Tag: Snowspelled

Getting Crafty, Tackling Challenges, Reviews and a Reading Rec

- 0 comments - Reading, writing

So. Today is the first day EVER that both of my kids have been in full-time school, and I am…well, honestly I’m in shock. But it’s a good kind of shock! (I think!) ;)

Of course, for as long as I’ve had young children (nearly nine years now!), I’ve thought: Once they’re in full-time school, I’ll get EVERYTHING done! – Whereas actually, today, all I want to do is *flop*…because for the last nearly-4-weeks we’ve had one family health (mini-)crisis after another, and honestly, I’m exhausted.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that you cannot count on getting any long stretches with both kids in school. If I take a day off just to flop, I’m more than likely to find my next two days lost to the newest set of germs to be brought back home by one of the kids, so…it’s time to get back to work!

But I really do need some tricks and self-persuasions to get it done when I’m so tired. So I’ve gone art-and-craftsy with my rewrites for The Girl with the Dragon Heart. The other day, I printed out my whole manuscript and put it in a box file decorated by print-outs of the cover art – the UK art on one side and the US art on the other. (The one bonus of being late on my edits: I have seen my beautiful cover art already. Talk about the perfect – and most seriously motivating! – art to be able to glance at as I write! :) I truly wish I could share it with you guys here.)

I also have this motivational figurine sitting next to me. She may not have much in common with Silke, my fabulous, tricky, storytelling heroine, but to me, Diana symbolizes the quintessential heroine being told that something is too hard – even impossible – for anyone to ever do…and then doing it. Which – as well as being thematic to my book – is quite a helpful symbol for me as a writer tackling a big rewrite in the midst of health mini-crises, etc! ;) Would Diana give up in the face of any of these challenges? Never. So: onward, Amazons!

And oh, I’m so grateful for everyone who’s already taken the time to review Snowspelled on Amazon and elsewhere! In the last few days, I saw two new book-blog reviews that made me really happy. Writing & Coe said “It’s fairytales, Regency house-parties, feminist worldbuilding and magic all mixed up in a political mystery, along with a large dash of romance – and it’s fabulous.” (Full review here.)

And A Fantastical Librarian said, “When I was sixteen I fell deeply and utterly in love with the writing of Jane Austen. […] Fast forward 22 years and here we are in the present where I fell in a similar kind of love with Stephanie Burgis’ latest novella Snowspelled, the first in The Harwood Spellbook. […] Snowspelled is a delightful start to what looks to be a fantastic series.” (Full review here.)

And for a reading recommendation of my own: have you guys all read Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library series yet? I just finished reading Book One yesterday, adored it (you can read my full Goodreads review here), and have already dived into Book 2 (The Masked City). The Invisible Library really was the most purely fun, witty and delicious fantasy adventure novel for adults that I’ve read in a long time, and I’m so glad to have the next two books in the series already out in the world and ready to devour (with Book 4 arriving in December – so there’s time to catch up now!).

Happy Monday, everyone!

A Snowspelled Book Birthday and a Hot Chocolate Giveaway

- 6 comments - New Publications

Woooot! Snowspelled is out in the world today, full to the brim of magic, romance and spellcast danger – not to mention scheming lady politicians, bickering gentleman magicians, elves, trolls, interfering family members, and an infuriating ex-fiancé. It was SO MUCH fun to write – I am so happy to finally be able to share it with you guys!

Blurbs for Snowspelled

This novella (or short novel – I’ve never really known which label to give it!) is the first time I’ve mingled the lighthearted, frothy fantasy fun of my MG novels with the intense romance of my adult novels. (This is a novella for adults, not kids, although I think most teens would be just fine reading it.)

I let my imagination go wild, inventing a 19th-century Angland ruled by a group of pragmatic, authoritative women known as the Boudiccate (while gentlemen are meant to stick to magic, due to the “more emotional” nature of their sex) and dived into it as the comfort-writing project when I was horribly stressed by politics last November

It was so much fun to escape into Cassandra Harwood’s world of magic and fun, romance and adventure. I hope it’ll be a fun and comforting escape-read for you guys, too!

For this first week of publication, you can buy the ebook for just $2.99. So if you’re curious about it, do grab it now! And then tell me what you think of it. :) I’ve been waiting for ages to be able to talk about it with you guys!

And…of course I’m holding a giveaway, too!

This weekend I discovered my new favorite hot chocolate mix in the whole world. It’s made by my local chocolatiers, and it’s their Winter Spice blend, which mingles dark chocolate with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger (!) and more. It is gorgeously delicious, spicy and warming in the best of ways, and the perfect hot drink to accompany this snowy, romantic fantasy novella.

I’ve been drinking it all weekend (sometimes more than once a day, because I couldn’t resist!) and now I’m going to buy another bag to send to one of my readers. All you have to do to enter this giveaway is to take a picture of your copy of Snowspelled (in either ebook or paperback form – I don’t mind which!) and post it somewhere online, whether it’s Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/your own blog/wherever!

Then come here and leave the link to your post in the comments. I’ll pick a random winner next Tuesday, September 12th (to make sure any paperback-buyers have time for their copies to arrive so they can enter, too).

Good luck!

And oh, I really do hope you guys will enjoy Snowspelled. It was so fun to write! I’ve been really, really impatient to share it with you. :)

PS: If you can take the time to write an honest review on Amazon after you finish (even just one line is fine!), I would be intensely grateful. Amazon reviews make a huge difference for visibility – or in other words, for sales and the success of the series! The second novella in this series, Thornbound, will absolutely be coming out next year, but then I’ll have to make some very hard choices about whether or not I can justify taking the time to write a 3rd and 4th story in the series…so, if you enjoy this one, please do tell people about it! :)

Happy Monday!

Goat Rodeo, Comfort Reads, Romantic Fantasy, and an Exclusive Excerpt

- 2 comments - Reading, writing

Oof. My parents left today, ending this summer’s family visit, and I already miss them a lot. I really, really love where I live, but still – it is hard to live in a different country from my parents and brothers!

For comfort, I’ve been listening a LOT to one of my favorite albums, Yo-Yo Ma (and Edgar Meyer and more)’s Goat Rodeo Sessions, which is basically the musical equivalent of a big warm hug. Pebbles is purring on my chest, and earlier today, as comfort for all of us, my 8-year-old read me ALL of his latest best-beloved book, Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties, while my 4-year-old cuddled on my lap listening and giggling as well.

I think Dav Pilkey is brilliantly clever, and I loved listening to my son read to me with so much enthusiasm – but actually, when I’m feeling sad, the first thing I want to reach for is a good romantic fantasy to take my mind off it. So – with my own romantic fantasy novella coming out on Monday, in just 4 days (!!!) – now seems like a good moment to re-link to this list of some of my favorite romantic fantasy novels. (I know it claims to be a list of 5, but, well…I cheated! There are actually 8 books on that list. I couldn’t narrow it down to only 5 after all! And of course I’ve discovered even more new ones since that list was published last year.) I’ve read all of these books many, many times when I needed perfect comfort-reading.

Aaaand…with just four days left before publication day, USA Today’s Happy Ever Blog just posted an exclusive excerpt of Snowspelled! (Which is, of course, the novella I wrote for comfort/escape in the aftermath of last year’s U.S. election.) I really hope you guys will enjoy it. It’s taken from about a third of the way through the novella, but don’t worry – I was very careful to choose a scene that didn’t include any real plot-spoilers. However, it does of course include romance, magic, AND fun family dynamics, because…well, you guys know me. I just love writing all of those things! :)

Enjoy!

Cat Cuddles, Writing Joy, and TV

- 2 comments - writing

We’re home! And oh, am I happy to be with Pebbles again. She’s been purring on my chest almost nonstop since we got back, and it is GOOD. How did I ever do without my sweet, furry cat for four weeks????

Of course, the traditional post-international-travel M.E./CFS crash has hit me hard now that we’re back. Sigh. I had to cancel the event that was scheduled for today, and I’ve made a new rule for myself: I will NEVER again arrange or agree to any public author-events less than a week after an international trip. But even being stuck in bed isn’t that bad with a purring Pebbles to keep me company. And I was so happy to wake up this morning and feel like I’d finally gotten my brain back! Physically, the crash is still pinning me down, but now that the brainfog has lifted, I’m back to writing again, which makes my stuck-in-bed time far more interesting and fun. :)

And my Girl with the Dragon Heart rewrites are going so well now that I’ve finally found the right approach! I wrote 5,000 brand-new words in the week before we left the US, which is pretty much a miracle by my usual standards. (I normally only manage 10,000 new words per month!) It feels SO good to be back in my heroine’s head and having fun adventures with her again, rather than trying to force us both down a hard slog in the wrong direction.

I cannot wait to share Silke’s final story with you guys! But in the meantime, while I work on finishing it…

It’s only 9 days until Snowspelled will be published! Woot! Today I’m hitting “approve” on the print edition (eeep!), which means that the lovely paperback edition (see photos here!) should be available on September 4th right along with the ebook (or even possibly a day or two earlier – we’ll see).

If you are planning to read the ebook edition, please don’t forget to pre-order it or buy it on the very first week – after that, it’ll shift from $2.99 to $3.99 to reflect its length, which is longer than a standard novella. (At 42,000 words, it’s officially a short novel by SFWA guidelines, although I’m generally referring to it online as a novella to avoid confusion with my full-length adult books, which range between 90-100,000 words).

And of course you can read Chapter One online!

Over here, I’m planning a very quiet weekend of Pebbles-cuddling, writing, and watching TV. My dinosaur-loving 8-year-old is finally old enough to watch Primeval with me, and Patrick and I are watching one episode of The Defenders on Netflix every night. I’d never seen any of the previous Marvel Netflix shows, but Sigourney Weaver is a fabulous villainess, and now (having watched the first 3 episodes of The Defenders) I REALLY want to watch Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Daredevil as soon as we finish!

Sadly, I feel NO temptation to watch Iron Fist, based on his character in this show, although I would absolutely watch a show about his much smarter and more interesting girlfriend – I keep yelling at her on-screen: “Leave him! You could do so much better!” ;) But I’m enjoying all of the other characters more than enough to enjoy The Defenders anyway.

Wishing you guys a good weekend!

Chocolate, Writing Retreats, Unnerving Moaning and More!

- 0 comments - writing

This weekend started in the best possible way. A friend messaged me on Facebook saying, “You have to get a copy of The Guardian today! There’s a special supplement on the Best New Children’s Books Summer 2017, and The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is in it!”

And ahhhh! It was true:

I honestly can’t think of any better news to inspire me as I work on my edits for the next book in the series, my MG spies-and-fairies book (in which Aventurine, my fiery dragon-girl, takes a turn as the sidekick while Silke, her fabulously clever best friend, is the heroine of her own story).

Unfortunately, between school holidays, family holidays, and a really unfortunate series of M.E./CFS crashes, I’m not as far ahead in those edits as I’d hoped to be by now. So I’ve taken the radical (for me) step of planning an actual writing retreat next week for the first time in four years. The last time I did this, I booked a lovely bed & breakfast in Ludlow, England, and wrote 7,000 words in 2 days, which is HUGE for me. This time I’m taking a 3-day retreat instead of a 2-day one…and I’m not staying in a B&B after all because all the ones I looked at in Ludlow were booked up.

But! A really generous friend has offered me a place to stay, even though I’ve warned her I will be a terrible houseguest, since I’ll spend the whole time surrounded by spread-out manuscript pages, alternating typing/scribbling and moaning unnervingly through the walls. Luckily, she’s a writer, too, so she gets it. ;)

I will be bringing two VERY large boxes of chocolates along with me – one as a thank-you gift to my hosts, and one to fuel me through the edits. Chocolate will get me through to my deadline! I am determined!

Oh, and: I finally have a firm publication date for my adult romantic fantasy novella, Snowspelled – September 4th! (I’d finished all of the edits on this one a few months ago while I was waiting for my MG spies-and-fairies edits to arrive, but I didn’t have a firm pub date for it until now.) The gorgeous cover (with art by Leesha Hannigan, whose work I love) will be revealed on The Book Smugglers next Thursday (at about the same time that the pre-order links go up online), and in the meantime, you can read the jacket copy, add it on Goodreads – and if you’re a book blogger/reviewer, you can contact me now to get an e-ARC immediately!

Even if you’re not a book blogger/reviewer, if you are a newsletter subscriber, you’ll get the chance to win an early review copy in my July newsletter. Just sign up here.

This week I’ll be working intensely on my edits, petting Pebbles, and, let’s face it, drinking a lot of hot chocolate. Good luck to you guys with all of your own goals! :)

Adventures, a Story Auction and a Giveaway

- 0 comments - auctions

In the last five days, I’ve led two writing workshops of my own, taken my kids to two more workshops, had a fabulous castle adventure and gone to the cinema with them, and visited the Bristol Aquarium as a full-family trip. So in other words, it’s been an excellent set of school holidays for all of us…

But now, like Pebbles, I am ready for a nap. ;)

However! I’ll be back to my usual writing routine tomorrow, and as of today, you can bid to win a brand-new short-short story written by me about any character from my novels – winner’s choice! This is part of the Con-or-Bust auction, which raises money for fans of color to attend fantasy & science fiction conventions. Bidding is open from today until May 7th, and there are many, many fabulous options to bid on. Find mine here!

This exactly how I came to write my short-short story “Flying Magic” last year – the winner of last year’s auction wanted a story about Kat dealing with her own kids. It’s also how I wrote my longer story “Forbidden Magic” – that particular auction winner wanted a story about Kat’s parents when they were young. Both stories were so much fun to write! I can’t wait to see which character this auction’s winner will choose.

I also managed to do just about all of my editing for my adult romantic fantasy novella, Snowspelled, over the past couple of weeks. (Right now I’m just proofreading with the help of some fabulous beta-readers and making a few last niggling line edits.) The final cover and blurb (and pre-order links!) won’t be ready to share until June, but you can add it to your Goodreads shelf now.

And speaking of Goodreads…

Patrick’s fabulous second novel, The Emperor of Mars, doesn’t come out until July, but you can enter a Goodreads giveaway for it now! It is SO much fun, and can certainly be read as a standalone adventure – but why not read Book One first? (Clockwork butlers, pterodactyls, girl inventors and dragon-tombs! <3 <3 <3 ) Either way, the giveaway is international, so enter now!

Happy Monday. :)

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! Still, 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. ;)

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!)

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!

SelfControl, Actions and Escape

- 2 comments - writing

For the last several years, I’ve been linked into social media for most of my waking hours. Sometimes I worried about whether I was too linked in, but mostly I enjoyed the connection too much to worry about it.

This weekend, though, I finally downloaded the SelfControl app to cut the link, because in a time when a LOT of us are feeling anxious, that constant feed of (completely justified) anxiety was sending my own emotions skyrocketing out of control.

Now I’m using SelfControl to turn off Twitter and Facebook for all but half an hour a day. Half an hour is long enough for me to check in; it’s enough time for me to see most of my friends’ activities online and also keep up with the serious issues that people are bringing up for our attention.

(I’m also trying not to let myself rely on social media for my news, as I’ve done too often in the past. Here in Wales, I’m reading The Guardian. If I were in the US, I’d personally be reading The New York Times. No matter where you get your news, there’s a really useful list that’s recently been posted – you can read it about it here – of “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources”. It’s definitely worth checking – and it includes both right- and left-wing sites, including some that I’ve read in the past.)

Every day by the end of that session, I try to take at least one positive action (whether that’s phoning my congressman, donating to a cause, signal-boosting a petition, or…) to fight against my biggest fears.

But then I turn off the feed, because otherwise, I get so overwhelmed that I can’t do anything but worry. And that’s no good to anyone.

The next time I buy a piece of jewelry with words on it, the words may well be: Write Your Own Escape. Writing has been what’s saved me this past week. I’m over a third of the way through my novella Snowspelled, which has the fun, frothy feel of a grown-up Kat story (although it’s set in a different, alternate historical version of Regency England with completely different characters). It’s full of powerful women, magic, sisterhood, families, romance, and hope. I’m trying to write as much as possible of it before the edits for my next MG book arrive.

I hope that when it’s ready for you guys to read (sometime next year), it’ll give you a feeling of escape and hope as well.

And when it comes to the book of mine that just came out – Congress of Secrets was reviewed in Paul DiFilippo’s column for Barnes & Noble, and it’s a wonderful review! He called it “The Count of Monte Cristo meets Darth Vader,” which of course made me happy – and here’s a snippet from the review:

Burgis’s recreation of period Vienna is sensual and vivid, stemming from much good research and from personal familiarity with the modern city. She does not betray the authenticity of her historical figures, and renders her imagined folks thickly enough to go toe-to-toe with the big guys. The reunion and subsequent love-hate relationship between Carolina and Michael is sweet and teasingly well done. Suspense and thrills abound in what is essentially a caper novel. But Burgis also layers in some potent subtext about authoritarianism and the freedoms we take for granted.

You can read the full review here.

And if you’re in the UK, you can enter to win an advance copy of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart here.