Wednesday, 28 December 2016

PUPPY UPDATE

Hello, Dear Readers! I hope you've been having a lovely winter solstice season (or summer solstice, if you're on that side of the world). A quick update for you on the future Zoë-Trope mascot. Here are some pictures and a video that the breeder sent on Christmas Eve:






 (Scroll up and down to see all the puppies)
 
You can see how much he's changed, just in the past couple of weeks - not only in the way he looks but in his confidence. He's already got so much personality for such a tiny puppy. I'm really excited (and scared, as well, just slightly) to finally get to meet him. A couple of weeks ago I felt a bit panicked and unprepared, but at this point I'm incredibly eager and just want January to come.

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post, voting for favourite names or offering new suggestions. At the moment I've definitely got one particular favourite among all the potential names I listed and that's what I'm mentally calling Puppy Marriott. However I don't want to commit to it here yet, since - as I said in the last post - sometimes you meet a dog (or a baby! This happened with my middle niece) and the nice shiny new name you had picked out all ready for them simply doesn't fit.

This is probably the last update I'll post for a while (unless the cute overwhelms me again). I'll let you know when the puppy arrives and post some new pictures then, but I expect to be pretty sleep deprived for a few weeks after that until house-training is mostly in place - you can't really expect a new puppy to hold it for more hours than months they've been alive at first, so I'll probably be getting up every two hours or so to avoid accidents and ingrain the message that he goes to the toilet OUTSIDE.

And since I'm typing, a work update too - Codename: DtH is currently going really well. I had a startling brainwave about a particular character and plotline a week ago - it seems much longer! - which has already yielded all kinds of interesting stuff for the story. This is making me keen to get as many words down as I can before the blog mascot arrives and my writing time takes a temporary nosedive, which is the main reason the blog will be quiet *before* Puppy Day.

Read you later, muffins!

Friday, 16 December 2016

PUPPIES!!!

(Yes, there are three exclamation marks in the title - that's how excited I am. Deal with it).

Hello and happy Friday Dear Readers. This'll be my last post for a little while - as usual I'm taking some time off from blogging over Christmas. I'm hoping to get a chunk of work done on the WIP, which is actually going really well right now, for a wonder...

*Pauses, waits to be struck my lightning...*

Huh.

Anyway, Christmas and the WIP are one reason I'm taking a little time out of the blog, but the reason I probably won't be back until mid-January (and possibly rather inconstantly after that) is given away in the post title:

PUPPIES!!!

Or rather, puppy, singular.

After losing Finn I felt convinced for a couple of weeks that I could never have another dog again. Then I started to think I would have another dog, but that it would have to be at least a year. But by a few days later I was missing having a dog in the house so acutely that I was making and deleting emo Tweets and FB statuses in the early hours of the morning. Messing around with my new hair didn't help. Writing didn't even help. My house felt empty and, despite my cats, I felt lonely.

And right around then, as sometimes can happen when the universe is feeling benevolent, the right opportunity fell into my lap. A spaniel breeder whom I followed on Facebook had one last litter to a dog whom she praises all the time as a perfect friend and companion (I've got both this breeder's books about spaniels and have read them cover to cover) and it was bigger than expected, leaving two spare puppies. One was snapped up, but the other was rejected at the last moment because the potential adopter decided it was too close to Christmas. And so, in the second week of January, one of these puppies will be coming to live with me!

 

Guess which one? Oh, all right - I'll put you out of your misery! It's the orange and white little pup in the centre of the frame. The one who snoozes through the entire video and only stretches when another puppy lands on them. He's a little boy, and he's a working type cocker spaniel.

More cute stuff! This is him at three weeks (a little bit older than in the video):




And this is him now, at around four weeks - he's the second orange and white puppy out of the kennel, and the one who figures out that he doesn't need to crowd into the second bowl along with all the others:


I'm debating over names at the moment. At first I thought Cazaril, after the protagonist of my favourite book, The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. But no one I met got that, and after having to explain it and the pronunciation to everyone (well, except one person - hi Liz!) I imagined myself having to do the same on every excursion and dog walk for the rest of forever and gave up on it. My current shortlist is:
  • Rufus
  • Leo
  • Bryn
  • Rowan
  • Emrys
  • Ruskin
You can vote in the comments if you like, or make other suggestions. I don't promise to pay attention though. Finn was supposed to be called Bramble, but then he turned up and just wasn't - sometimes the dog picks the name for you, so we'll see.

Merry holiday season to you, my lovelies, and a happy New Year. See you on the flipside.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

I DID IT!

Hello, Dear Readers! Remember last week's post about my hair?

Well, I did it!



Yep, this is me. I went out and got it done the day after I posted; I had reached the point where if I didn't get it cut professionally, I might have been tempted to have a go with the kitchen scissors (or snap and just rip it out with my bare hands). This is option two, basically, with some added layers in the front. A few pictures of me throughout the week - apologies for the terrible photo quality and lack of make-up in most of these:


Agent Carter-style 1940's retro curls

Blow-dried straight and pinned on one side

Modern, messy waves

I am looooving how washing and conditioning and combing out my hair takes about five minutes now. I used to actual-facts *dread* it because just making sure I had all the stuff out of my hair at the end used to take about fifteen minutes, and that was if I didn't accidentally dip it into any sudsy bits in the bath. Combing it through after washing? Another fifteen minutes, plus a detangling spray and leave-in conditioner. I don't think I really understood how much hassle it all was until I didn't have to do it anymore. At this length it takes about five minutes to rough-dry it with a blow-dryer, and perhaps three hours to completely air dry. At the previous length blow-drying (not anything fancy, just getting it dry-ish) took around 30mins. Air-drying was an all-night process - I'd sometimes wake up to find it was still damp.

I'm also having fun discovering all the new hair things which have been invented since the last time I dared to do anything interesting with mine. When your hair is really long you worship the fickle god of No Damage. You're terrified it'll all go horribly wrong if you so much as look at it funny. I blow-dried my hair less than once a month and probably used any kind of heated tool on it about three times a year. Having found a few products that worked on my hair half a decade ago, I stuck to them religiously and never wavered, just in case. My hairdryer was brought for me as a Christmas present about fifteen years ago and I kept on using it because it said 'Ionic' and 'Protect' on the box.

But apparently loads of fun stuff has been happening while I was playing Sleeping Hair Beauty (or would that be Rapunzel? Answers on a postcard). Like amazing products for your hair that don't make it feel sticky or crunchy yet hold your style in place! And cool appliances that you can use to make your hair do all these new things but somehow don't fry it! And looks that are less about being perfect and more about being a bit quirky and messy!

Quelle Surprise!

So anyway, it's been fun playing around with it. I might keep it at this length for a while, maybe experiment some more - just so long as I can keep the option of throwing it back into a ponytail, because that's a lifesaver some days.

Mainly what I wanted to say was: getting your very long hair cut doesn't have to be a big deal, so if you, too, are hesitating? I recommend you go for it. Your hair is not you. It's not even the best part of you. Take a risk. But make sure you have a great stylist! Good luck, cuties.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

HELP CHOOSE MY HAIR

Hi guys, I hope you're all having a good week so far. I'm feeling a little miserable - missing Finn a lot, to the point where I nearly burst into tears over a friendly dog in the street this weekend - so I'm going to make a change. Specifically, a hair change.

This is me now (apologies for resting angry face):




And this is basically how my hair has been for the last five years. I have been super lazy. For at least a couple of years I didn't even get it trimmed. At the beginning of 2016 my hair was long enough to sit on (and let me tell you, that's not as much fun as it sounds) so I cut a foot off to send to the Little Princess Trust, but that's the most dramatic change I've made in years. It's really been annoying me lately, though, and I'm hoping that a proper restyle might make my life a bit easier and cheer me up at the same time.

Here are some ideas as to what I could do with my hair.

OPTION ONE:


The least extreme option - keep it long but cut another foot off the bottom, and go for a few subtle layers. This is the sort of thing I'll end up with if I chicken out on the day, basically. Pros: I'll still be able to braid my hair, put it in a bun, and can probably continue to use all my existing hair tools and products, which are geared for use with long hair. Cons: it's not a big enough difference to really excite me, and will still get caught in car doors and under my bag strap, not to mention tangling up with every gust of wind.

OPTION TWO:


The Lob - or long bob. This is a blunt cut, one length version, which is the kind I like - I would hate to have one of the heavily graduated A-line ones because they prevent you from being able to so much as put your hair in a ponytail without those super-annoying snags of short hair falling down at the nape of your neck. Pros: Hopefully long enough for various updoes still, and long enough that I could still hide behind it, maybe play around with it a bit in terms of styling, and it probably wouldn't get caught in any doors. Cons: Would probably still be a bit tangly and would still catch under my bag strap. Without graduation, might end up looking like a weird square shape (my face is already square enough)?

OPTION THREE:


The classic bob, sometimes now referred to as a clavicut because it's long enough to graze the collarbone. I like this version because you can see that it has subtle layering which would make it easier to manage, while still giving the impression of lots of hair. Pros: I think it would be a real, proper change for me and would hopefully be versitile and give me an excuse to play around with new straight and wavy looks. Would be unlikely to catch in or under anything, but ought to be long enough for that vital ponytail, if I made sure it was a low one. Cons: Updoes would be out. I'd definitely be unable to use any of my current styling tools - even my hair ties and bobby pins (all heavy duty ones designed for super long hair) would be useless.

OPTION FOUR:


The most extreme of them all - the chin-length bob! I've rocked this look before and I liked it, but at this length my hair can become super unruly and start to take on bizarre, physics defying cowlicks during the night. I had to use my GHDs literally every day (sometimes twice a day) just in order to get it to hang downwards instead of sticking out horizontally from the sides of my head. On the other hand, bendy, messy hair is in right now, so maybe I could make it work for me? Pros: Would take, like, five minutes to wash, condition and dry, would never get tangly and would not get in my way.... except... Cons: too short to tie back into even the most stubby of ponytails in order to put on/take off make-up and wash face/brush teeth, and would therefore be in my face pretty much all the time, even with a hairband. Would need to reinvest in all the specialist bits and pieces that girls with short hair must have, and would take at least two years to grow back to anything approaching long. Would probably, no matter how much I'd like to pretend otherwise, require some form of styling everyday if I was to avoid looking like a deeply eccentric person.

What do you think, Dear Readers? Any foolproof ideas for girls with unruly hair and square faces? Any stunning pictures of amazing hairstyles that I've failed to consider? Let me know! I will look at any suggestions and report back with pics when the deed is finally done.

Read you later, cupcakes.

Friday, 11 November 2016

GOODBYE, PRECIOUS BOY

Very quickly nipping in today because it feels right to let everyone who's sent good wishes and kind thoughts know: Finn died yesterday. He was at home, with me, and it was as peaceful as I could possibly have hoped. Now I have to somehow get used to life without my precious boy, which is already harder than I could possibly have imagined. I miss him so, so much. I can't imagine writing, or doing much or anything at all, for the next little while.

I'm pretty firmly agnostic, but for right now I'm trying to believe that he's out there somewhere, and that he and my dad are together.

Hug your dogs, Dear Readers, or whatever animals you might hold dear. Give them a kiss on the nose for me, and take a moment remember how lucky you are to have them.

Goodbye, darling.



Thursday, 3 November 2016

THE NANO-CURSE STRIKES AGAIN!

Hello, Dear Readers - happy Thursday. I hope everyone's having a good week so far?

Today's big news is that as of right now the new SHADOWS ON THE MOON with extra content is officially on sale - so if you've always wanted to know what happens after the end of the story... get in there because this is your chance. And BAREFOOT ON THE WIND has not only been recommended on this amazing list of Spooky Reads For Autumn and Winter Nights from BookTrust, but shortlisted for the Highgate Wood School Book Award (in two different categories, no less) which is sweet and humbling at the same time.

Now, before I do anything else, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who left comments, emailed, facebooked or tweeted me with mesages of support after my news about Finn. Each message meant something to me, and it did - and does - help.

With that in mind, I decided to let you all know that I eventually had to veto the idea of chemo for Finn. I was really desperate to try it - it's carefully calibrated to cause minimal side effects and might have offered Finn between another six months to a year of life. But then the vet brought up an issue which isn't negotiable - the treatment itself takes six months, during which time it's a rule that owners must 'avoid direct contact' with their pet, due to the toxic nature of the drugs involved. Which means: no stroking or cuddles, no letting them up on the furniture with you or to sleep on the bed, no kisses on the snout, no absentmindedly patting their ears when they lie with their head on your knee while you read. No bathing them or grooming them, even, unless you can do it with gloves on. 

Finn has literally never in his entire life been treated that way. Not when he somehow managed to roll in fox droppings three times in one day. Not even when he stayed with my mum for the first time and chewed the ears off her limited edition Steiff Teddy Bear. He sulks when strangers on the street don't stop to give him fuss. If I suddenly cut off 90% of physical contact with him, he can't be expected to understand why it's happening, and I honestly believe it would break his heart. It would definitely break mine. I can't bear the thought of turning away and refusing to give him the love and physical affection he'd desperately need during a period when he would feel very ill and anxious. I do want him with me as long as possible - but only if he's happy and feels safe and loved.

So instead, he's on strong steroids, which will help to manage his symptoms for now, and some painkillers. He's perked up considerably, is enjoying short walks again, and is generally waggy and bright-eyed, which is what I want his last weeks or months to be like. It's his favourite season, and when I was able to watch him snuffling cheerfully through the fallen leaves, and then rolling around on the kitchen floor while I was drying him with a warm towel (another of his favourite things), I knew I'd made the right choice. The vet says that there's no way, with this course of treatment, to know how long it will work. So I just have to keep a close eye on him and make sure his comfort is my top priority.


OK, now that's out of the way - another update, this one on NaNoWriMo. As many of you know from the blog and twitter, I was gearing up for a massive NaNo effort this year and basically wanted to use it to both get my mind off worrying about Finn AND finish my current project if possible.

But the NaNo-Curse (which in previous years took the form of the NaNo-Virus and the NaNo-Slipped-Disc) struck again on Tuesday when I woke up in the middle of the night with a blinding migraine. The migraine didn't begin to ease up until late on Tuesday, and I still had a horrible headache, funny vision, dizziness and the ever-delightful nausea when I woke up yesterday morning (and everytime I started thinking about the words I SHOULD have been writing, my blood pressure went up and my eyeball responded with the kind of warning throb that made me strongly suspect it might just explode if I pushed the issue).

I'm feeling a lot better now, but still fragile and light sensitive, which means that squinting at either a backlit screen or even my own crabbed handwriting in a notebook for hours at a time isn't going to be a good idea for another day or two. And that's pretty much put the kibosh on all my good intentions.

Realistically, I know that I could still catch up if I went Hell for leather and really pushed myself over the next week. But I also know that my migraines tend to increase in frequency and severity when I'm stressed out - and I'm pretty stressed out even before bringing NaNo into things. I don't really want to turn National Novel Writing Month into Zolah Tortures Herself And Has No Fun Month.

HOWEVER. I was already being a NaNo Rebel, what with working on a WIP rather than a completely fresh manuscript. So even if I can't get to the official finish-line of 50,000 in November, I figure I can still be a part of NaNo and just try to write as much as possible this month.

I'm going to begin afresh this weekend - and my new plan is to try something a bit different for me, and write non-linearly. I'll pick any scenes from my synopsis that strongly appeal to me (without regard to where they come in the plot) start wherever I want to and finish when I run out of things to write. If I end up with a whole bunch of random scenes that need arranging into order and stitching into a whole, fine. If I end up getting carried away and writing from the middle to the end, fine. If I end up with a bit of a middle, part of an end, and some other random chapters that I need to sort out, also fine. Just as long as I end up with a nice fat chunk of words by December 1st.

I know some of you guys were tempted into NaNo this year - how are things going for you so far? Let me know in the comments. I'll update you again next week and we can celebrate or commiserate as appropriate. Take care, and read you later folks.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

CHECKING IN

Hi guys - I hope you're having a good week so far (or if not, that it looks up from this point).

The Massive Reviewer Reward Giveaway is over and everyone except one person has their prizes, but if you didn't win there's no need for despair. I'm currently running another giveaway for three signed copies of BAREFOOT ON THE WIND on Goodreads, so anyone who couldn't enter the first giveaway for whatever reason stands a chance of winning there. Check it out.

More good news: this lovely review from Amanda Craig in the new SCOOP Magazine, in which she calls the book 'Beautifully written and imagined' and all sorts of other nice things.

Now for... not so good news. This week some results came back from the vet and gave me a diagnosis that I never, ever wanted to see. Finn has cancer. It's lymphoma, which is treatable (thankfully I kept on stubbornly paying his insurance premiums, year on year, even though they've gotten to the level of ludicrous and lately I've had to make some hard choices about paying the insurance vs. my grocery bill) but not curable. What that means is that he'll have veterinary chemotherapy, designed to ease any symptoms and make the patient comfortable without too many side effects, but not to actually extend his life if it will make him suffer. I might get a few extra months with him... but at the end of that time the cancer will come back and that will be the end of the road.

I'm taking him to hopefully start that treatment today, and I'm praying that he will respond well to it and he'll get as much time as possible with the best quality of life possible before I have to let him go. My dad used to joke that Finn was his favourite grandchild, and he spent so much time playing with and training him that I felt as if he really belonged to both of us. They shared the same personality - mischievous, silly, inquisitive, clever, gentle and affectionate. Even Finn's occasional bouts of selective deafness and pigheaded stubbornness remind me of dad. Facing the prospect of losing him is... pretty bad.

Anyway, if things are rather quiet around here for the next little while, you'll know why. I'm still hoping to take part in NaNo - writing has always been a solace and source of comfort to me during the worst times, and I will definitely need something else to think about. I'll try to check in again at least a couple of times as November progresses and let you know how it worked at the end of the month. Anyone else who is doing NaNo this year is super welcome to add me as a buddy over on the website.

Any good thoughts and good wishes you might have spare, Dear Readers, will be much appreciated. I think Finn and I will both need them.



Tuesday, 11 October 2016

NEW ARRIVALS!

Hello, my little macaroons! Happy Wednesday to everyone, and thank you for joing me today. I'm delighted to say that I have pretty pretty pictures to share - because in the last week not one but TWO delightful parcels have arrived for me bearing gifts.

What was in package number one, you ask? Why ask no further, because it was THIS:

 
 

The final volume of the Candlewick Press hardback editions of The Name of the Blade Trilogy! A rather lucious jade green this time, with a scale effect and copper typography - and matching green binding with copper foil and endpapers.

And yes, that's a jellyfish in the silhouette. If you've read the book you know why, and if not then you'll just have to buy this and find out won't you?

But even better than that!



Together at last. My fourteen year old self, if she could see this, would be actual-facts-ugly-crying. I nearly did myself. The trilogy is now officially completed and it's so beautiful!

But wait - there's more. ALSO in the post last week was THIS:




Yes, that's a glimpse of the long-awaited sequel/short story/epilogue of Shadows on the Moon, which I hope will satisfy fans of the book at last. But this book, too, is part of a set, so it seemed only right to do this:




Look what they did with the back covers there - isn't that clever? It's almost like the tangle of thorns transforms into a swirl of hair in the same gust of wind the sweeps the cherry blossoms across from one book to another. Gorgeous!

Frail Human Heart will be out in the US at the beginning of November. This new and improved version of Shadows on the Moon will be out here in the UK at the same time.

Once they're both on the shelves... I'm sure not what'll be next for me. I'm out of contract now - I have no new books due out for the first time in a decade. I'm still working on the book I got my Arts Council grant for, and I'm hoping to make a giant leap in progress during NaNoWriMo this year (yes, I'm going to give it another bash, no, I never learn, and yes, I will keep you all abreast of my progress - in fact, why not join up too and friend me here?) but I don't know when or if that will be published. I have some other news about my future which I'm hoping to share soon, but I need to get official confirmation first. Apart from that it's all wide open, which is both scary and exciting. 2017 is going to be an eventful year, I think!

Read you later, cupcakes!

NaNoWriMo

Thursday, 6 October 2016

MASSIVE REVIEWER REWARD WINNER!

Hello, my lovelies! Happy Thursday to you all. Today I bring you the reveal of the winner for the MASSIVE REVIEWER REWARD GIVEAWAY. First up through - if you've reviewed on Amazon and you haven't sent me your address yet? Email me through my website contact form here and let me know it. I'm hoping to get all the Reviewer Rewards out over the next week or so, but obviously that depends on me knowing where to send them!

OK, so at about two minutes past midnight last night I assigned everyone who reviewed on Amazon or Amazon.com a numerical value. Then I fed the numbers into a random number generator and it picked one out. Who is it?

Drumroll please!




*



*



*



*



*



*


RACHEL BALCOMBE!


*Sparklers explode* *Champagne corks pop* *Trumpets blare*

Hurray, hurray! Congratulations Rachel - I very much hope you will enjoy your prize. You've already sent me your address for the Reviewer Reward, so I'll try and get your (expansive) package out to you in the post in the next week. Part of the prize includes delicious chocolate treats, so if you have any allergies, intolerances or strong likes/dislikes, please let me know (in the comments here is fine)!

In other news, BookTrust have picked BAREFOOT ON THE WIND as one of their October Books We Like and have given it a lovely review, which you can check out there. Obviously I'm delighted (and hope it might cause a few more copies to fly off the shelves).

And another reminder that YAShot is approaching with all the speed of a feral runaway warthog - although the event will of course be much more enjoyable (and more fragrant!) than that. I believe there are still tickets left, but not many, so if you want to get in do it NOW.

Read you later, cookies!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

SIGNED BOOKS AND HOW TO GET THEM

Happy Thursday, Dear Readers! Before I get started, I just want to remind everyone about the MASSIVE REVIEWER REWARD GIVEAWAY that's on right now - prizes for literally everyone who leaves a review on Amazon, and a huge mega-prize for one lucky winner that includes all kinds of droolworthy stuff. Get in there now, if you haven't already.

Today's blog was prompted by a lovely email from reader Nikita (hi, Nikita! You have a very cool name!) who lives in Idaho in the US. Since my publishers aren't showing any signs of wanting to send me off on an all-expenses-paid signing tour of America any time soon, she was wondering if I'd sign tags for her books if she sent them to me.

I decided to do a post about this rather than just answering Nikita individually, because I realised that when I redesigned my website last year I never replicated the information on signed books which used to be on the old version. As a result, there might be a few readers like Nikita who would find it useful to have this question answered.

My stance is this: If you'd like your book or books signed, but you live far away or can't get to signings for any other reason, I am always willing to sign bookplates for you. In fact, I have my own generous store of bookplates for the purpose, although if you have your own and you'd prefer them signed then that's fine too.

For readers living in the UK it's very easy - you just send a letter to my publisher at the following address:

Zoë Marriott
C/O Walker Books
87 Vauxhall Walk
London
SE11 5HJ

In the letter you can tell me how many bookplates you'd like and if you want me to dedicate them to you, or someone else - for example, have me write 'To Leila', or 'Happy Birthday Amal!' or 'Keep writing, Beth!' - or just sign them. Include a return envelope with the right postage and your address on it, and I'll send your bookplates back to you in that. 

However, if you're abroad, although the rest of the process remains the same there's a little more to organise, because your stamped, self-addressed envelope needs to have postage on it that will allow me to return it. You should use a service like this to buy the correct amount of internationally valid postage and put that on the envelope so that I can send it back to you. If your country still sells International Reply Coupons (the UK and US don't anymore, sadly) then you can include those instead.

Bear in mind that your letter has to not only reach my publisher but also wend its way through their mail room department, be sent to me, then reach the top of my To Do Pile, and finally work it's way back to you through the postal service before you'll get your bookplates. For what it's worth, I always try to send everything out within a week of receiving it - but I've gotten post from my publisher in October that was dated May before, so I can't answer for how long the whole process will take.

On the other hand, if I get your letter then you have my word that even if it's from a year ago I WILL REPLY, and you'll probably get a few extra bits and pieces of swag thrown in for good measure along with the bookplates.

Armed with all this information: have at it, Nikita (or anyone else who'd like a signed bookplate or bookplates).

Before I go, here's a link to a cool blogpost about how to beat writer's block - it has a couple of tips on it that I've never heard of before and which intrigue me greatly.

And also this piece called O Dreaded Prologue! The title made me snort with amusement, but the points the writer made had me nodding with agreement. 

Finally, a lovely post by bestselling author (and all around lovely lady) Samantha Shannon, who is going to be chairing my panel at YAShot in October (all the details you need on YAShot are here!) in which she makes me want to visit Prague rather desperately and also says some extremely nice things about Barefoot on the Wind.

That's all for this week, my lovelies! Read you later.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

MASSIVE REVIEWER REWARD GIVEAWAY

Hello, hello, hello Dear Readers! I hope the week's been great to you so far, and if not, that it takes a turn for the better before the weekend.

Today I bring you, as promised, a giveaway designed to reward those who've answered my appeal here and reviewed BAREFOOT ON THE WIND on Amazon. Thank you all so much! Each of these reviews really does make a difference to the book's 'discoverability' (apparently a real word) online and helps to boost the chances of another reader taking a chance on this weird little Feminist fairytale.

It's been tough to figure out a way to reward everyone who has reviewed so far and also encourage others to review in the future. By definition, people who have written reviews must already have gotten their hands on a copy, whether they bought it or were sent it for review (unless you borrowed it from a library, in which case *fist bump* - libraries rule and deserve our support, thank you). So offering to give away my newly received author copies felt a bit redundant.

After wracking my brains for a little while, I came up with this. If you have reviewed BAREFOOT ON THE WIND on Amazon or if you do so in the next two weeks - that's up to and including the 5th of October - then you are entitled to claim a signed bookplate and gorgeous full-colour book swag from me. If this sounds groovy to you, then get in touch via the contact form on my website here and give me your name and the address you'd like this prize to be posted to, as well as quoting the first line of the review so I know who you are. The book's only out in the UK right now, but if you're abroad and you manage to read and review it despite that then you're still very welcome to take advantage of this offer, so don't be shy!

Here's the really exciting part, though. At the end of the two week period (on the 6th of October) I will enter the names of all the reviewers into a random number generator and one lucky winner will receive a massive special prize. This prize will include, but not be limited to:
  • A signed copy of BAREFOOT ON THE WIND personalised for you with custom art by me
  • A signed copy of the first three chapters of the new fairytale retelling that I am working on right now (which, of course, is subject to change before publication!)
  • Gorgeous book swag of myriad different kinds
  • More signed bookplates for use in books you already own or may buy in the future
  • Delicious gourmet treats (don't worry, I will check in with you about preferences, allergies and intolerances before sending!)
  • And last but not least, this beautiful Sterling silver necklace, calling to mind Hana's beloved hunting bow and arrows, which she puts to such good use throughout BAREFOOT ON THE WIND:
 
 

This is pretty much the biggest and best prize I've ever managed to put together, and if I wasn't the person doing it, I think I'd very much want to be the winner. Excited? I'm excited.

Things to remember:
  1. If you've already reviewed, you're already entered, no probs.
  2. If you haven't reviewed, then you need to do so by the 5th of October. 
  3. International readers are welcomed with open arms.
  4. Winner announced on the 6th of October.
If you've already reviewed, and you'd like to claim your signed bookplate and swag, you can get in touch now and I'll send them right out, or you can wait until the giveaway period is over and if you win I'll send everything together. Either is fine with me, but remember that you will need to let me know your address before I can send anything!

Thank you all so much, again, for your support and love for this book. Read you later, muffins.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

AN APPEAL FOR REVIEWS

Hello, my cupcakes - and happy Thursday. I hope the world's been treating you well so far this week. I've been a bit unwell over the past few days, hence why this post is rather short. I'm basically nipping back to make an appeal to all Dear Readers and blogger-pals. It goes a little like this:

If you've read BAREFOOT ON THE WIND - whether that's because you bought a copy or were sent one for review - and you have any thoughts or feelings about it, I would *love* it if you would head over to Amazon and post a review. 

If you've already written a review for your blog or Goodreads - and there have been some simply fantastic reviews, insightful, funny and generous - just copy and paste that. Otherwise, a line or two that sums up your feelings would be great (though don't let me stop you from going the whole hog). It doesn't have to be long. It doesn't even have to be positive, if you have a different perspective to offer. But having a number of reviews on an Amazon page really can make the world of difference to a book's sales, not just on Amazon but all over the internet and in the real world - people often flick there first before making their mind up, and if it seems that others are talking about the book, it may motivate readers to check it out now. And believe me, both I and this weirdo little Feminist story really do need that boost.

So that's my appeal: please review if you can find the time and spoons to do it.

Later on, after I've got my author copies of this book (and have a bit of my energy back) I will most likely reward reviewers by doing a giveaway of some kind, with swag and maybe other nice things. But right now I'm just asking you to do it from the goodness of your hearts if you feel that you can.

Love and snuggles to you all, my crumpets. Next week I shall be posting over on Author Allsorts about my favourite poem (which, to no one's surprise, is actually several poems) and will link across from here for ease of finding. Any questions or potential blog topics to offer? Throw them in the comments.

Read you later!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

BAREFOOT ON THE WIND IS OUT!

Hello, hello, hello Dear Readers! And happy Thursday to you - especially since today is September the 1st, aka the long-awaited (for me anyway) official release date for BAREFOOT ON THE WIND.

With thanks to Luna of Luna's little Library.
WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!

Ahem.

Yes, my precious baby, five years in the making, is out in the wild, hopefully charming people from the shelves (perhaps even in your very own local bookshop) and possibly making them cry depending on how the ending takes them. I'm super proud of this book. It feels like one of the most me-things I've written, even though several things that turned up while I was writing it took me by surprise. It has shapeshifers, curses, enchanted mazes, the undead, and FEMINISM. All that good stuff!


If you happen to see BAREFOOT ON THE WIND out and about anywhere, in a shop or a library, in the hands of someone reading on the Tube, or even in an Amazon package that you just opened, please do send me a photo. In the meantime, here are some guestposts and interviews I've been doing with lovely blogger-pals to celebrate the release (I've linked to the first two before, but I'll include them too, just in case anyone missed them):

There is a Monster in the Forest... Exploring the darker side of fairytales with Luna at Luna's Little Library.

A Question of Fairytales... Looking at what I think makes a truly great re-telling on Michelle's Tales of Yesterday Blog.

A Q&A with me...Answering some different and interesting questions with Georgia at TeenBookHoots.

And finally... Are Fairytales Feminist, which is exactly what it says on the tin, with Andrew of The PewterWolf. 

In addition, here's the Pinterest Board for this book, and the Spotify Playlist I listened to while writing it:


And some absolutely lovely reviews that offer different perspectives on the book, from Lovereading4Kids, Page to Screen Reviews, Luna's Little Library and TeenBookHoots. I'm so delighted that, so far, people seem to be 'getting' this book and reacting to it the way I'd hoped.

Happy book birthday, #BaBBook.

That's it for this week, my muffins - have a great Thursday, and I'll read you later!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

NEW SHADOWS ON THE MOON PRE-ORDERS ARE LIVE!

Hello, Dear Readers, and happy Tuesday!

A very quick post today to share a nice piece of news - you've probably already guessed it from the blog title, but you can now officially pre-order the new edition of Shadows on the Moon from Amazon here. It's also available from The Book Depository here, Waterstone's here, and from WHSmiths here.

Not only does this reissue of the title possess that gorgeous new cover with so many wonderful deails from the story, which matches the cover of Barefoot on the Wind...


But it will also contain exclusive extra content, including a short story set after the events of the novel, which I'm seeing as a kind of prologue to Yue and Otieno's story, and hoping readers will love as much as I do.

The book is out on the third of November, so I haven't seen any real copies in the flesh yet, but I think it's going to be a very lovely item indeed.

And since we're talking about real copies... look what arrived in the post last week!




Matching nail polish entirely coincidental
The very, very first advanced copy of Barefoot on the Wind! I love the brush-effect on the font so much; it looks just as beautiful on the title page as on the front cover.

This one is out on the first of September, so less than a month to go - and of course you can pre-order this one from Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstone's and WHSmith too, if you are so moved (you'd be doing me a favour, and you might get the book a few days early, so it's win-win).

Before I go, a quick reminder that my contribution to the YAShot Blogtour is still up at the lovely Luna's blog and that the giveaway for a complete signed set of the Name of the Blade trilogy is still active, so get on that while you can.

That's all for this week, my lovelies, but next week baring unforeseen circumstances I'll be tackling a reader question with regard to fairytale retellings. Read you later!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

YA SHOT BLOG TOUR!


Get a load of this sexy .gifwork by Luna! Pwoar!
Hello, hello, hello Dear Readers! Apologies for the long absence from blogging - I've been taking a break from most internet related activity (except Twitter, because I just can't quit it) for mental and physical health reasons, but I'm back today because the thrilling YA Shot is getting closer and closer, and it's my turn to contribute to the blog tour. As a quick reminder for those who didn't catch me talking about YA Shot before, it's... well, I'll just quote from the official website:
"...an author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. We believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country. At present, we’re a not-for-profit organisation but we’re seeking to become a charity. 

YA Shot is a one-day annual festival based in the centre of Uxbridge (London). The 2016 festival will take place on Saturday 22nd October 2016. Around 70 authors are involved in a programme of workshop, panel and ‘in conversation’ events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops. YA Shot is run in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge."
Sounds awesome, right? That's because it IS awesome - and this year I'm taking part! I will be on a panel with Alwyn Hamilton (author of Rebel of the Sands) and chaired by Samantha Shannon (creator of the Bone Season books). The panel is titled Little Women: Fantasy, gender, power and constraint, and I am *very* *excited* because these are topics I love to rant - er - calmly and intelligently discuss with other writers. For information on this and all the other amazing panels and events, many of which I hope to be able to attend as an audience-member, check out the website now.

I already know that some Dear Readers will be there and I'm really looking forward to seeing them, along with a bunch of author-friends who I've never had the chance to meet in the flesh before, and hopefully a whole bunch of new reader-peeps who'll be attending too.

To celebrate and promote the festival, I've collaborated with one of my favourite book bloggers, Luna - of Luna's Little Library fame - to make what I hope is a really chewy, interesting and unique interview about fairytales and folklore, how they change and evolve, what they mean to us as a society, and how it all relates back to the fairytale retellings we've seen in various media, including the ones I've written - not least BAREFOOT ON THE WIND (hence the amazing graphics and .gifs from Luna).

Owned by Luna's Little Library
There's also a giveaway! The winner will receive a complete set of The Name of the Blade trilogy, signed and dedicated, with as much additional secret swag as I can stuff in the box before posting.

Owned by Luna's Little Library
The post and the giveaway are live right now, so check them out, leave a comment, enter the giveaway and share on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever. Have a great day, my ducklings - read you later!
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