Blog

Snow Day, Guilt Mode, and One Final Chance

- 0 comments

It’s a snow day! (Quite literally, for all of the schools and many of the businesses in our small town.) For the first time in about 6 years, our part of Wales is blanketed in gorgeous white snow, and the kids and Patrick and I are loving it. (Pebbles, on the other hand, is DEEPLY disconcerted by it and wants the world to go back to normal, please, as soon as possible!)

Between the beautiful, rare snow (we have an actual snowman in our back garden for the first time in YEARS!) and the fact that we set up our Christmas tree on Thursday, it’s been easy to feel festive despite the fact that it’s been a fairly rough week in other ways.

Last week, both kids got a feverish cold which developed into different kinds of ear infections, one for each of them, and led to far too much missed school; I picked up the feverish cold and ran a fever for three days straight, which really knocked me out (I am SO GLAD it’s all gone now!); and as glad as I am that my kids got a snow day today (because I still remember how great those felt when I was a kid!), it is, ah…not SO great in terms of my own productivity. Oops!

I was planning to finish my Snowspelled-related novelette Spellswept by Friday, and I was only about 1200 words from the ending by the end of Thursday…but between one thing and another, I’m still about 1000 words from that ending. Sigh. I’m also ridiculously behind in multiple critiques that I’d promised to friends (including Patrick!), so in other words I am in Deep Guilt Mode. I sneak-wrote 63 words yesterday and 125 words today, and I might fit in just a bit more tonight before bed, but…ah well. Maybe I’ll get some work done on the train tomorrow, for the first time ever? ;)

Anyway: tomorrow I’m heading for London to attend a fun publishing party and have brunch with my agent, so life is pretty good regardless. Now I just have to figure out what to pack, because – to say the least – I was not factoring snow into my expectations for this trip when I first figured out a party outfit a few weeks ago! It is definitely time to drag my big pouffy winter coat out of the attic.

And! It is also time for One Final Chance to decide which of my characters (from any of my books!) should get a short story of their own. I’ll be picking a winner tonight before bed (probably around 10pm UK-time/5pm EST), so don’t miss your chance!

Happy snow day. :)

Guest Blog: Adrian Tchaikovsky, One Foot in Each World

- 0 comments - guest blog, writing

It’s impossible to spend time in the f/sf section of a British bookstore without noticing Adrian Tchaikovsky’s impressive number of published books – but the most impressive thing for me about his career so far has been just how varied it’s been, as he’s gone back and forth between fantasy, science fiction, and even Regency-style alternate history, winning awards along the way.

So I was really happy to host this guest blog from Adrian (on the occasion of his latest book release, Dogs of War) discussing his shifts between genres across his career.

***

One foot in each world: Writing SF and Fantasy

I started off with a title about having one foot on a dragon and the other on a rocket ship, but the mental image produced was too exquisitely painful. I suspect, to be honest, that to readers outside our little nested genres, the difference between SF and fantasy is rather small – that one has dragons and the other spaceships is probably about it. To those of us living in the microcosm, though, it can seem an insuperable divine. I started off as a fantasy writer back in 2008 and for rather a long time, seven years, that was what I did, and not a spaceship to be seen. Looking back over the sort of things I was writing prior to Shadows of the Apt finding first an agent and then a publisher, it was also mostly fantasy, or if it was SF, it was a sort of Dying Earth/New Sun-set SF that had thoroughly fantastical sensibilities even if the underlying message was that there was a scientific explanation for everything, except nobody left had enough understanding of the science to figure it out (digression: I absolutely love that kind of stuff to read – Vance, Wolfe, Harrison, Bishop, all that post-collapse sci-fantasy stuff. I will write one and get it out there one day, but it’s a hard sell).

However, I will go so far as to say there is an undercurrent of the SFnal in my fantasy, just a little. The technological ramp-up within Shadows is probably the most obvious. The artificers of the Insect-kinden are doing SF stuff, it’s just that their weird-ass technology is not ours, so they solve familiar problems in unfamiliar ways (see Banjacs Gripshod’s bonkers anti-air defence in The Air War for example). On a larger note, fantasy narratives are frequently very conservative in overall structure – the status quo is good, the bad buys break it, the bad guys are defeated, the status quo is restored/king returns etc. SF narratives feel to me as if they’re often more directional – things are discovered or devised, the world won’t ever be the same again. I tried to put a bit of that sensibility into Shadows in that neither the technological nor the political change is going back in the box any time soon.

I have always read fantasy SF and the rare gems that sit along the dividing line with a fairly omnivorous eye, and I have something of a science background (although my psych/zoo lecturers at Reading University would probably have suggested my essays were heavier on the fiction than the science). Trying my hand at SF was probably inevitable so long as I had enough sales to maintain my publisher’s goodwill. Received publishing wisdom was and is that fantasy is by far the bigger seller, though, which makes SF a harder thing to sell to your publisher most of the time. As it happened, the book I actually wrote about spiders from space turned out mystifyingly well, which left me with the aforementioned one foot on either side and held the door open to putting out more SF. Hence my novella, Ironclads, and my new novel, Dogs of War.

Writing SF is a qualitatively different experience to writing fantasy. There’s a definite shift in where the work goes. Fantasy involves more free creation for me – setting my own rules and then extrapolating from them. I am conscientious enough about the science in my SF that I at least try to do due diligence with research, although there’s always that “unknown unknowns” barrier because you don’t necessarily realise where the gaps in your knowledge are (until kind readers point them out!). There’s also the “one big lie” trope (introduced to me by engineer and superb science advisor Nick Bradbeer) where you can kind of get away with the great big non-science thing that the book is based around, but you shore it up by making the rest of your science as watertight as possible. In Children of Time, weirdly, the lie is not the spiders themselves, but the nanovirus that acts (initially) as a plot device to accelerate what I felt was a plausible natural evolution for them.

Going forward, I am definitely hoping to keep my feet right where they are. I have my current fantasy series Echoes of the Fall finishing up early 2018, and am currently writing a Children of Time sequel with a further SF book to come after, but I have a list of fantasy projects backed up and waiting for a publisher as well. Writing fantasy and writing SF seem to fulfil linked but separate needs in me, and I’m hoping to hold on to both. And maybe one day I’ll get out that sci-fantasy dying-earth novel I’ve always wanted to do.

***

Adrian Tchaikovsky is a keen live role-player and occasional actor, fantasy author and winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award. You can find more information about him and his books on his website.

Story Giveaway

- 2 comments - giveaways

Wow! Snowspelled has hit 75 reviews on Amazon – which means that it’s time for my promised short story giveaway! Just comment on this public Facebook post to let me know which character (from any of my published books) deserves a story of their own – and also if there’s a particular part of their backstory or future story that you want to know about. (For instance, previous commissioned stories have been written to fulfil requests like: “I want to see Kat grown up with children of her own!” or “I want a story about Kat’s mom when she was young.”)

The giveaway is open for one week (and of course it is international). At the end of the week, I’ll use Random.org to help me select a random winner. I’ll write the commissioned story within 2 months, send the first copy to the winner, and then share it with my newsletter subscribers before offering it for sale anywhere else.

I can’t wait to find out who I’ll be writing about next! And I am SO grateful to everyone who’s taken the time to review Snowspelled.

December Lights: The Dragon with an Unbearable Family

- 0 comments - December Lights, Short Fiction

Several years ago, Patrick and I organized a month-long event called The December Lights Project, where a different writer every day contributed a free online short story to light up a month that can feel awfully dark and cold. There was always one guarantee, regardless of genre: readers would always get a happy ending in each story, because this project was a holiday gift.

Every year since then, I’ve wished I had the spare time and energy to organize a second December Lights project that year – but since I haven’t had those luxuries lately, I’ve made a new habit of sharing a free short story of my own here on my blog as a holiday gift for my readers on the first day of December every year. (And any other writer who reads this is warmly invited to share the habit any time this month if you feel like it and have the time! :) )

This year’s story is a prequel that I wrote to The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, and I wrote it for the winner of a charity auction, who asked for a story from the perspective of Citrine (Aventurine’s maddeningly perfect older sister)…because even the most disapproving older sisters have their own stories to tell! ;) Since it’s set several years before the full novel begins, it should work just fine for readers who haven’t read Aventurine’s own story yet.

I hope that you’ll enjoy it!

***

The Dragon with an Unbearable Family

By Stephanie Burgis

Dedicated to Nicky Anderson, with thanks

The worst thing about Mother’s awful new hatchlings wasn’t even their smell, horrifying though it was.

It wasn’t even the infernal racket they both made, roaring and brawling up and down the long tunnels of their home until the whole mountain seemed to rattle with their din, and Citrine’s long, sharp teeth rattled in her head, too.

No, the real problem with her younger siblings, when it came right down to it, was…

“They are barbarians!” Citrine threw down her elegant bone-pen directly in front of her sleeping mother’s snout, sending showers of gold flying up in its wake. “Just look at what they’ve done now!”

Mother’s great golden eyes slitted half-open as coins cascaded against her scales. A weary sigh escaped her mouth, but she left her chin propped on a comfortable pile of rubies and emeralds. “Are you complaining about your brother and sister again?”

“They are not my brother and sister,” Citrine said. “They can’t be! They are horrors. I’ll wager someone slipped replacement eggs into your nest when you weren’t looking, and that’s how they got there!”

“Citrine…”

Look.” Citrine hated leaking smoke without meaning to; it was improper, and unworthy of any mature dragon. But she couldn’t help the puffs of anguish that escaped her nostrils as she emptied the pile of ash from her left foreclaw.

Mother drew in a long breath, her head shifting. “What – ?”

My poem,” Citrine told her.

“Oh, no. Not – ”

“My epic poem!” Smoke poured out in waves from Citrine’s snout as if she were a useless, out-of-control little hatchling herself. She kneaded her claws restlessly through the piled gold beneath her. “I’ve been working on it for the last two years.”

“Oh, I know.” Mother heaved herself up, shaking coins and jewelry off her massive back. “Can you rewrite it now, quickly, while – ”

“Rewrite it?!” A smokeball exploded out through Citrine’s throat, rocketing toward the far wall of the cavern, and she clamped her claws over her mouth in humiliation. “Mother, if you had any idea – !”

“Never mind.” Mother sighed. “Perhaps it was only an accident, or – ”

“It was not.” Citrine clamped her teeth together, vibrating with fury.

Just because she’d called Aventurine an ignorant little menace who didn’t deserve to share her cavern or her family…

She’d heard them both laughing as they’d galloped away from the hidey-hole where she’d carefully stored her poem last night. Laughing!

“I’ll give them a stern talking-to,” Mother promised.

“Don’t bother,” Citrine snarled.

She’d witnessed those lectures before. They never worked. Jasper was too distractible to be quelled for long, and as for Aventurine, who never listened to anyone

“I will deal with them myself,” she said.

“Citrine,” Mother began.

But Citrine was already striding out through the cavern entrance, making her own plans.

They’ll see.

She might not choose to waste her fire and strength on indiscriminate nonsense, the way some barbaric hatchlings did, but when she was ready…

Her vision was turned so far inward, she almost crashed into the massive, bulky figure that filled the entire tunnel before her.

“Grandfather!” She pulled up just in time. “Forgive me, I – ”

“I heard.” Her grandfather towered over her, looking down with enigmatic golden eyes. “A word of advice for you, youngling.”

“I – !” Citrine swallowed down the instinctive words of protest just in time.

Compared to Grandfather, they were all younglings, even Mother – and Grandfather never tolerated disrespect. So she lowered her eyes, breathing in deeply.

Grandfather’s puff of laughter splashed heat across her scales. “Well done,” he murmured. “Now, then. You’re charging off to devour your young siblings, I take it?”

The idea was so delightful, she let out a wistful sigh. “I can’t,” she said regretfully. “Mother would never forgive me.”

“Good girl.” Grandfather nodded. “In that case…?”

“I’m going to burn every single thing they’ve ever collected,” she said fiercely. “I’m going to crush every jewel, burn every little human book—”

“And what exactly do you think that will accomplish?” He cocked his giant head, waiting patiently.

“It’ll show them!” she said passionately. “It’ll show them that they can’t disrespect me or else – or else…” She stumbled to a halt, panting. “Oh, stones and bones!”

“Exactly.” Grandfather gave a low growl of approval. “What do you think your younger sister wanted in the first place but to force you down to her own level?”

“Grrrrrr!” Smoke spat out from Citrine’s nostrils as she imagined Aventurine’s impudent smirk later that day. I guess you’re not so civilized after all, are you, Citrine? “I will never be like her!”

She would never grant Aventurine that victory.

But if not…

“Ohhhh,” she breathed. “Oh!”

“I knew you would think of something.” Grandfather turned, squeezing his way around in the tight tunnel. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, some of us were trying to nap.”

But Citrine had no time for any rest that day. She had far too much to plan.

When her younger siblings finally slunk back into the family cavern, hours later, she was ready for them.

A circle had been cleared in amongst the piled gold.

Two brand-new bone pens had been fashioned.

Blank cow-skin hides lay stretched out, waiting.

Every adult in the family crouched beyond them, waiting, too.

“Ah…” Jasper skidded to a halt first, eyes widening. “What – ?”

Aventurine swaggered in after him, smoke snorting cheekily from her nostrils. “Anything interesting happen while we were gone?” She shot a fearless wink straight at Citrine.

Citrine looked back at her and smiled, baring all of her teeth.

“You were right, Aventurine,” she said. “You are ready to join in with all of the rest of us, after all.”

“I – am?” Wings mantling in shock, Aventurine reared back, glancing from one watching adult dragon to another. “But…really? Do you actually think so?”

“Of course,” Citrine said sweetly. “We all agree on that…which is why you and Jasper are going to be the ones to write down my new epic poem for me. Every single day until it’s finished. For hours! Taking down my dictation word-for-word, with Grandfather and our aunts all checking to make sure that you catch every last detail without any mistakes.”

“What?!” Aventurine stumbled backward, eyes flaring wide with real panic for the first time since she had originally tumbled out of her egg and shattered Citrine’s perfect world into chaos. “But – but – don’t you want to just have a fight instead, and get it all over with?”

“Why would I fight with my own sister?” Smoke gathered in Citrine’s nostrils, and for once, she gleefully let it out – aimed exactly at where she wanted it to land: the tell-tale pile of ash that sat between her and the two hatchlings, a silent reminder of what they’d done. “Isn’t this what you wanted, Aventurine?”

The look of horror in her obnoxious younger sister’s eyes was everything she had ever dreamed of.

“Excellent,” Mother said briskly, striding forward. “You’ll begin tomorrow, all of you. And now, as for the dirt on your scales, hatchlings…”

As Citrine sat back, smirking, her grandfather breathed his words softly into her ear. “Family,” he said, “is every dragon’s greatest treasure.”

“Mmm…” Citrine said doubtfully.

His eyes glittered with amusement as he gazed down at her. “I am proud of you for your achievement, youngling. You just took down the most unmanageable young dragon I’ve ever met…except for one.”

“One?” Citrine cocked her head curiously, her tail twitching. “Which one do you mean?” Who could ever be as unmanageable as Aventurine?

The look he gave her was unmistakable.

“What? Wait, no!” Citrine reared back in horror. “I was never – !”

But he was already moving toward the door, his chuckles leaving perfectly formed balls of smoke all the way between her and her unbearable, impossible younger sister, who was absolutely nothing like her and never would be.

Family!” Citrine growled after him, like a curse…

Just as she saw Aventurine mouth exactly the same epithet.

They stopped short, staring at each other in horrified disbelief.

It was the first time they had ever been in perfect agreement.

Citrine swore to herself that she would never let it happen again.

THE END

(You can read the first chapter of Aventurine’s own adventure here.)

Dragon Mugs, Spellswept, and Good News

- 2 comments

It’s cold and bright outside today, with snow on top of the mountains around our town. Luckily, Pebbles is snuggled up on my legs as I type this, and I’ve just finished drinking a big, hot latte (in my favorite dragon mug), so I’m feeling cozy and warm. After I finish this post, I’ll get back to work on Spellswept, a prequel novelette to Snowspelled. This time I’m telling Amy and Jonathan’s story! It’s so much fun to write.

Someone’s already created a Goodreads link for Spellswept, so you can add it to your shelf there if you’d like. It will come out first in a very cool anthology early next year (announcements to be made soon!) and then be reissued as a single ebook about six months later.

Of course, if you’d like an early look at Spellswept, the best thing to do is always to sign up for my newsletter, since not only do I share early excerpts of my stories there, but that’s also where I tend to ask for beta-readers for my ebooks before they’re published. (I’ll also be sending out a new Dragon with a Chocolate Heart tie-in short story to all of my newsletter readers next month!)

It’s been a good couple of weeks for book-news over here. My editor liked my revisions to The Girl with the Dragon Heart (Silke’s book, due out late 2018) – huzzah! And The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart was shortlisted for four (!!!) different awards in the UK: the Leeds Book Award (9-11 category) 2018, the East Sussex Children’s Book Award 2018, the Ealing Junior Book Award 2018, and the Worcestershire’s Awesomest Book Award 2018. They all come with awards ceremonies where the authors get to meet the kids who voted to shortlist their books, and I can’t wait to attend as many of them as possible! Across the Atlantic, Dragon was also on the Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids List 2017 (in the MG fiction section), which was really lovely to see.

And in nice personal news, Patrick and I have been reorganizing our house lately (because now that both kids are in full-time school, we actually have the time to do this at long last!) and we’ve finally figured out a way to write in the same room again. We always used to write in the same place, but in our current house, the office is just too small for two people to work there at once (especially since the M.E. means I need to be in a reclining position as I write). So we’d been working in separate rooms for the last year and a half – but now that we’ve rejigged the furniture layout, we’re finally back in the same room, which feels SO much better.

Not only is it just nice to be companionable, but it is SO motivating to work with another writer in the same room! Whenever I’m feeling slow or uninspired, it really helps to look up, see him typing away, and immediately feel motivated to match that productivity.

And of course (as pictured – click on the image for a larger version) Pebbles is always there to help! ;) (Her main comment: “More cats in this manuscript, please!”)

Wishing you guys a good week with lots of warmth and any hot drinks that feel comforting to you. :)

Purring, Baking, and Strange Practice

- 0 comments

It’s a bright, cold day here in Wales, and Pebbles is purring on my chest. This morning, I sent my wonderful agent three chapters and a pitch for a new MG novel that I’m excited about; in a little while, I’ll be getting up to work on some house-cleaning (which, let’s face it, is desperately needed after far too many weeks of family illnesses and several months spent in intense editing mode, when nothing except my book and my kids got any attention).

Right now, I’m enjoying the vibration of Pebbles’s rumbling purr through my chest, and I’m tucked up under my great-grandma’s quilt against the cold. I was up far too early this morning baking last-minute cookies for my older son’s class bake sale; luckily, I’ve been conducting a Great Chocolate Chip Cookie experiment over the last few weeks, trying out lots of different recipes recommended to me on Twitter, so I knew exactly which recipe would be the quickest and easiest.

(My very favorite recipe so far is this one from Smitten Kitchen, but it takes a tiny bit more effort and preparation, and I was too tired to get up any earlier today! Still, you can see photos and read my full report here. I’ve been taking this experiment SERIOUSLY. ;) )

I’m reading Vivian Shaw’s Strange Practice right now, a really fun adult urban fantasy novel set in London and starring a doctor (Dr. Greta Helsing) who specializes in treating supernatural creatures, including the undead. I first heard of it when I read this great interview of the author on Tor.com, and when I saw it in my local bookshop yesterday, I couldn’t resist. If you like Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this one too!

This weekend, I’ll be making my next round of chocolate chip cookies (this time trying a vegan recipe for Patrick’s sake), working on the house, and writing a short-short story about Silke (from The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart) for the winner of my latest short story auction. If you’d like to read it, too, make sure to sign up to my newsletter! I’ll send it out to my newsletter readers one month after my auction winner gets their copy.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

A November Love List

- 0 comments

It’s a chilly grey day here in Wales, and this week has been full of middle-of-the-night child wakeups and even more germs brought home from school by the kids. Soooo…it’s definitely time for me to come up with a Love List, because I need to focus on some good stuff right now!

In no particular order, then, here are some things I’ve loved over this past week:

1. A Māori language version of the Moana soundtrack has been released online! It has some of the same cast members as the original soundtrack (Jemaine Clement, for example – I now love BOTH of his versions of “Shiny”!), some new ones, and a wonderful new cover of “How Far I’ll Go” by Maisey Rika, one of my very favorite singers. My kids and I have listened to the original soundtrack SO often that we have all of the lyrics memorized by heart, and we’ve all loved listening to this new version too. Right now it only seems to be available for streaming, not purchase, in the UK, but if it ever goes up on sale, we will definitely be buying it!

2. Over the past week, my new MG book idea (my goblin girl book!) finally, finally clicked together enough that I could really dive into it, and on the two days this week when both kids were actually in school, Patrick and I went out for two joint café writing dates, my very favorite way to get my writing done. (We sit across the table from each other, drink tea/coffee, eat yummy treats and each get our own work done…which we HAVE to because the peer pressure is intense and EXTREMELY helpful. ;) One of the greatest advantages to being married to another author!) Now I’m midway through Chapter Two and really loving my fierce goblin girl, the snarky cat she lives with, and the Worst Unicorn in the Entire World (whom my Twitter followers helped me name over this past weekend – thanks, Twitter!). (I’m still in the process of dreaming up the story, so it’s way too early to guess when/whether this one will be published, but it has been so much fun to dive into this one!)

3. I am finally reading Robin Stevens’s First-Class Murder (the UK title for Book 3 in her Wells & Wong series), and it is so much fun. Daisy and Hazel on the Orient Express, with all sorts of deliciously sinister characters and so much humor along the way! This is the only one of the Wells & Wong books I hadn’t read yet (I’ve read them all out of order), and it may well turn out to be my favorite. So far, it’s a tight race between this one and Mistletoe and Murder, which is set at Cambridge University over the Christmas holidays – another favorite kind of setting for me! (And you can read my full review of Mistletoe and Murder on Goodreads.)

4. The family finally got out last week to see Thor: Ragnarok, and I loved it SO MUCH! It had even more of the fun zaniness that I loved in the first Thor film (and missed in the second), but it was bigger and better and just outright hilarious – and surprisingly heartwarming, too. Also, the soundtrack was amazing! I am really, REALLY hoping to see it again in the cinema with my nine-year-old once he recovers from his current bug, but I’ve also already preordered the DVD, too. I feel very confident that it will be a comfort re-watch many, many times in the future, the way the first Avengers film has been for me – and it may well be my favorite Marvel film so far.

What about you guys? What little or big things have you loved lately?

Halloween Happiness and Cranky Unicorns

- 0 comments - writing

Happy Halloween! We have two very excited little boys over here, and I’m getting ready to head out with them for trick-or-treating. Sugar buzz ahoy! ;)

We all need this fun, though. In the last couple of weeks, first I got tonsillitis, then both of my kids got sick just afterwards; and all in all, our family had six (!) urgent doctor’s appointments in the space of just six days. Patrick and I had to cancel our attendance at BristolCon, which was really frustrating and disappointing, but it was definitely the right thing to do – both kids were far too ill to be left with any babysitter.

Thank goodness, everyone’s finally starting to feel better now. It’s half-term here in Wales, meaning that there’s no school, so I’m not getting a lot of writing done, but I am playing with the openings for two different possible MG novels (I’m still trying to decide between them right now, but they BOTH involve cranky unicorns, so that part is absolutely happening ;) ), and I’m having a lot of fun with both of them. I’m also partway through a novelette about Amy and Jonathan from Snowspelled (set about 15 years before Snowspelled), which should be coming out in a fun anthology sometime next year. Also also, I’m daydreaming ideas for the short story I’ll be writing about Silke (from The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart AND The Girl with the Dragon Heart) for my auction-winner in the next couple of weeks.

So a lot of writing is on the way, even if half-term holidays mean that not much of it is happening today.

US Cover art by Petur Antonssen

And I had a wonderful Halloween gift arrive today: A Mighty Girl (one of my favorite sites) selected The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart as their Pick of the Day! They called it “a delicious tale, perfect to enjoy with your own cup of hot chocolate. Highly recommended for ages 8 to 12.” Hooray!

Wishing you guys all the Halloween chocolate you want this year. :)

(And PS: if you haven’t read it already, you can read my own Halloween short story, “Clasp Hands,” here. Witches and mothers and powerful aunts! It was published in Daily Science Fiction a few years ago, and if this is your first time discovering it, I hope you’ll enjoy it.)

Happiness and New Story News

- 2 comments - auctions, Short Fiction, writing

Hurrah! At long last, I sent the edited manuscript of The Girl with the Dragon Heart to my editor yesterday – and then promptly collapsed in a puddle of happiness and relief. This was the hardest edit of my life, but it was so worthwhile! I love this book and this heroine so much, and this edit forced me to dig even deeper into Silke and her story. I cried at the ending this time ’round! (But in a good way, I promise – my books are always guaranteed to have happy endings, because I write comfort books, not tragedies).

I really hope that you guys will love it too. I don’t have a specific publication date yet – only probably-the-second-half-of-2018 – but I’ll make sure to update everyone as soon as I find out all the details.

In the meantime, I’m taking a break before the next round of edits arrive in three weeks. (There are always multiple rounds of edits for every published book, from structural edits – the kind I just did, where you’re rearranging big chunks of story, deepening character arcs, writing new scenes, etc – to smaller line edits, then copyedits, first-pass pages, second-pass pages, and more). And because I am a writing-addict/me, I am going to refresh my brain and take that break by…writing something completely different! :) I’ve promised an adult romantic fantasy novelette to a fabulous anthology put together by friends, and this one will star Amy (Cassandra’s beloved sister-in-law) from Snowspelled.

This one is for everyone who’s asked for a prequel story about Amy and Jonathan’s own romance, and it’s full of underwater magic, complicated families, and, of course, the politics of the Boudiccate (since Amy is a born and trained politician). I’m diving into it today!

And for all of your other character/story requests…check out this fabulous auction raising money for hurricane relief for the U.S. Virgin Islands! There are SO many wonderful offerings from authors, agents, and editors – including a brand-new short story commission from me. I’ll write a short story (up to 1,500 words) about any character from any of my published novels or novellas – winner’s choice!

The winner will get to have the story exclusively for 1 month after I send it to them, and even after that month is up (at which point I’ll send it out to my newsletter subscribers and may also publish it as an ebook) every edition of the story will include a prominent dedication, with thanks, to my auction winner.

The auction opens today at 9a.m. EST (2pm UK time) and ends at 9pm EST on Thursday, October 19th. Check it out!

ETA: The auction is open NOW. :)

An Anniversary, A Giveaway, and a Family of Dragons

- 0 comments - giveaways

It’s exactly one month since Snowspelled came out in the world, and in lovely serendipity, today was also the day that it hit the magic number (in the publishing world) of 50 reviews on Amazon.com. (What happens when you hit 50? I’m honestly not quite sure, but it’s a number that’s passed around among authors so frequently, with so much significance, that I really am excited about this.)

In celebration, I’m giving away a signed paperback copy on Twitter! The giveaway is international and open until 8pm (UK time) tomorrow, 5th October.

Seriously, guys: THANK YOU for all the support you’ve given to my just-for-fun, quirky fantasy novella full of elves and trolls, a Regency Angland ruled by the Boudiccate, and loads of romance!

When I first decided to self-publish Snowspelled (because the only trad-publishing options that I could find for such a romantic fantasy novella paid so, so very little), I honestly wondered whether I’d ever make back the money that I spent on commissioning the beautiful cover art. Not only have I already exceeded that by quite a way, but I’m already pretty sure that I’ll be able to ask Leesha Hannigan for another cover for Thornbound, the sequel (coming in 2018)! And if both novellas do well enough, I’ll be able to justify writing the third book in the series, which would make me really happy.

So: thank you to every single person who has bought a copy, taken the time to review it, or spread the word in any other way. I really appreciate it! I love Cassandra Harwood and her family and fiancé, and I am so happy to get to keep on playing in this world.

(In case you’ve ever wondered, my big goal, as a writer, is to publish one MG novel every year and one adult novella or full novel every year. I love both genres too much to want to ever give either of them up!)

Good luck in the Twitter giveaway! And if you’re not on Twitter, never fear – my next giveaway (when we hit 75 reviews on Amazon) will be on Facebook instead. At that point, I’ll be giving away the chance for one reader to pick my next tie-in short story (connected to this series or any other books that I’ve written!) and I can’t wait. :)

And speaking of tie-in stories…I’m sending out a new short story connected to The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart in this week’s newsletter (going out on Friday)! This one was commissioned in the Authors for Grenfell auction this year by a girl who wanted a story about Citrine, Aventurine’s older sister, back when she was young. It’s called “The Dragon with an Unbearable Family,” and it was SO much fun to write. :) If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up here to read the story for free on Friday! I hope you guys will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.