Friday, 31 January 2014

How I keep in touch with my teen self - guest post by Clare Davidson

Hello! I'm so thrilled to be hosting author Clare Davidson on the release day of her latest novel, BROKEN BARGAIN, and giving you a chance to win some awesome goodies through the rafflecopter at the end of this post. 

Having known Clare online for quite a while, I know she gives excellent guest post, so I asked her to write about how she keeps in touch with her teen self, and how that impacts on her writing. Here's what she had to say...

Wow, okay, this topic is tougher than I thought.

When Kat first suggested this title for a guest post, my initial reaction was, “ace, I can cheat and say ‘I never grew up’ and include a cool quote from Neil Gaiman.” 

I’m sure you’ll agree that would have been a short and lame guest post. It took me around thirty seconds to come to the same conclusion.

So I had to sit down and think about it. I mean, really think about it. How do I keep in touch with my teen self?

The truth is I’m not sure I do.

I didn’t really enjoy the majority of my teen years. I was bullied at school and almost changed high schools during my exams. I would have done, if I hadn’t decided to put my future ahead of a bunch of bullies. Exams were hard, first G.C.S.E.s and then A’Levels.

University was supposed to be a fresh start, but I spend my first year horribly home sick. Looking back retroactively, my biggest impression is that I was easily overwhelmed, overly emotional and desperate to conform to what other people wanted me to be. Yes, even those bullies. I even tried to be friends with some of them in high school. More fool me.

I was actually pretty happy to stop being a teenager and to start acting like an adult.

However I DO keep in touch with teen trends.

First of all I read (and enjoy) teen fiction. I actually prefer a good teen read to a novel aimed at an adult audience most of the time. I also watch movies and TV shows aimed at teens. Again, I enjoy them and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I’d listen to my pupils when they told me the hobbies they enjoyed, their aspirations and what they found hard about being a teen.

One of the reasons why teaching is so rewarding is because you get to watch your pupils grow and mature from children into young adults. It’s a progression that I aim to show in my novels, because it isn’t always easy, but the end result is pretty much always amazing.

As a closing note, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I disagree with Neil Gaiman. Growing up ISN’T overrated. Sure it’s hard, but being a child and then a teen is just the start.

Thanks for hosting me on release day, Kat.

Thank you, Clare, for the great guest post! 

You can connect with Clare via her website, on twitter, on facebook or goodreads. You can also sign up to her new releases mailing list. Don't forget to enter the rafflecopter giveaway below...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Latest news, interviews and a mug

So, today I am over on Marci Curtis's blog, talking about mah book and travelling circuses and things my boss definitely shouldn't read... You can read that here, and make sure you follow Marci because she's full of awesome and will be interviewing a ton more authors over the coming months! There's also a Blackfin Sky swag giveaway, and I'll be choosing a random commenter to send it to in 2 days - get your comments in there, folks.

Also today a beautiful piece of Blackfin goodness arrived in the mail...

Oh...a black mug?
Wait - it's in stealth mode!!
"All will be revealed ~ May 2014" Yes. Yes it will.
That's right - it's a heat-reveal Blackfin Sky mug! And I have 2 of these bad boys that I'll be giving away over the coming months... more details will follow. Oh yes.

AAAAAAND, in case you didn't see this over at Twitterville, I wrote a guest post for my agency bro and author of the 2014 MG debut EREN, Simon Clark. Checkity here

Kat out x

Monday, 27 January 2014

One Book, Two Book, My Book ... New Book? Guest post by Simon P Clark

Hello! I have a special guest on my blog today, the always-charming and soon-to-be-published author, Simon P Clark. Simon is my agency sibling and fellow member of We Are One Four, and his debut MG novel, Eren, is due to be published this September by Constable & Robinson, with a second book to follow. 

I asked Simon what it's like to be staring down the barrel of book 2. Here's what he said...

The first time you sell a book is a special moment. It's a dream come true, really – something you always wanted but never expected. The world looks brighter when you hear the news. Twitter tends to be a giddy place and family are politely congratulatory, if somewhat puzzled. I remember when I sold my first book, of course. I blogged. I Tweeted (I Twit?). I was a happy author. When my agent told me the news, the fact that Eren - my Eren - was going to be a book was the only thing I could think about for a long, long time. Being told the news, incidentally, went something like this:

Agent: I have News
Me: Is it Bad Things? I hate Bad Things
Agent: No. It's good. We have an offer!
Me: Yay!
Agent: Yay!
Me: They want my book?
Agent: Actually, they want two. It's a two-book deal.
Me: They want my book!
Agent: Yes, and another book.
Me: I don't have another book but really I'm sure it will be fine OK BYE.

Good times, indeed. And in the months that followed I rewrote Eren to my editor's suggestions, and had phone calls, and now there's even some artwork coming out, and talk of publication dates. It's a special magic, seeing words I thought up become an actual book. The final proofs will be in my hands in no time. Eren will be published. 

But there's been this nagging thought at the back of my head for some time now. There's meant to be a second book. You sold them a second book and took the advance and spent it on cake. They're going to want it. You have a deadline.

Having trouble writing a second novel is nothing new, and a quick Google search will show plenty of sage and timely advice about how to beat whatever block you're facing. For me, the strangeness came from having a contract and a timeframe for this book before Eren itself was even done. In my mind, it's become The Phantom Book. It exists, in a technical and legal sense. Just not in an I've Actually Written It sense.

I'm so, so thankful that my publisher believed in me enough to buy a second book before the first had ever come out. That in itself inspires me when I'm feeling like things are too crazy. The book's coming along nicely, now, after a few false starts. I could probably have got things done earlier, but I'm proud of what I've written so far, so that's something.

The biggest worry for me is that I'll let people down. The expectation that I can write a second good book is in itself a compliment, and it's one I desperately want to honour. What if I submit this second book and the publisher just hates it? What if I really am a one trick pony? What if Eren was a fluke and their investment proves my undoing? 

A chap could really destroy his career before it even started.

If things ever get a bit confusing, I just have to remind myself what an incredible life it is to be able to tell stories and makes books. My editor and my agent have been nothing but supportive and I know I can turn to them with difficult plot points or questions. 

At the end of the day, the way I hold up my end of the bargain is simple: I write. I write the book because that's my job, isn't it? If I'm tired, I write. If I'm busy, I write. If I'm grumpy, I write and kill the characters horribly. I can always delete that bit later. 

Having a second book to write has given me a great focus after the sudden shock of Eren being finished. Having a contract has given me the structure and the kick to get off my backside and get the words down. That can only be a good thing. 

You can connect with Simon on twitter, facebook and his blog. You can also add Eren to your Goodreads list.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

A public appearance, you say? Yes!

Hi guys!

So it seems I have more beans to spill already, as the details are now out there in the webosphere... I will be on a YA panel with amazing authors Hayley Long and Lucy Christopher in just 6 weeks' time! This is part of the XX Women's Writing Festival in March - details are here.

Let me know here or on twitter if you're planning on being there, and please come over and say hi!

Kat out x

Thursday, 23 January 2014

My US release date and a few other things...

I am so, so thrilled to be able to let y'all know that BLACKFIN SKY now has a US publication date. It will be coming atcha 2nd September this year!

Also, my good pal Bridget let me know that folks in the US can now preorder my book from Amazon USA. The final cover isn't out there in the world yet, but I can say that I have seen the drafts and it looks fantastic. I don't say this lightly, either, since my UK cover is just beautiful (thank you, Shane Rebenschied!)

I'm one lucky bugger to get 2 amazing covers for my book.

There are a few other irons in the metaphorical fire at the moment, so here's a rundown:

  • I'm getting together awesome Blackfin Sky SWAG to give away during guest blog posts and interviews and such. The UK version comes out first (14th May!) and I have a few blogs lined up already, so please give me a shout here or on twitter if you'd be interested in having me stop by your blog and give away some Blackfin goodies. Here's a photo of one of my cool circusy bookmarks - fancy, no??

  • Right now I'm mentoring in the Sun vs Snow contest (Go Team Snow!) and offering some query/sample suggestions to the contestants. Go check out the amazing entries!
  • Cupid's Blind Speed Dating Contest judges have just been announced, and - you guessed it - I'm in the line-up. I was lucky enough to catch the eye of the Amazing Molly during this contest in 2012, so I'm hoping to pass on my good fortune like a kind of author-genie. What? That's totally a thing.
  • I'm also taking part in Clare M Davidson's pre-release tour for BROKEN BARGAIN. Clickety for details. 

There's more going on, but they're all the beans I can spill right now! 

Kat out x

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Release Day Interview with WHERE YOU'LL FIND ME Author Erin Fletcher!

That's right - WHERE YOU'LL FIND ME by the wonderful and crazy-talented Erin Fletcher is now out in the world! 

When Hanley Helton discovers a boy living in her garage, she knows she should kick him out. But Nate is too charming to be dangerous. He just needs a place to get away, which Hanley understands. Her own escape methods—vodka, black hair dye, and pretending the past didn't happen—are more traditional, but who is she to judge?
Nate doesn't tell her why he's in her garage, and she doesn't tell him what she's running from. Soon, Hanley¹s trading her late-night escapades for all-night conversations and stolen kisses. But when Nate's recognized as the missing teen from the news, Hanley isn't sure which is worse: that she's harboring a fugitive, or that she's in love with one.

And because I'm lucky enough to know Erin (ever since I saw her then-manuscript in a contest and twitter-stalked her into letting me read it waaay back in 2012), I asked her some questions...

1. Hanley discovers Nate hiding out in her garage one night when she sneezes and he says "Bless you." How would you react in that situation? How similar are you and Hanley?

My reaction would include screaming, running away, and/or calling 911. In other words, the exact opposite of Hanley's reaction! Hanley and I are not very similar at all, which made writing her character a lot of fun! However, I'm much more like Hanley's sister, Heather.

2. What's the thing you love most about Nate? Same question, but about Hanley?

The thing I love most about Nate is probably how perceptive he is. How he gets to know Hanley maybe even better than she knows herself. As for Hanley, I love her snark. It's another thing that made her character really fun to write.

3. Has the finished story changed much from what you first imagined it would be?

The ending changed a couple of different times. Nate and Hanley's secrets stayed the same, but the order of events and some of the final events themselves changed. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and hope readers will be, too!

4. What's next on your writing list? 

More contemporary YA! I recently wrote a novel about a figure skater who suffers from anxiety, and I have another contemp YA in the works!

5. Got any secrets about Hanley or Nate that NOBODY else knows? Could you maybe share one...?

Yes! No one else knows the reason Hanley is 16 years old, but doesn't have her driver's license. Truth is, she managed to scrape by in driver's ed and get her learner's permit. But while driving with her parents, she ran over a construction barrel. When she put the car in reverse, she hit a tree. She made it home after that, but was too close to the garage wall, and knocked the car's side mirror right off. It might be a while before she's allowed behind the wheel again...

Did I mention you can buy WHERE YOU'LL FIND ME right now?? You can! 

About Erin...

Erin Fletcher is a morning person who does most of her writing before sunrise while drinking excessive quantities of coffee, believes flip-flops qualify as year-round footwear, and would spend every day at the beach if she could. She has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics (which is almost never useful when writing books) and lives in North Carolina.

You can visit Erin on her website and on Twitter.