.

And OF COURSE I had to head straight in to town this afternoon to check it out in person!

I am in awe of the staff member who created this chalk art, replicating the front cover of the book so perfectly. And the way it felt for me to see it there, filling up that familiar blackboard over the counter in the shop I’ve been visiting with my family and loving ever since I first moved to Wales 7 years ago…

It felt amazing. It feels amazing.

I am really, really lucky to have such a wonderful local bookstore, and such a supportive one, too.

And naturally, I can never walk out of a bookshop without a new book for myself, too! I’ve been hearing wonderful things about Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch for ages, and just check out how gorgeous this cover is. How could I resist?

It’s 3 weeks and two days until the launch party. (We discussed the food for it today, and oh yes, there WILL be chocolate!)

It’s three weeks exactly until The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes out in the UK. Chapter One is already online. Everything’s ready.

I cannot wait to share it with you guys!

Disasters, Hot Chocolate Strategies, And an Opening Chapter

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Alas, yesterday’s hot chocolate experiment was such a disaster, I’m not even going to report the fine details here (except to say: TEN CARDAMOM PODS IS DEFINITELY TOO MUCH)! On the upside, though, my 8-year-old has volunteered to join with me in the experimentation process, making his own search for a new favorite hot chocolate recipe – and I have to admit (with mingled pride and envy) that his own hot chocolate experiment yesterday was FAR better than mine! Still, we’re both planning to do some fine-tuning today with our next round of experiments when he gets back home from school.

(If you want some context for this quest for hot chocolate perfection, check out the blog entry I posted this weekend. I WILL come up with a perfect pair of new recipes, I swear it!)

And check out this fabulous piece from The Guardian that was forwarded to me by Joanna Murray! The writer, Felicity Cloake, rounds up lots of different hot chocolate recipes using various approaches, then offers her own favorite recipe. I don’t think it would work for me because of how little I personally like milk chocolate – but if you do like milk chocolate, you should definitely check it out! And I loved reading about all the different methods.

In more chocolate-themed news, it’s one month exactly until The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes out in the UK – and in celebration, you can read Chapter One on my website now! I really hope that you enjoy it. :)

Of course, you can pre-order the book now, using this handy set of links (thank you to my website-designing husband for that! :) ) –

– and if you’re in the US or Canada, while you have longer to wait for the final book, you can enter this Goodreads giveaway for an ARC, too. Good luck!

Now I’m back to plotting out my next attempt at a perfect cardamom hot chocolate. Please wish me luck!

Knitting, Sneak-Writing, and Books of All Sorts

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Our Christmas tree is still sparkling in the corner of our living room, five days later. It was a lovely, busy Christmas with the kids – and I got all three of my knitted gifts finished in time. Whew! :) Now I’m knitting a scarf for myself with the lush, gorgeous cornflower-blue wool that Patrick got me for Christmas, which fills me with utter delight. (I only ever knit in the autumn and winter, but oh do I love knitting during those seasons! Total stress-relief – especially when the wool is this soft and rich and beautiful.)

Since the kids have been off school and we’ve been celebrating Christmas with the extended family, I’ve only managed to sneak-write little bits and pieces of my new novella (Snowspelled) at a rate of about 50 words a day – just enough to keep me in touch with the project (and slowly but surely move along the fun kissing scene I’d started just before the holidays). But this morning I woke up with a massive realization:

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes out in the UK just 6 weeks from today!

Eeee! And: eep! I have SO MUCH of my heart wrapped up in this book. I really hope you guys will like it!

It’s a strange feeling to have three novels come out within 10 months. I felt as if Masks and Shadows had only just come out when Congress of Secrets arrived at the beginning of November. (And hurrah, I was SO pleased to see both of them on this list of 7 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books of 2016!) Now I’m already excited and nervous about The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, my return to MG fantasy. It’s been a very, very lucky publishing year for me.

It’s been a lucky time for me as a reader, too. Just check out my Christmas book haul!

I’ve already started Game of Queens, and it is fabulous – the kind of rich, fascinating history book that makes ideas for new stories spark on almost every page.

And look what arrived in the mail yesterday!

This Would Make a Good Story Someday is SO much fun – which isn’t at all surprising, since Dana Levy’s The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher is one of my favorite-ever MG books. (This one is a standalone spin-off of the Family Fletcher books, and it’s coming out in May. I was so excited to get an advance copy!)

What about you guys? What were your favorite holiday gifts, if you exchanged any? And/or: what are you looking forward to in the next year?