The proofs are out there…

2017-11-18 14.40.24This has been an exciting few days! Hachette Australia HQ held their book bloggers night last Thursday, and this lil old thing got given out, leading to a small social media flurry on my part as people tweeted & instagrammed pics of their copies. I am telling you as a total rookie debut author, I don’t think this will ever get old.

But here’s the exciting part: a group of book bloggers and reviewers from Sydney blog Read3r’z Re-Vu will be doing a read along of their proof copies of The Beast’s Heart from Sunday evening through Monday, and they’ve asked me to join them! Basically, I get to peek over their shoulders and watch their reactions (via whatsapp) as they read it!

Am I looking forward to it? Am I what!

In return, I’ll be giving them some exclusive insights into writing the story plus a bonus playlist of songs I listened to while writing it.

On top of that, the submission window for A Hand of Knaves closed on Thursday at midnight. So now I have a fat folder sitting in my inbox of short story submissions ready  to read. Really looking forward to seeing what’s waiting for me there.

Plus there’s a few other bits & pieces to be getting on with, like a wrap-up of last weekend’s Genrecon and a new article for Hodderscape, not to mention I’ll be starting a new job on Monday. So it’s not like I’m going to be at a loose end over the next few days…

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The iceberg

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If you are a writer, you have probably at some stage of heard of something referred to as ‘the iceberg principle’. It’s pretty simple really. The premise is based on the idea that 90% of the iceberg lies invisible, under the water, with only 10% visible above the surface. This is a metaphor for what you know about your story, world and characters, vs what actually makes it onto the page for your reader to see.

Just by way of example, here’s a sentence from one of my WIPs:

If she had been at home, she most likely would have been abed with a hot brick and one of her housekeeper’s restorative tisanes.

That might have taken you all of two seconds to read. And it probably took me a couple of minutes to craft the actual words that went into it. But that sentence also represents at least 45 minutes worth of internet research on:

  • 18th Century remedies for period pain
  • Lydia E Pinkham
  • Liquorice root, including where it grows and what its medicinal properties are
  • the medicinal properties of Dandelion root

Which is basically just my way of reassuring myself that it’s OK to have only produced 200 words after getting up at 5.30 am and writing for 1.5 hours before the family gets up and we all have to get ready for work/school/etc. And also goes some way to illustrating why it takes so damn long to write a bloody novel.

And now I have had that stupid Lily the Pink song stuck in my head all day. Yeah. You’re welcome.

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Those proofs

My big news this week is that the printed proof copies of The Beast’s Heart have arrived in the London office of my publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, and a small pile of them will soon be winging their way into my waiting hands.

To say I’m excited is putting it mildly. Up until those photos were tweeted, I had only seen the front cover, so I’m still swooning a bit over the detail on the spine and I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming when I read the lovely words they’ve put on the back.

If you would like to receive a review copy, Hodder has information available for book bloggers here.

If you’re an Australian reveiwer, your best bet is probably going to be through Hachette Australia on Netgalley.

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So here’s what I’ve been counting down to. *silly grin*

Low-Fantasy-Dodo-Banner-400x200I am beyond excited to announce that on 31 May 2018 my first novel, The Beast’s Heart, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK. (If you click on the image above, it will take you to the announcement on the Hodderscape website.) Here’s a little snippet of what they say about it to whet your appetite:

Set in seventeenth-century France, it is a luxuriously magical retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale – from the point of view of the Beast. Both the writing and story-telling are lush and evocative, rich and achingly exquisite; this novel is the epitome of psychological depth and descriptive beauty.

*Blushes*

The Beast’s Heart (formerly known as Novel Project #1) was my way of immersing myself in one of my favourite fairy tales, and in my very own fairy-tale-come-true was picked up by Hodder & Stoughton out of the open submissions process they (bravely) ran in 2015. (Bravely: they got 1445 submissions! That is a LOT of reading!)

There is a bit of celebrating going on in my house tonight.

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Re-stringing

I’m hardly going to be the first writer ever to find myself tantalisingly close to the end of a first draft (115,000 words), only to discover my plot isn’t working for me the way I need it to. How can I explain it? It’s like I’ve spaced out my tent poles too widely, and now I don’t have enough canvas to cover them.

I’ve now worked out what I need to do to fix it (and hopefully make it easier to find my way down the rest of the long, dark tunnel to that tantalisingly blinking neon The End sign). But it kinda means unstringing my plot and stringing it back together in a slightly different configuration. With some new bits added in.

So that’s today’s task. Reconfigure the synopsis until I have a plot that’s going to work for me. Wish me luck.

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Browser history

This week I’ve been back at work after a lovely two weeks off in which I got a huge amount of work done on the WIP (but didn’t finish it – boo.) One of the pleasures of writing is all the bits and bobs of interesting research I get to do. This can vary from a quick check on Google images to make sure I’ve got a thing right in my mind’s eye, to a two hour rabbit hole from which I emerge blinking and cursing myself. Research topics over the last week have included:

  • Interior decoration of 18th Century upmarket London brothels (see my post on floor coverings)
  • Greek myths, particularly in relation to the Trojan War
  • Medieval herbal remedies (now I know what dragon’s blood is)
  • The history of medical treatment for certain ailments (did you know incubus started out as a digestive complaint? Not a demon in sight.)
  • Baths in the Georgian/Regency era (thank you, Mr Darcy)
  • 18th Century architecture in Clerkenwell, London
  • 18th Century firearms
  • Christ’s temptation in the desert
  • The effect of varying degrees of blood loss on the human body.

And now, this :

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What a handy little chart.

Some kind of milestone

I just hit 100,000 words on the current WIP tonight. Still got a bit to go, but that’s some kind of milestone, right?

Here’s a snippet of tonight’s inspiration:

The Sick Rose

By William Blake

O Rose thou art sick.

The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
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