Thursday, 4 February 2016

January Wrap-up

I planned to have a productive month in January, and to be fair, it was. Well, except on the exercise front -- I was a bit of a slacker there. BUT *quickly distracts you from that little tidbit* I wanted to post a quick wrap-up here because some exciting things happened.

First off, I started the month with some excited squealing when ARCs of my next book, BREAKER, arrived in the mail. If you're not familiar with ARCs, these are Advance Reader Copies that the publisher sends out to trade reviewers, book bloggers, etc. to get early reviews for the book, and generally stir up a bit of hype. I call these 'floppy copies' because they're not in the finished, polished format that will end up in bookshops. They are very gorgeous, though, and infinitely huggable.


A photo posted by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on




I also read and gave a promo quote for a book which came out on Feb 2nd. It's a gripping, kickass YA sci-fi set on a partially terraformed Mars, about a girl named Wren who has to break every rule on the planet to try and save her mother's life. It's called WINDRUNNER'S DAUGHTER by Bryony Pearce, and I've been shouting about it all over the internet since finishing it. Basically, it's ace, and you should definitely read it. Click here to check it out on Amazon UK.


Reading-wise, I'm a little behind where I wanted to be, but the books I've read so far this year have been absolute belters. I started with Neal Shusterman's UNWHOLLY (sequel to UNWIND), and am looking forward to reading the final 2 books in the dystology. I also finally listened to the audiobook of HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE, read by Stephen Fry. It was just as amazing as I was expecting. Then I listened to the first in the LOCKWOOD & CO series - THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE, and loved it. I immediately bought the sequel, which says a lot. I'm now listening to the audiobook of the first in the SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT series, which I already know I'm going to love because I burst out laughing when listening to it while walking along the seafront, and accidentally scared a dog walker.


As for the writing side of things, last night I finished the first draft of my new manuscript. It took me about 7 weeks to write, and has been the easiest so far (probably jinxing myself by saying that, but eh). I usually take between 3-6 months to draft a new manuscript, so I'm feeling a teensy bit pleased with myself. Of course it still needs lots of work to revise it and polish it up ready for human eyes, but the bones are there, and the revision part -- which tends to be quite methodical and break-down-into-chunksable for me -- can wait until I've let it sit awhile. Not to mention doing the edits for PURGE, which is coming out this Autumn.

I've been finding plenty of new music to listen to lately, and my latest obsessions have a definite Americana vibe. Here are three of my favourite January Jams (that's not a thing, but go with it).





Lastly, looking ahead to February, I'm taking part in an Instagram challenge started by Dahlia Adler called AuthorLifeMonth, where there are writing-related pictures posted each day focusing on different themes. You can check out my pics here if you like.

Also coming up, I've got a couple of posts going live on Author Allsorts this month -- the first is an interview with Bryony Pearce about WINDRUNNER'S DAUGHTER, and the second is a post offering some insight into why I write thrillers. You can watch out for those here.

Hope you've had a fantastic January!

Kat out x

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Deciding What to Read

I have a habit of staring at my bookshelves and feeling a bit lost as to which book to read next. I love reading a variety of genres and categories, so without a system for choosing my next read, I'd just end up staring forever and not deciding on anything. My husband might wander past occasionally and slip me a Mars bar just to keep me going, maybe shake the dust from my shoulders, but it would basically not be a good way to live. So.

My goal for the year is to read 75-80 books, based on the fact I read 73 last year and wanted to stretch just that little bit further. (You can join in the Goodreads Reading Challenge with me here, if you like.) I have tons of physical books and e-books waiting to be read, so how do I break those down into some kind of order? I could go by genre, or by theme, or age group, or even just read them alphabetically. But as I'll be writing/editing as well, I want to try and keep my reading loosely in the same genre/vibe as what I'm working on. Organised, see? ;-)

For now, this is what I'm planning for the first half of the year.

Jan/early Feb: Middle Grade books. I've been promising myself for ages that I'll binge some great MGs, and now feels like a good time for it. I've just finished the first Harry Potter (I know, I know - I'm so 10 years ago), and I'm now reading THE DREAM SNATCHER. I also have another 10 MGs on my TBR shelf as well as 2 audiobooks I plan on listening to.

Feb: I'll be working on editing my YA sci-fi novel, so I think it's only right I binge some sci-fi. Just quickly scanning my shelves, I see PARTIALS, SKINNED, SLATED, THE LAST SURVIVOR, THESE BROKEN STARS, LEGEND, MOMUMENT 14, UNRAVELLING, ECHO BOY, BZRK, iBOY, BREATHE, EX-HEROES, and THE EYE OF MINDS all waiting for me. I think they're all sci-fi (one or two might be horror?), so I have plenty to be getting stuck into.

March: Any book I have on my TBR that has been sitting there more than a year. If I still don't fancy reading it, it's time for it to go. I have a younger sister who is a keen reader, so anything she doesn't want will go to the library or a charity shop.

April: I've already decided that as UKYA Day is in April, I'm going to spend this month reading UKYA books (either set in the UK or by UK authors) exclusively. One thing I'll be focusing on is finding books with a regional flavour from across the UK. From a tentative Twitter enquiry, it seems people have loads of great recommendations for North England settings, but the non-England ones have mostly been historicals (which are not, generally speaking, my bag). But my pal Tatum Flynn suggested AFTER THE SNOW, a post-apocalypse set in Wales, which I'm especially looking forward to, and I'll be looking for other weird and wonderful YAs set in Scotland and N. Ireland & ROI.

On my shelves at the moment I have MINTY, THE LAST LEAVES FALLING, MONSTER, several Kevin Brooks novels, 3 Cat Clarkes, NOUGHTS & CROSSES, IN ANOTHER LIFE, THE LIE TREE, WHITE PETALS, GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, and a few others I need to check re. their UK-ness. Suggestions are welcome in the comments, too!

May: This will be a busy month, as I'm going on a writing retreat (yay!) and I have a new book coming out (BREAKER - 24th May). What I read will depend on what I'm working on - hopefully something brand new. If it's one of the ideas I have at the moment, that will either mean sci-fi or magical realism. If it's the latter, I will definitely be reading BONE GAP this month (finally).

June: Summer is always a good time to (weather depending) lie out in the garden and catch up on book series. I have 2 I'm partway through at the moment (Neal Shusterman's brilliant UNWIND series and Beth Revis's ACROSS THE UNIVERSE trilogy), and about 5 new ones I want to start, so I'll use this month as a kind of half-year tidy up/kick starter for awesome new series.

So that should easily take me to the halfway mark of my 75 book target, right? If you have any suggestions to add to any month, or want to urge me to move any of the ones I've mentioned up to the top of the list, please do.

Kat out x




Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Favourite Reads of 2015




In no particular order, these are my 10 favourite YA & MG reads for this year.


1. The Boy Who Drew the Future by Rhian Ivory

Why I loved it: So haunting, with great historical detail woven into the mystery. It sweeps you right along to a powerful ending where the two narratives intersect.




2. The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Why I loved it: I've never read anything quite as disturbing or unique as this. The characters, the premise, even the format, are so skilfully disjointed that it keeps you guessing and second-guessing everything, right to the last page.








3. The D'Evil Diaries by Tatum Flynn

DuplicityWhy I loved it: Jinx is an absolutely adorable main character, especially for a demon, and the situations he gets into with Tommy on their adventure through Hell are hilarious.







4. Duplicity by N K Traver

Why I loved it: Duplicity has basically everything you'd want in a YA cyber thriller - great characters, intense plot, high stakes etc. But what really made this stand out was the humour and grit, and the main character was kind of a loveable asshole. It was basically my ideal book.








5. The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Why I loved it: The voice really hooked me, along with a fairly bizarre plot and rather dreamy cast of characters. 









6. Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Why I loved it: The same reasons everyone else on the planet seems to love it - Simon Vs was funny, romantic, and it made my heart happy. 









7. When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling

Why I loved it: I would compare it to The Accident Season in a lot of ways - the dreamy tone, the lyrical writing and off-beat characters. It's one of those books you think about for a long time after reading.







8. Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Why I loved it: Truly, truly creepy, with an extra dollop of creepy on the side.











9. The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

Why I loved it: This was such a great blend of contemporary and magical realism, with characters I fell in love with and a swoony romance.









10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Why I loved it: This was such old school geeky goodness! I listened to it on audiobook, and Wil Wheaton's reading of it was just perfect.






The Lost and the Found

ETA (because I'm an idiot and just realised I hadn't included one of my definite faves...)

11. The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

Why I loved it: Like all of Cat Clarke's books, it was heart-wrenching and gut-clenching and fist-bitey from start to finish, and with twists you'll never see coming.


What were your favourites this year?

Kat x

Monday, 28 December 2015

My 2015 in review

January

I started 2015 with some great news: my second book deal! BREAKER was announced as my follow-up to BLACKFIN SKY, with Running Press buying world rights from my marvellous agent, Ms Molly Ker Hawn. There was much excitement, let me tell you. I also joined a great bunch of UK authors blogging over at Author Allsorts.

February

The first ever UKYA Extravaganza event was held in Birmingham, and I was one of the 35 or so YA authors who went along to talk to the readers, bloggers, and aspiring writers who snapped up the tickets. It was such a great success my book sold out in the first few minutes, and I was left signing bookmarks and posters to hand out! I got to meet lots of UK YA authors whose books I love, so I did my share of fangirling while I was there, too.

March

To celebrate World Book Day, I held a couple of international giveaways of BLACKFIN SKY. Apart from that, it was a month where I focused on writing the first draft of a new YA novel, and not much else.

April

Still drafting... still drafting... and I announced my THIRD book deal!!! Yes, that's right, books 2 & 3 will both be out in 2016. The third is called PURGE, and sold to Firefly Press (again, the work of Marvellous Molly).

I also went on my first ever writing retreat to Criccieth in North Wales. It was arranged by the dazzling Dawn Kurtagich, author of THE DEAD HOUSE (which I loved) and THE CREEPER MAN (which I cannot wait to read), and much fun was had. I intended to finish the major edits to that novel I mentioned above, and while I did some, I didn't finish it. In fact, there was just something not quite working with it... so I worked on another project for a little bit, ate ice cream on the beach (it was unseasonably warm in Criccieth) and got to know a great bunch of authors.

May & June

These 2 months were mostly taken up by edits for BREAKER, alternating with revisions for my manuscript-in-progress. Also some sunbathing, which took my skin one shade away from looking like an extra from The Walking Dead for the first time since I was a child. I'm calling that a win.

July

YALC! In London! Where I did an agent-author talk with Marvellous Molly! It was a fantastic weekend full of schmoozing, signing, and star-spotting at London Film & Comic Con.

August

I was lucky enough to be invited to do a panel event with Cat Clarke, who is absolutely lovely as well as being an amazing author. She was promoting her latest novel - THE LOST AND THE FOUND - and I talked about BLACKFIN SKY. It was great fun, and I loved exploring the festival and the city of Edinburgh for the first time.

September 

More edits, more drafting, and the cover reveal for BREAKER! I am still in love with it, especially that creepy owl. And the feathery clouds. And the two figures walking across the school roof. FINE, the whole thing.


October

Still revising, editing, drafting, etc. I did some fun Halloween posts, wrote a short story called MOON SEASON for Simon P Clark's 1031 Story Challenge, got dressed up as a witch, and read a few horror novels. I also snuck out to see Nothing But Thieves playing in Manchester, and they were excellent.

I started getting into my exercise/audiobook regime more seriously this month, which saw an increase in my fitness level, and decrease in my writing productivity.

November

This month, I set up a pre-Christmas giveaway of BLACKFIN SKY over on Goodreads, and otherwise holed up in my writing cave to finish BREAKER edits and work on a few other projects. I emerged briefly to celebrate my birthday, then scampered back to the cave with cake around my mouth.

December

I started work on a new project, finished the final FINAL proofing for BREAKER, and generally got quite fat on turkey and sweets. Oh, and my husband gave me a brand new fleece poncho for Christmas. I think it makes me look like a friendlier version of Frank, the rabbit from Donnie Darko. What do you think?


Happy holidays!

Kat x

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Win one of 5 signed copies of BLACKFIN SKY, and get it in time for the holidays!

Why yes, I am subtly hinting that you could give a signed copy of my book to a loved one this December. Maybe that loved one is yourself, that's cool.

To be in with a chance to win one of 5 signed copies of BLACKFIN SKY (US edition), simply enter this here Goodreads giveaway before 5th December:




Goodreads Book Giveaway

Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis

Blackfin Sky

by Kat Ellis

Giveaway ends December 05, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway


Good luck!

Kat out x

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Out and about this Halloween

I went to see the band Nothing But Thieves last week, and they were amazing. They've been on my radar since their debut single 'Ban all the music' was released, and I snapped up tickets to go and see them in a tiny venue in Manchester when they came up. It was the first stop on their tour, I believe, and the singer seemed so genuinely pleased to have sold out the venue, it made me like them even more. Seemed like the sort of chap you could have a pleasant drink with, you know? Anyway, here's a really cool song they did for Radio 1's Live Lounge a while back.



Being in a Halloween frame of mind, I went to see Crimson Peak the other day. Visually, it was gorgeous - great sets, amazing costumes - and I enjoyed it, with a few reservations. I won't say anything spoilery, and if you see it and love it, then great.

On the writing side of things, I finished my copyedits sliiiiightly early, so decided to squeeze in a little writing outside of the stuff I'm actually supposed to be working on (next-next book and next-next-next book, yikes...) and whipped up a short story for Simon P Clark's annual 1031 Story Challenge. It's a creepy oldy Welshy witchy thing, and it's called MOON SEASON. You can check that out here, if you like, and follow the hashtag #1031Story on Twitter.

For All Hallows Eve, I and my authorly coven sisters, Dawn Kurtagich (THE DEAD HOUSE) and Tatum Flynn (THE D'EVIL DIARIES) will be ensorcelling our way onto Serendipity Viv's blog with some wicked fun stuff for the 'Ween. Do check it out later this week.

And finally, another band I'm absolutely smitten with at the moment is Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. I heard them on Jools Holland a few weeks ago, and they're keeping me company (in audio form, at least) as I work on revising the next manuscript. Here's a belting track from their new album.


Kat out x

Friday, 23 October 2015

On audiobooks, exercise, and the myth of 'extra time'

When I left my day job to become a full-time writer back in December, I made a sort of promise that I was going to use all the extra time* I now had to do things like exercise and catch up on my staggeringly huge TBR pile. I didn't really make a lot of headway with either for a few months as I was determinedly slogging through the first draft of a new manuscript, and felt guilty for not devoting every single second to what was now officially my 'work'. 

To con myself into leaving my writing cave for at least an hour a day, I decided to combine exercise with attacking my TBR, and so started going on long walks while listening to audiobooks. The results of this have been:

1) I feel much fitter. 
2) I am not in the slightest bit thinner, except for my ankles.
3) I have completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge to read 50 books this year (the audiobooks were a big boost to my total.)
4) I have been listening to books outside my usual binge-zone because I like a bargain, and tend to snap up audiobooks when they're on offer even if I might not read the book. 

This being the case, I'm calling my audiobook-walking regime a huge success, and I'm going to keep at it. And here are my 3 absolute favourite audiobooks to date (click the images to go to their Goodreads pages, from whence I nicked the blurbs):

DUPLICITY by N. K. Traver

(Definitely one of my favourite reads this year. Maybe ever. I loved the characters, the plot, the crazy premise - all of it. I fangirled over the author and checked that there was going to be a sequel, and lo! There is. Colour me happy!)

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he's gone.


READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

(I'm a massive nerd when it comes to sci-fi, and this ticked every single box for me - including having the awesome Wil Wheaton as the narrator. Computer games, classic and cult science fiction references, and epic robot battle simulations...? I'm in!)

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.



SOULLESS by Gail Carriger

(This is one I might never have gotten around to if I hadn't got it on audiobook, and I would  have missed out on a fabulous book! I loved the main character, Alexia, and the tongue-in-cheek humour throughout. I'll definitely be continuing the series.)

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 

First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire--and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


____

I'll update with any future audiobook recommendations in a few months. In the meantime, if you have loved an audiobook and want to point me in its direction, please do so in the comments! My ankles will thank you.


Kat out x

extra time does not exist. It is a mythical creature that is consumed before it ever truly comes into being by chores, work, and the occasional unexpected nap.

Monday, 28 September 2015

BREAKER cover reveal!

I've been dying to unleash this little beauty on the world for some time now, so without further ado, check out the cover for my next book, BREAKER!



Coming May 24, 2016 from Running Press Teen

Kyle Henry has a new name, a new school, and a new life—one without the shadow of the Bonebreaker hanging over him. It's been a year since his serial killer father's execution, and it finally looks like things are turning around for Kyle. 
Until he recognizes the girl sitting in the back row in homeroom. 
Naomi Steadman is immediately intrigued by Killdeer Academy's newcomer. She does not know he is the son of the man who murdered her mother. What she does know is she and Kyle have a connection with each other—and a spark that Kyle continues to back away from. 
Soon after Kyle’s arrival, the death count on campus starts to rise. Someone is set on finishing what the Bonebreaker started, and murdering ghosts from the past may be the only thing that can stop the spree.
Told in alternating viewpoints, Kat Ellis’s tale of mystery and horror is full of broken bonds and new beginnings.



What do you think?? 

I hope you love it as much as I do -- HUGE thanks to T L Bonaddio at Running Press for the design.

If you would like to add BREAKER to your Goodreads to-read list, you can do that here

There are also some handy links to online retailers to the right if you're feeling especially awesome and want to preorder it. (Preorders are more precious than unicorns to a starving author, you know.)

Kat out x

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Edinburgh Scoop... and BTW, have you voted for me in the Edinburgh First Book Awards yet?

Hello!

Emerging from the editing swamp to link to that full write-up of my Edinburgh Book Festival gig which is over on the Firefly Press site, aaaaaand to ask super-sweetly if you would mind voting for BLACKFIN SKY in the Edinburgh First Book Awards?


Voting is open until 16th October, and you can vote from any country. You can of course vote for a book other than BLACKFIN SKY, but really, why would you?


Thanks for voting!

Kat out x

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Edinburgh Adventure

Last week, I hit the road with my husband to go up to Scotland for the first time ever. I was lucky enough to be invited to do an event with the lovely & awesome Cat Clarke titled 'The Disappeared' on 18th August as part of Edinburgh Book Festival, and I had so much fun! I've done a write-up of the event, and that should appear over on Firefly Press's site in the next few days, so keep an eye out if you missed it and wish you hadn't.

Me & Cat Clarke discussing 'The Disappeared' at Edinburgh Book Festival

2 days in Edinburgh wasn't nearly enough, though, and I was a little gutted as we left the beautiful city that we hadn't had more time to explore - not only the sprawl of the festival, but Edinburgh itself. That said, I got to meet Cat for drinks; met my wonderful agency-mate Cecilia Vinesse (check out her amazing book deal news here!) and her delightful partner, Rachel Holmes; explored the castle; wandered through the Fringe; and watched my husband's face as he tried haggis for breakfast. (I admit, I couldn't face it. I have an issue eating anything that's been used as a filter.)


By the way, there's still time to vote for me/BLACKFIN SKY in the Edinburgh First Book Award. I would LOVE it if you did!

Next we headed down to the Lake District for a couple of days as a midway stop on our journey home. Windermere was lovely, even though it rained pretty much the entire time we were there. But we went out on the lake, took the car ferry to Hawkshead and mooched around various Beatrix Potter exhibits, and ate some rather splendid food. (No haggis.)


A photo posted by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

A confession, though: this was my first 'holiday' since becoming a published author, and it was kinda hard being away from my laptop. Sad, right? I also missed this evil little face.



Kat out x