Tuesday, 30 December 2014

My 2014 in review


I started the year by revealing my US cover for BLACKFIN SKY over on Icey Books, and seeing the trade reviews start to come in. Spoiler: They didn't hate it! It was fairly unanimously agreed that my book is weird, but I was and continue to be A-OK with that.


Went over the final proofs for the UK edition of Blackfin Sky. On a non-bookish note, I'd decided by this point to give up my full time day job in IT (sort of) and get a part-time one that would let me spend more time writing. The prospect made me deliriously happy and pants-shitteningly terrified all at once.


I turned in final US edits in a timely fashion! And started my new part-time admin job! I also went to xx women's writing festival and did my first ever panel with Lucy Christopher and Catherine Fisher (where I was very starstruck and more than a little bit nervous.)


I took part in Cardiff Childrens Literature Festival, doing an evening of readings and Q&A with Lucy Christopher and music from Quiet Marauder.


Firefly Press launch at Aberystwyth Arts Centre
On the 14th May, it was the UK release of Blackfin Sky. Firefly Press (my UK publisher) held a launch for all their first titles in Aberystwyth Arts Centre, and I had a special launch event at Prestatyn Library just for my little book, with readings from the local teen reading group and Q&A with librarian Kara Orford.


I went to my old high school for a careers day event, and told a room full of teenagers that I tell lies for a living, and sweatpants and fleece hoodies are my work uniform. Not sure whether I successfully sold the author career or not, but nobody pulled the fire alarm, so I'm assuming it didn't suck.

Dawn & Me at YALC

YALC - the first ever UK YA literary con - happened down in London, and I went there with Penny from Firefly Press and the always-wonderful Dawn Kurtagich (author of THE DEAD HOUSE, which will be out in 2015 and which you all need to have on your radars!) It was a great success, and I got to meet loads of author and blogger pals in real life.


Nothing happened. Well, it did, but it mostly involved me lying in my back garden reading and enjoying the strangely excellent weather. I suppose I wrote and edited a bit, but it was mostly the garden thing.


My book came out in the US! I think my dad was probably the first person to buy an actual physical copy over there as he was on holiday in Florida. My mam and stepdad threw a US-themed party on release day, and we ate burgers and drank Bud, all authentic-like.

I also started tinkering with a couple of new stories...


I wrote quite a bit this month, in between trying to balance promoting Blackfin Sky with not being totally obnoxious on social media. My book was chosen as a Junior Library Guild Fall Pick (YAY!) and I celebrated Halloween with a spooky giveaway. I also did a Dear Teen Me feature, which was really fun, and my dad was strangely horrified by it. Yay.


I nanoed a bit. It was also my 32nd birthday, and I was given a metric shizload of books, but as I was in draft-mode I didn't allow myself to read any of them. (I have a weird thing where I can't write a first draft and maintain a healthy reading life. Ugh.)


Yay! We're here, at the end of 2014! I finally finished a respectable first draft of my new MS, and went on an epic reading binge - WHEEEE! I was also given this rather spiffing hat by Father Christmas (my mam), so.

And that was my 2014. I hope you had a fantastic year, and here's to a doubly-marvellous 2015!

*clinks champagne flute* CHEERS.

Kat x

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Festive Round Up

Me, age 3
Last time I was ever mistaken for an angel.

Hello, and happy holidays! This isn't my 'What happened in 2014' post, although I might do one in the next couple of weeks, but I have been whirling around in a wordnado for a while now, so decided to lay it all out here (this urge is no doubt a throwback to my youth when I felt I needed to explain why I hadn't done all my homework or finished my chores. I still don't do either of those things.)

Ok, so Nano - what the heck happened there?? Well, I got to about 40k by mid-November, and was feeling awfully pleased with myself, so I kind of ran out of steam. I also thought I was within a few thousand words of finishing the draft (WRONG) so I figured I'd slack off and finish it at my own pace.

My own pace meant I actually wrote those delicious words 'THE END' yesterday evening. I know, I know - almost an extra month to finish the last few chapters of a rough-ass draft is not exactly rocketing, but it's done. Now the manuscript gets to fester in a dark room for a few weeks while I catch up on some reading.

And I have LOTS of reading to do! I'm really looking forward to getting through some horror novels (I never did make it through my Halloween reading list...) as well as some fun romances and sci-fis that'll make my brain implode. Always fun, that. But I'm starting with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME - a collection of festive short stories by some of the biggest names in YA authordom. I'm looking forward to starting that one today.

In January I'll peel my ugly draft from its fungal recess and begin revising and editing and generally performing miracles on it until it becomes a readable little gremlin of a book. That's the plan, anyway - once all the belly-stuffing and present-opening are done.

2015 is going to be bringing some big changes and fun things which I'll write about in the new year, so until then...

XO and mistletoe!


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Special Offer from Firefly Press

My UK publisher has a great offer on Blackfin Sky right now...


Buy before 21st December, and you can get Blackfin Sky for just £6.99 including giftwrap and postage! Order here.

You should also check out Firefly Press's other books while you're there, because they have some fantastic titles and a bunch of other special offers in the run up to Christmas.

Kat  x

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Week Two in the Nanohouse, and author Kat is barely clinging to sanity...

You may have heard me mention the fleece poncho (on several occasions, actually) but it has become my weapon of choice, if you will, for surviving the wilds of Nanowrimo. I've been wearing it for the last three days, and let me tell you, fleece is not the best at staying fresh. Don't you wish you were within smell-range of me now? DON'T YOU???

This photo is from last year, btw. I don't have my Christmas
decorations up yet because that would be INSANE.
Yeah. Anyway, Nanowrimo is going well, and as of now, I've written over 17,000 words this month. Not too shabby, if I say so myself. I'm aiming to write at least 2k every day this week, which should get me well ahead of the target.

Other cool things going on this week:

1. I won a signed copy of Amanda Maciel's awesome-looking TEASE, in which a girl is prosecuted for bullying which may or may not have led to another girl's suicide. You can check it out on Goodreads here. Sounds gripping, and I'm looking forward to reading this bad boy a lot.

2. Today (Tuesday) is my birthday! HOORAY! And my good friend Jani Grey (who is awesome and lovely) sent me these cool things in the mail:


Neal Shusterman's UNWIND is one of my all-time fave books,
so I'm well chuffed to finally have the last book in the series!

I love birthdays. They are ACE.

For now...

Kat out x

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Nanowrimo like a mofo, and actually being social like a human

It seems like I was lying in the garden swearing at crickets just a couple of weeks ago, and now I'm dressed head to toe -- literally -- in fleece.

(Wasn't that a nice, super-British intro?)

Anyway. Happy November. A few things to talk about, starting with the most writerly, and ending with the least.

1. For the first time ever, I'm taking part in Nanowrimo. This is National Novel Writing Month to the uninitiated, and it means I, along with the entire internet, it seems, have committed to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November.

Now, I'll start by being upfront about 2 things: 1) I don't know if I'll do it. I'm on track at the time of writing this, but... *shrugs* I'm not exactly speedy at first drafts. 2) I'm splitting the 50k between 2 manuscripts, because I don't think I have 50,000 words left in the one I'm mostly working on. So, according to the rules of the game, I can't actually WIN Nanowrimo, even if I complete my 50k. So at best I'll be an also-ran, but still -- it'll be a big achievement if I finish it. That said, I have some time off work, so I can stay up really late and write during the witching hours when pretty much all of my words are made. The words, they mostly come at night... mostly.

...Yeah. Anyway, wish me luck.

2) I should probably have started with this one because it's a thank you, but THANK YOU to everyone who entered my Halloween giveaway. The winners have been randomly selected, and the signed copies of Blackfin Sky were mailed earlier this week. They're basically flying through the air on teeny tiny broomsticks right now.

3) I got 2 particularly amazing reviews of Blackfin Sky this week - one on Geek Syndicate, and a reader review on The Guardian's website. There was much Snoopy-dancing, trust me. I also got to do a Dear Teen Me feature, which was pretty cool, and has some pictures of me as a teenager in case you're curious about what kind of dork I was.

4) I actually left the house to do more than grocery shopping! I recently saw Chevelle play in Manchester (AWESOME)...

Chevelle. I know, it could be anyone, but my phone camera sucks ass.
...and went to An Evening with Noel Fielding (INSANE and AWESOME) in Llandudno.
Noel Fielding. Also the head of the guy in front of me.
So that's what I've been up to. Now heading back into my writing cave to carve out some more nano-words.

Peace out, yo.

K x

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Halloween Giveaway - Win one of 3 signed copies of Blackfin Sky!

Meet this sinister fellow in Blackfin Sky

The Ween is almost upon us! You'll be needing a new spooky read to add to your TBR pile, right? With a creepy circus, a haunted weathervane, and a girl who mysteriously returns from the dead, why not enter to win my spooky debut...?

When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened.

Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it. 

I have 3 SIGNED copies to give away, and it's international. Enter using the rafflecopter below.

Please note: Winners in UK/Commonwealth will automatically win the UK edition, and USA/Canada/anywhere else in the world will get the US edition - unless you specify otherwise. Just let me know ASAP after the winners are announced.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Scary reads on my Halloween TBR

I don't often post about what I'm reading, but as it's almost Halloween and I have a few scary/spooky books lined up in my reading pile, I thought I'd share a few here. Not sure how many I'll get through before the Ween is upon us, but I'll give it my best shot...

1. Sleepless by Lou Morgan

This is one of the first titles in the new Red Eye series (watch the series trailer here), and it looks awesome. 

Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming – and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the group begin taking the study drug. It doesn’t take long before they realize there are far worse things than failing a few exams.

It's also a BARGAIN on e-book at the moment at just 59p! The paperback comes out in January, in case you're a nerd like me and have to buy both.

2. The Cellar by Natasha Preston

For months Summer is trapped in a cellar with the man who took her—and three other girls: Rose, Poppy, and Violet. His perfect, pure flowers. His family. But flowers can't survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out...

I grabbed this one for 3 reasons: 

1) Loved the chilling blurb. 

2) Loved the spooky cover. 

3) Another e-book bargain at only £1.23

3. Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

I'm a huge fan of Michael Grant's, and just finished the last in the epic GONE series, so I am pretty much salivating over this book. This was the cover I got, but I honestly can't decide which I prefer - this, or the red one with the gory amputated hand. Ah, decisions, decisions...

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.
But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out...

4. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. It's an eternal party, shown on TV 24 hours a day - gorgeous, glamorous, deadly! Because, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave...

I bought this after being lucky enough to hear Holly Black read from it at last year's World Fantasy Con, but have been saving it to read when I needed something good 'n' chilling. If not Halloween, then when, right??

5. Say Her Name by James Dawson

Again, I've been wanting to read this one for a while, and just look at that gorgeous cover! Also, James Dawson very kindly sent me a signed bookplate to go inside my copy. Feel free to have the jealousy.

Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of Bloody Mary: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear... But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror - five days - but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before...

Grab your copy here. Probably best not to read it out loud surrounded by candles while looking in the mirror, eh?

6. Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind… Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lillias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.

This is another Red Eye title, and the e-book is again just 59p. INSANITY BARGAIN.


Got any brilliant scary reads on your Halloween TBR? If you have any must-read recommendations, let me know in the comments.

Kat out x

Thursday, 9 October 2014

I'm a JLG Fall pick!

...Well, my book is.

BLACKFIN SKY has officially been chosen by the Junior Library Guild in the US as one of their Fall book picks. You can check it out on their site here. It's so awesome to be chosen, and to know that even more readers will get to grab themselves a little Blackfin goodness this Fall!

Kat out x

Friday, 3 October 2014


The summer turned into one long-held breath for me, working on bits and pieces and waiting for the US release of Blackfin Sky, and for schools to go back so that I could start up again with the talks and visits and so on. And then September rolled around, and it was my US RELEASE and ALL THE EXCITEMENT, and then again I disappeared back into my writing cave to become a feral writer.

That, by the way, was my long-winded way of saying 'Oops, I haven't posted an update in over a month.' Sorry. My bad.

I went to visit a book club today in a little village about an hour away from where I live, and I hadn't a clue what to expect before I got there (I wasn't even sure whether it was an English-speaking or Welsh-speaking group, but I was braced for either). But the whole group were lovely, and had a bunch of great questions already lined up, and some real brain-stretchers too.

There were better pictures than this, but I quite like how randomly windswept I look.

I have this weird expectation that one day I'll be invited to speak to a group just so they can tear me to shreds, but -- spit three times and spin in a circle for luck -- it hasn't happened yet. Maybe next time...

Speaking of this intangible 'next', what else will I be doing from now on?

Well, hopefully some more groups and visits, but what I'm mainly looking forward to is getting really stuck into WRITING. I know, shocker. And didn't I just say that's what I've been doing all summer? Well, yes, but that was polishing off a now-polished manuscript, and I can't not have a story to work on.

So now I have 2.

I'm breaking one of my own decrees here (THOU SHALT NOT DOUBLE-DIP THE MANUSCRIPT INK or something), but there are 2 stories jostling around inside my sticky brain, and I've gotten into a situation where I can't set either aside. This isn't any big thing for most writers, but I'm generally very single- (simple?) minded about things like this, so working on 2 manuscripts at the same time is like leaping into the abyss. Or something less dramatic than that, but still.

And as always, I've self-imposed a ridiculous deadline, so I'm not even going to commit to a finish date in this public space. But I'm aiming for The Fast and the Furious-style productivity.

I'll try to be a bit better at posting here now, but if not, please assume it's because I'm being authorly (and not just watching X Factor repeats).

Kat out for now x

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Going Stateside!

Blackfin Sky is out in the US today (AAAAAH!) which I'm sure you'll be aware of if you've seen me cartwheeling all over twitter and Facebook.

But the truth is, I wouldn't have been online at all otherwise. I've been deep inside my writing cave, working on edits for a new manuscript and getting started on a NEW new manuscript. Keeping busy, innit.

I've got a few things in the pipeline that I'll write about here soon, but in the meantime, have some celebratory USA cake.

Kat out x

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Ace Review and ARC Giveaway!

Hello peeps. Sorry for the relative silence of late, but I've been holed up in my writing cave hammering out edits on one manuscript and latterly drafting a new one (not a complete one - I'm not a machine.)

I just wanted to share with you this wicked (in the best way!) review of the US edition of Blackfin Sky. If you watch it and live in the US, you'll get a chance to enter a giveaway for one of the last ARC copies of the book, and could even read it before its official release on September 2nd!

Here's the link to Lainey's amazing video:


The giveaway ends on August 18th, so don't miss out! And even though I'm completely biased, you can trust me when I say you should definitely subscribe to Lainey's channel for more bookish goodness. Oh, and follow her on twitter @readalongLainey too!

I'll be back on form with the blogging soon. In the meantime, I'm lurking on twitter most days if you want to say hi, or you can check out my new-ish facebook page to see some recent photos from events.

For now...

Kat out x

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Heads up! US Giveaway of BLACKFIN SKY

Hello again! Just a quick heads up to my US pals: there's a giveaway happening right now, thanks to my US publisher Running Press Teen, where you can enter to win an early copy and some really cool,  secret extras! Closes soon, so HURRY.

Enter on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/101914-blackfin-sky

This is the very last time an advance copy will be given away before the September release, so good luck!

Kat out x

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Kindle Summer Reads & Special Offer from Firefly Press

Hi guys,

Just wanted to let you know about a couple of promotions going on right now:

Blackfin Sky is only 99p right now on Amazon Kindle UK as part of their Summer Reads promotion. Get it quick, before the price goes back up...

Firefly Press are offering free UK delivery when you order Blackfin Sky direct from their website, so grab yourself a bargain!

...And whatever you're reading right now, enjoy!

Kat out x

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What happened at YALC

Last weekend, I zoomed down to London for the UK's first ever YA literature con, YALC. It was being held as part of the larger London Film and Comic Con, and the crowds were HUGE and kinda spectacular - my buddy Freddie (above) was only one of scores of people there cosplaying.

I had a fantastic/hilarious/exhausting/fun/sweaty/amazing time there, and judging by the blog posts that have already gone up about it all over the interwebz, I'm not alone.

Here's the skinny.


Dawn & Me, being well serious, yo.
My author pal Dawn Kurtagich, whose novel THE DEAD HOUSE comes out next year (and sounds bloody amazing!) trawled the con with me for the weekend, and it was so exciting to hear people talking about her novel. It's going to be HUGE, people.

Penny Thomas from Firefly Press was also there, and it was lovely catching up and talking about exciting Blackfin Sky-type things with her. All the Blackfin Sky goodies that were being given out in the publishers' area flew out with a quickness, which was great to hear!

L-R: Marcus Sedgwick, Emma Vieceli,
Ian Edgington, Sarah McIntyre
Dawn and I arrived early Saturday afternoon - just in time to catch the last part of the panel 'Going Graphic: from novel to graphic novel', which was interesting, although I unfortunately missed most of it (what with trains and zooming and such). I have to say that Sarah McIntyre (chairing, far right) looked AMAZING in her cosplay outfit, and was still looking immaculate in it that night at the author party at Earl's Court.

Later on, I caught the Heroes of Horror panel with Charlie Higson (who I still fangirl over from his days on The Fast Show - as well as his zombie novels, of course), Derek Landy, Darren Shan, Will Hill, and chaired by Rosie Fletcher. I loved this panel, although I've only read Charlie Higson's novels, but will definitely be picking up the others! They talked about the differences between YA and adult horror -- the graphic violence/gore aspect, the sex etc. -- and about how horror is a great gateway genre to go from YA to adult reading generally.

L-R: Rosie Fletcher, Charlie Higson, Darren Shan, Will Hill & Derek Landy

That was the last panel of the day, and after that we stuck around for the author party in a secret green-roomy type area of Earl's Court. I got to meet (read: awkwardly fangirl over) quite a few authors, including C J Skuse, Sally Green, Alexia Casale, and the wonderful Queen of Teen himself, James Dawson. 

After the party, Dawn and I went to meet up with some author and blogger pals for drinks. I met the lovely Luna of Luna's Little Library, who was the first blogger ever to review Blackfin Sky - and she is just as lovely as I'd heard! I also got to catch up with all-round fabulistas Tatum Flynn (taking the photo) and Marieke Nijkamp, and a fab gang of folks I met for the first time after chatting with them on twitter.

Oh, and this happened.

Seizing the Iron Throne. As you do.


The 'I'm too sexy for this book' panel, featuring Cat Clarke, Non Pratt, Beth Reekles, and James Dawson, was absolutely hilarious! Phrases like "alternative hole use" and "when you're writing, sometimes you just have to hammer it out..." kept the packed room in stitches, and I have to say this was my favourite panel of the entire con.

L-R: James Dawson, Cat Clarke, Non Pratt & Beth Reekles

We managed to catch one more before our train took us back up to North Wales, and it was certainly one to watch! The 'Crossover: Not just for kids' panel got a little... er... contentious, but still very interesting.

L-R: Nick Lake, Anthony McGowan, Meg Rosoff, Matt Haig
& David Maybury (who might be a little obsessed with Stan Lee.)

I queued up afterwards to get a signed copy of Matt Haig's ECHO BOY, which I'm just dying to read, and snagged some more signed books and swag to take home.

A few trains later, we were back home in North Wales, thoroughly exhausted. I had a brilliant time at YALC, and really hope there will be another YALC in 2015!

Til next time, London...

Kat out x

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

US giveaway of Blackfin Sky!

My US publisher, Running Press Teen, are holding the first ever US ARC giveaway of Blackfin Sky right now!

If you're in the US and would like to win an ARC of Blackfin Sky, plus - PLUS - a letter from me with some EXCLUSIVE extra content, then head on over to Goodreads by 10th July to enter.

Good luck!

Kat out x

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

In which I take over Firefly... or at least their site


Just a quick note to point you in the direction of my guest post today over on Firefly Press's website, in which I talk about the upcoming YALC (Young Adult Literary Convention) in London, where I will be heading in less than 2 weeks!

Hope to see you there.

Kat out x

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My first month as a published author

Hi guys!

I meant to post this on 14th June so that it would be exactly a month after my book released over here in the UK, but that didn't happen. Oops.

So, what does a published author do once their book is out there?

Before BLACKFIN SKY's release, I'd wondered myself what would happen once it was 'out there' in the world, so I thought it might be interesting to record some of it here.

This is a hangover from pre-publication, but it doesn't suddenly grind to a halt once people can actually buy it. I've posted a few more links than usual to reviews and discount online book sites and stuff like that (I assume people who follow me want to know what's happening with my bookish stuff, not just see pictures of my cat... though I offer up plenty of both), and I've done a few interviews and guest posts on other sites, too. You can check those out on the interviews and appearances page.

I've already posted about the first panel I did with Catherine Fisher and Lucy Christopher at XX Women's Writing Festival, and I did another with Lucy and Quiet Marauder at the Cardiff Children's Literature Festival before my official release.

Firefly Press held a launch for all 4 of their first titles on 15th May, so I went along with Dan Anthony and Heather Dyer, whose books also came out last month, and did readings and talked a bit about our books at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. That was so much fun, and had such a mixed crowd!

I had a local release event for Blackfin Sky at Prestatyn Library on 23rd May, and it was amazing to see so many people from the area coming to see lil' old me talk about my lil' old book. I signed a bunch of copies, too!

Up next, I'll be going along to YALC in London on 12th & 13th July, so I'll be blogging about my adventures there afterward. I'll also be taking my fancy pen with me, so if you're going to be there and would like your copy of Blackfin Sky signed, keep an eye out for me! After that, I have a session at Gwyl Arall in Caernarfon on 19th July - I'll post more details here when I have them.

School visits
I had my first one yesterday with the sixth form at my old high school, where I got to talk about what it's really like being a writer. For real. (I didn't wear sweatpants and a hoodie, though, so maybe I showed them a slightly glamorised version of my authorly lifestyle...)

The next one will be on Friday, and then I have another couple in the works over the coming months. I would like to say that I'm not nervous about doing this. I would LIKE to say that...

I've been to a few bookshops in my local area and signed copies for them to sell with that special 'signed by the author' sticker on the front. I'm not ashamed to admit that I practised my 'official' autograph quite a bit before my book came out. I had not realised how hard it would be to maintain the same autograph book after book (I have weird, squirrelly writing that never looks the same twice) or how hard it is to write coherently when someone is talking to you. I'll have to practice that a bit more, eh??

The work goes on
Specifically, editing my new novel. This one was a bit of a change of pace for me, but it seems to be coming together pretty well (finally!) I'm hoping to be done with it and working on the next one in a couple of weeks. All go!

There will be lots more to do in the run up to Blackfin Sky's US release on 2nd September (and after), but this is everything I've been doing and planning in the last few weeks. More soon!

Kat out x

Monday, 26 May 2014

Mr. Hallett

If you follow me along any of my various internet pathways, you'll know that last Friday (23rd May) I had a launch event for Blackfin Sky at Prestatyn Library. This post is a little bit about that, but actually the story began almost 20 years ago.

I grew up in a North Wales town called Prestatyn. When I was old enough to walk from my house into town by myself, I used to go and spend my hard-earned (or not earned at all, actually) pocket money in my local bookshop, Books Unlimited, owned by one Mr. Hallett.

It was a little shop crammed floor-to-ceiling with books, not built to be a shop at all, but actually a converted house, with little rooms on different levels sectioning the books by category. Naturally, I always made a beeline for the children's and teens' section, up the steps at the back of the shop.

This was a ritual of mine: every Saturday I went in and bought a book, and if I was reading a series, I'd order the next book in the series so it would be waiting for me the following Saturday. Then Mr. Hallett would wrap the book in a paper bag -- the same kind the lady at the sweetshop used to wrap the sweets in -- and I'd take my book home to read. And I wouldn't lift my head from the book until I'd finished reading, which was generally by tea time.

The routine went on for a few years, and though Mr. Hallett and I didn't really chat, he would occasionally recommend books for me to read. I think he could tell when I'd finished a series, and I had that lost, slightly forlorn look I know I still wear when I've had to part with beloved characters.

As I got older, I started to work on weekends (for beer money), so stopped going into Books Unlimited. The shop finally closed when Mr. Hallett retired sometime during my late teens, and I didn't see him again... until last Friday.

I have no idea whether Mr. Hallett recognised me from the flyer advertising Blackfin Sky's launch, or if it was purely an interest in books which brought him there, but when I looked up and saw him waiting to have his copy of my book signed, I felt like something had come full circle. I told him all this, about how I used to buy books from him every Saturday and how he and his shop played a huge part in developing my early love of reading. I don't know whether he remembered me or not, as I was talking far too much for him to get a word in edgewise.

Finally, I asked if I could double-check the spelling of 'Hallett' before I wrote my message in the front of his copy. He smiled, and said, "Please make it out to Victor."

So I did. I thanked him for encouraging my early love of books, and said that I hoped he would enjoy reading Blackfin Sky. Because without the inspiration I drew from the books he sold me all those years ago, I probably wouldn't have written it.

I'm still not sure I've spelled 'Hallett' correctly, so if not, I hope I am forgiven.

Kat out x

Monday, 19 May 2014

Review: EREN by Simon P Clark

YA novels are my niche, both in terms of reading and writing, but I was still chomping at the bit to get an advance copy of Simon P Clark's debut MG novel, EREN.

You see, Simon is an online friend from twitter, and he's also represented by marvellous agent Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency. So I already knew that Simon was very funny and charming, and that he was bound to be very talented. When you know this about someone, you want to read their book.

This is what it’s about.

‘Tell the story to its end,’ says Eren with a grin. His yellow eyes are glowing like embers in the night. 

People are keeping secrets from Oli - about where his father is, and why he hasn't come to join them at his uncle's house in the country.

But Oli has secrets too.

He knows what lives in the attic. Eren - part monster, part dream, part myth. Eren who always seems so interested, who always wants to hear more about Oli's life. Eren, who needs to hear stories to live, and will take them from Oli, no matter the cost.

As much as I would tell anyone “I don’t really read MG”, I forgot about that within a few sentences of reading EREN. The story begins (or does it?) with Oli and his mother travelling from London to stay with relatives, and the author’s conjuring of British summer holidays, the awkward trips to visit unfamiliar relations, and the discovery of Important Things like a portal (sliding fence panel) between two gardens, transported me back to when I was Oli’s age. I could absolutely relate to his sense of being kept in the dark by the adults around him, but the mysterious draw of the attic invites him into the dark rather than keeping him there.

Oli is a smart, thoughtful character, and he worries about things like rumours about his politician father, his mother looking exhausted, tentative friendships which might last a day or a summer or longer, but who knows? And I could see how a shadowy creature who lived in the attic and fed on stories could be a relief from all those other things.

EREN goes to some dark places, but there’s a lot of light in there as well. His friends Em and Takeru are brilliant and fun, and when the three are together there’s an irrepressible sense of adventure that had me grinning. I liked the careful affection-building between Oli and his uncle and aunt, and the way Oli saw through his mother’s snappy moods and protected her as much as she believed she protected him from the truth.

I’ve read that EREN will appeal to fans of David Almond and Patrick Ness, and would absolutely agree. This is skilful storytelling; the kind that feels destined to become a classic.

You can add EREN to your Goodreads TBR, and preorder here from Amazon UK. It is due out on 18th September from Constable & Robinson. In the meantime, keep an eye on Simon's website, where EREN TALES -- companion stories to EREN, with wonderful illustrations -- can be found!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Firefly's first 4 titles launched in Aberystwyth

So, it's the end of Blackfin Sky's official UK release week! (Yep. I claimed the entire week.)

I thought I'd update you with a few pics from the Firefly launch event that took place in Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 15th May. I was there, along with Dan Anthony - author of Steve's Dreams - and Heather Dyer - author of The Flying Bedroom, and of course Penny Thomas and Janet Thomas from Firefly Press, and a whole ROOMFUL of brilliant people who came to listen to us talk about our books.

We each said a little bit about the kind of stories we write, then read for a few minutes before people got their copies signed.

It was also great fun getting to meet Sarah Taylor (why didn't I think to grab a photo?!?!), who won the first Firefly writing contest this year with her story Arthur & Me, which is soon to be published by Firefly Press.

As is the tradition at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, I was asked to sign a pillar in the bookshop and quote the first line from Blackfin Sky. Here it is!

Thereafter, many drinks were had...

If you're in the North Wales-ish area and fancy coming to Blackfin Sky's local launch event, you can come along to Prestatyn Library at 7pm this Friday, 23rd May. Hope to see you there!

Kat out x

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

BLACKFIN SKY - Release Day Giveaway!

Hello peeps! Blackfin Sky is officially released in the UK today, and to celebrate I'm holding an international giveaway!

Enter using this nifty rafflecopter doojit.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is international. If you're not in the UK/Commonwealth, the signed copy will be an ARC of the US edition (otherwise a finished copy of the UK edition).

Friday, 2 May 2014

First review!

Blackfin Sky received a Sunshine Star-rated review from Luna's Little Library review site today - HOORAY! You can read it here if you'd like (and you should. It's STELLAR.)

Kat out x

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Blackfin Sky's official UK trailer!

Check. It. OUT.

This was animated by the outstanding Whitney Gardner and Roger Braunstein of PartlyHuman, with illustrations by Shane Rebenschied who also did the cover illustration for the UK version of Blackfin Sky (and covers for Chuck Wendig, covers for The Walking Dead series, and so on...I know, AAAH! Check out his site here.)

What do you think??

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Spring already?!?!

The very lovely Dawn Kurtagich posted her latest vlog today, following the I Love Spring Book Tag, and gave an awesome shout-out to Blackfin Sky. She also pointed out that there are only two and a half weeks left til it comes out in the UK, so I'm just going to go and freak out in the corner while you watch her fab vlog.

Kat out x

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

ARCs! Interviews! Stuff!

Ok, so just a couple or 3 things to spill...

#1: I'm over on the lovely E M Castellan's blog today answering questions about Blackfin Sky and other cool stuff for her A Writer in the Spotlight series. You should go and read that. Then come back and read the other 2 awesome things I have to tell you.

Go on then. *shoos you away*

#2: I got an exciting package in the post today, all the way from my editor at Running Press Teens in the US.


(That's Advance Reader Copies, if you're wondering.)

This is a Big. Frickin. Deal.

Not least because I'm going to be doing one or two ARC giveaways in the very near future. I'm thinking the first might just happen THIS WEEKEND. I'll make it nice and easy - all you'll need to do to be entered is tweet with the hashtag #BlackfinSky, letting your tweeps know why you want a copy, and I'll pick one person at random to get an ARC. Follow me on twitter @el_kat so you don't miss the times to tweet!

#3: On this side of the pond, there are only 3 WEEKS til Blackfin Sky is released! An awesome trailer is being finalised as we speak, and I'll be sharing that with you all VERY soon. Seriously, you'll want to see it because it is amazing.

*Cue angelsong*

But for now....

Kat out x

Saturday, 12 April 2014

What Happened in Cardiff

Thursday night was my gig alongside Lucy Christopher and Quiet Marauder at Cardiff Children's Literature Festival, which took the form of readings, Q&A with Tom Anderson, and music at Waterstones in the centre of Cardiff. Here are some snaps!

Lucy Christopher reading from The Killing Woods (LOVE)
Me talking about Blackfin Sky (photo courtesy of @wstonecardiff)

Taking questions, chatting and what have you...

Lucy and me signing each other's books!

Simon from Quiet Marauder talks about the inspiration behind the companion songs written for The Killing Woods, and the 111-track album they have coming out soon!
It was a fantastic event, and my first time actually signing Blackfin Sky. Now there are a few inked copies out there in the world...EEP!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Cardiff Children's Lit Fest - with Lucy Christopher and me!

Just a quick reminder to anyone in the Cardiff / South Wales area: you can come and spend an evening with Lucy Christopher - author of Stolen, Flyaway, and The Killing Woods - and ME! This Thursday, 10th April, we'll be talking about our books and reading from them, and the band Quiet Marauder - who wrote companion music to Lucy's latest novel - will be appearing. A FUN EVENING INDEED.

Here's where the tickets live: http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/content.asp?nav=2868,6584,6615&parent_directory_id=2865&id=14867&Language=

Hope to see you there!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Plot Holes and Plug Holes - The Writing Process Blog Tour

Thanks to my lovely twitter pal Emma Greenwood, I’m dedicating this post to talking about what - and how - I write, as part of The Writing Process blog tour.

Emma is the green columnist at Liberti magazine, blogs on green issues right here, and is a writer of YA fiction. She is currently working with Imogen Cooper at The Golden Egg Academy on her Brit Grime teen novel about arson and dangerous relationships. Emma uses ‘method writing’ to channel her characters, which she wrote about for her post on this tour, so you should definitely check that out.

So for the tour, I answer 4 questions about writing, and then hand over to 3 writer friends to post their blog posts next week. Neato.

1. What am I working on?

Right now I’m getting ready for my debut YA novel, BLACKFIN SKY, to be released in the UK. It comes out on 14th May over here, so I’m preparing for this by doing blog posts and interviews, author events and festivals, and generally doing promotional stuff and stalking my book online.

I’m also editing another manuscript and starting to outline a couple of short stories that I’m planning to write over the next month or so, and catching up on my reading.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

BLACKFIN SKY is very much a dark thriller, but it’s also magical realism, which sort of sets it apart right away. Very odd things happen in the town of Blackfin - the Penny Well will pick your pockets if you pass too close to it; failing to salute the haunted weathervane as you pass results in foul weather; and the Blood House might lock its doors if it doesn’t like the person trying to get in. All these things are par for the course in Blackfin, though, and can make it a tricky place to look for logical answers, as Sky discovers when she shows up at school after everyone believing she was dead for 3 months!

3. Why do I write what I do?

I love anything that’s quirky and makes you think, and that’s what I aim to do with my writing. I take my characters on adventures, having a hundred crazy things happen to them that they have to figure out. I hope my excitement as a writer comes through in the story.

4. How does my writing process work?

I’ll preface this by saying that a) I am a control freak, and b) I have a shocking memory. Both those things add up to me being a very methodical plotter.

How I plot:

As the title of this post suggests, I do a lot of plotting in the bathtub. I find a good ceiling-stare is vital for figuring out a new plot, although you can substitute the bathtub for lying on the floor, in a pinch.

By the time my fingers turn pruny, I’ll want to know the overall plot, and the hook of the story – the idea that can be summed up in a sentence or two to snag the interest of an agent, editor, or reader. Once I have this, I begin to outline.

How I outline:

I begin with a new Word doc. (Mind blown, right??) Now, insert five numbered ‘Part’ headings: Part 1, Part 2, etc. In between these, put in at least 5 ‘Chapter’ headings, so you end up with around 25 chapters, separated evenly by the Part headings. These ‘Part’ separators are where I, in my brain, will want to put a WTF moment into my book. They’ll shift around during the writing and editing, but if I at least start with them evenly spaced, it should help with the pacing.

I work to the idea that each chapter is about 3k words long, so if I wrote exactly according to this outline, I’d have a book about 75k long at the end. If you tend to write shorter chapters, add in more Chapter headings in between the Part headings. You see, it’s starting to make sense now, right?

Now, under each chapter heading, write a sentence or two saying what happens in that chapter: ‘Brian gets run over by a bus. Wakes up in hospital speaking Portuguese.’ Something along those lines. Having this guide helps me know where I’m heading as I write, and avoid those chapters where the MC spends 2k words musing on the intangibility of clouds.

The outline shifts and changes as I’m drafting, but I prefer to have it as a steer to keep me from writing myself into a dead end. It’s also handy to use as a basis for the synopsis/pitch when the manuscript is complete.

How I edit:

I use a double-sweep method, which I affectionately call the Peanut Butter Method. The first editing sweep (Chunky Edits) focuses on major plot holes and reshuffling events for continuity and pacing. The second sweep (Smooth Edits) focuses on characterisation, world-building, smoothing out the parts I’ve shuffled and plugged in the Chunky Edits, and then line editing.

I’ll usually read my manuscript aloud to my husband after completing the Smooth Edits to refine the language more, and take out the clunky parts that have snuck through editing.

Then I send my manuscript off to my beta readers – usually 2 rounds, to make sure I cover my bases. If all is well, and I’m confident my manuscript is the best I can make it, I’ll send it off to my agent to work her magic on. That’s it!


With it being UKYA month in April, I’ve been thinking a lot about all things UK…and writing…so all 3 of the awesome writers I’m passing the baton to are from 'ere in’t UK. Their posts will be up on their blogs on 6th April, so be sure to check them out!

Clare Davidson is a character driven fantasy writer, teacher and mother, from the UK. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband. They now share their lives with their young daughter, a cranky grey cat, called Ash and an insane white cat, called Pirate. 

Check out Clare's blog here: http://www.claredavidson.com/blog/ and twitter: @claremdavidson

Simon P. Clark is a British children's author currently living in New Jersey, USA, pretending to be a grown up. He used to live in Japan, has a GCSE in pottery, and does a pretty convincing Gollum impression. His debut novel, Eren, will be published by Constable & Robinson in the UK in September 2014. Simon blogs about writing and his path to publication at www.simonpclark.com. He's usually wasting time on Twitter as @sipclark.

Chynna-Blue Scott, commonly known as Blue, primarily writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, although she's considering dipping her toe into the Horror genre. Currently, Blue is seeking representation for her YA UF/PNR novel, STRICKEN. She has an unholy obsession with Fall Out Boy, lives for Dexter and Supernatural, and will happily murder anyone who refers to her as 'British'. She's the kind of person you love... once you get to know her.

Visit Blue's blog here: http://chynnablueink.com/ or tweet her @chynnablueink