Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Winter wrap-up! Books, writing & adventures...

Happy December!

To those who took part in NaNoWriMo last month: Congratulations! You survived! And whether you hit the 50k word target or not, you wrote at least part of a novel. In case you're curious, I wrote 18k words of a new book, and I am so, so pleased to now have that under my belt seeing as I'm due to start edits on Harrow Lake very soon (which is now on Goodreads btw, so please go and add it to your to-read shelf). I'm pretty excited to dive back into that dark little book, too.

I've been trying out a new writing tool/method while taking part in NaNo - a nifty index card system I learned about from author Susan Dennard in her recent newsletter. It has really been helping me to map out the plot, break it down into bite-sized chunks, and focus on one scene at a time without feeling like my brain is getting tangled trying to keep all the plot threads straight. Here's a link to Susan Dennard's video about it.

Aside from writing, I've had a few authorly adventures lately. First, I visited Dyserth Waterfall, which is partly responsible for inspiring the book I'm currently working on (imaginatively titled 'The Waterfall Book' for now).

This past weekend, my husband and I journeyed down to South Wales for a couple of events with wonderful Three Strikes co-author Lucy Christopher and editor Penny Thomas, who is the publisher at Firefly Press. The Cardiff event was chaired by Karen Bultiauw (organiser of YA Lit Cardiff events) at Cardiff Central Library - here are some pics taken by photographer Phillip Fayers.

L-R: Penny Thomas, me, Lucy Christopher, Karen Bultiauw (Chair)

L-R: Penny Thomas, me, Lucy Christopher

Me & Lucy signing copies of Three Strikes

The following day we moved on to Swansea Waterstones where Zoe James-Williams, artist and children's books reviewer for the South Wales Evening News, chaired a panel with Lucy and me. (This pic was nicked from Lucy's Instagram.)

I had so much fun at both events! If you missed them but would like to win a copy of Three Strikes signed by me and Lucy, YA Lit Cardiff are holding a giveaway on Twitter, so go and enter by 16th December. 

Firefly Press are also offering any of their books (including Three Strikes, Blackfin Sky, and Purge by me!) signed and dedicated if you order direct from them - details here. Books make brilliant Christmas presents, you know ;-)

In non-writing adventures, I recently visited Chester with my sister Alex and took a look around its beautiful cathedral. 

Reading-wise, I read 2 books I absolutely loved in November. They were:

Wax by Gina Damico is a brilliant horror-comedy about a girl named Poppy who uncovers a sinister conspiracy where lifelike wax figures are taking over the small town of Paraffin.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is a thriller which follows 16-year-old Monica's investigation into what really happened the year 5 cheerleaders from the town of Sunnybrook died, including Monica's older sister.

I hope to reach my Goodreads goal of 50 books read in 2018, though that will mean reading 7 in the month of December, so it might be a stretch!

I'll leave you with this snapshot of how I'm starting December.

Reading The Lantern's Ember by Colleen Houck and The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Audiobooking When We Collided by Emery Lord

Singing along to Here I Am by Dolly Parton and Sia (from the Dumplin' soundtrack - I'm also thoroughly excited to watch this when it comes out on Netflix this month!) and You Should See Me in a Crown by Billie Eilish (which has the perfect vibe for my new book, btw.)

Watching A Discovery of Witches and Rick & Morty (what?)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all who celebrate at this time of year! I'll be back in early 2019 with new posts and updates on what's going on in my writing life.

For 2018...

Kat out x 

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Halloween wrap-up!

Helloooooo, and happy Halloweeeeeeeen! *waggles fingers in spooky fashion* As promised several weeks ago (eek!) it's time to wrap up what went on in September and October. Let's start with a bang, eh? 

I was over the moon to announce the deal for my next book, Harrow Lake, which will be hitting shelves in Summer 2020 (Penguin Random House Children's/Kathy Dawson Books). 

The wheeling and dealing which preceded that announcement was all going on while I was in Orlando, which was literally the most exciting trip in history (I mean, book deal emails pinging my phone while I was being chased through Universal Studios by evil clowns -- does it even get more surreal than that??)

This meant that I got to celebrate secretly before coming home, and celebrate again when the announcement came out, and then celebrate again when Three Strikes was published, and then celebrate again with Lucy Christopher, Rhian Ivory, Chelley Toy, Lauren James, and a room full of wonderful readers at the Birmingham launch last week. In other words, I got through some prosecco this month.

If you missed Birmingham but were hoping to catch a spooky Three Strikes chat with me, there will be at least 2 more chances - at Cardiff Library on 1st December, and at Swansea Waterstones on 2nd December. There are links on my 'Interviews & appearances' page if you want to get tickets for either of those. I'll also add any more events to that page as they are confirmed.

Now I'm working on what I hope will be the book after Harrow Lake, and I've been researching and making notes and starting to scratch out the bare bones of what I'm referring to as the waterfall book -- all in time to get really stuck in during November. I will be semi-NaNoWriMo-ing, if you want to join me; at least until/unless I have to switch to working on edits for Harrow Lake. I'm looking forward to both, so it should be a great month either way.

Speaking of November, it's my birthday next month, and so I think that calls for a giveaway! I have a few spare copies of some of my books, so I'll see what sort of book-and-swag prizes I can get together, and I'll put the details up here and on my Insta and Twitter. Watch this space around 11th November if you want to be in with a chance of winning :-)

Reading-wise, I haven't exactly been storming through my TBR lately, but I have read these since the last update:

Yes, Three Strikes counts, because I only wrote 1/3 of it. Of the other books I read, Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson was definitely my favourite, and one I highly recommend if you're after something spooky and funny this Halloween.

I'll leave you with a snapshot of how I'm starting November. 

Reading: A BLADE SO BLACK by L.L. McKinney

Audiobooking: THE CHEERLEADERS by Kara Thomas

Singing along to: JEALOUS SEA by Meg Myers, BLUR b and SCREWS by Dreamers (this one was playing constantly in Florida while I was there, so it has all good feels attached to it)

Watching: Riverdale (I blazed through Sabrina and Hill House, which were both fabulous)

For now...

Kat out x

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

THREE STRIKES and a new book deal!

Hello! It's been an amazing few weeks, which I'll write about here soon, but I wanted to let you know about 2 of the most amazing things that happened recently:

THREE STRIKES is now out in the world! This collection of novellas features The Twins of Blackfin by me, The Darkness by Lucy Christopher, and Matchgirl by Rhian Ivory, and it is the perfect chilling pre-Halloween read (even if I do say so myself...)

If this sounds like your kind of thing, you can order a copy from Firefly Press with free P&P, or from any other good bookseller, or order it from your local library.

You can also come and see us talking about the book in Waterstones Birmingham on 24 October - the event is free, you just need to book a ticket. You can also watch a video of me talking about The Twins of Blackfin riiiiight here.

Also -- ALSO -- my new book deal was announced! Harrow Lake, my dark psychological thriller/horror novel, will be published by Penguin Random House Children's in 2020! Puffin UK acquired the UK/Commonwealth/translation rights, and Kathy Dawson Books bought North American Rights, and I couldn't be more thrilled! Check out the announcement in The Bookseller, and I'll post updates here when I have them. The way this all went down was pretty incredible, and I'll tell the whole story in my full wrap-up later this month.

For now...

Kat out x

Friday, 31 August 2018

Summer Wrap-up!

Hear that tiny, melancholy violin? That's me, lamenting the end of summer. After growing up as a Dire Hayfever Sufferer (picture a girl with frizzy hair, red eyes, redder nostrils, staring angrily through her bedroom window -- yeah, you get it) being an adult who does NOT suffer with hayfever anymore makes me want to frolic in the sun. FROLIC. Hence my melancholy at the passing of summer... but it has been a belter. Here's what happened.

Writing-wise, I spent a good portion of the last 3 months editing 2 manuscripts -- THE TWINS OF BLACKFIN, which is my novella for the THREE STRIKES anthology (out 11 October, preordering is for winners, thank you thank you), and HARROW LAKE, a novel I seem to have been working on for decades now.

I also started 2 new manuscripts (though one was actually a reworking of an old one) which were both kind of magical, fun, Welsh-legendy stories, and which got a bit overshadowed by the editing. But now that I'm pretty much done with the edits (I think? Because there could always be more. ALWAYS.) I can get back to drafting.... and so naturally, I have a completely different story idea that's calling to me, and I can't decide what to do. So, here we are.

There have been some pretty epic adventures since my last update -- into caves, up mountains, through forests; finding ruins, exploring castles, and even going out on a boat to eyeball some seals. It's all over on my Insta if you want to check out my adventures, or you can just wait to see these things gradually appear in future books. ;) In any case, I'll just put a couple of my fave pics here for you to see...

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And of course I went back to the circus, as I do every summer, and sat there fizzing with Blackfin-ish excitement. Doubly so this time, because I'm looking forward to a new instalment in the Blackfin story coming out in just a few weeks! Excited, me? YOU BET YOUR WHOLE ASS.

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Summer also saw the advent of YALC, which I attended, and it was a blast. Not only did I spot Jason Momoa, but I also got to sign copies of my books at the Firefly Press stand. And I bought lots of books. And there were samplers of THREE STRIKES flying off the stand like owls from a certain school for wizards. But mostly Momoa.

Reading-wise, I didn't get through as many books as I planned, and have adjusted my Goodreads goal so it doesn't feel like it's on my case all the time: "YOU'RE 4 BOOKS BEHIND YOUR GOAL, LOSER" etc. This is what I read over the past 3 months:

I usually do a rundown of each book, but as this is a 3-month update I'll just highlight my standout faves from each category.

Young Adult: THE SUMMER OF US is Cecilia Vinesse's sophomore novel, and a gorgeous story about 5 friends who go interrailing across Europe, growing apart and falling in love in the process; and the hilarious BOY MEETS HAMSTER by Birdie Milano is about a boy who goes on holiday with his family and best friend to a Butlins-esque caravan park where his crush on the boy-next-caravan is constantly being scuppered by someone in a giant hamster suit.

Graphic novel: MILK FOR THE UGLY (motion book) by Kate Redesiuk and Anna Podeworna was a real surprise find for me. I downloaded an app called Madefire where you can read motion books (a new thing for me) and this was a freebie I downloaded because the cover art was cool. Well, the story is awesome -- about a social worker who calls to check on an elderly woman and finds her living with a collection of 'uglies', which she guards so they won't get out and infect the world. It was really disturbing and brilliant at the same time, with fantastic artwork and a great soundtrack that definitely added to the experience.

Adult: SILVER SILENCE by Nalini Singh. I've been a huge Nalini Singh fan for years -- I think this is about the 30th of her books that I've read -- so knew I would love this one. Silver Silence is the beginning of a new story arc in the Psy-Changeling series. I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to the bear-shifters, and getting to know more about the Mercants and the various threats dawning in the Psy-Changeling world. Can't wait to get my hands on OCEAN LIGHT and see what the water changelings are up to...

Looking ahead, I'm hoping the autumn will bring lots of new words and adventures, and I will resume my usual monthly updates from now on. I'll also get back to baking now that GBBO is on and the heatwave is off. In the meantime, this is how I will be starting September.

ReadingIN ANOTHER LIFE by Laura Jarratt

AudiobookingSAINTS AND MISFITS by S. K. Ali

Singing along toBABY by Bishop Briggs

Watching: GBBO, X Factor, and Riverdale -- #Bugheadforever. WHAT?

For now...

Kat out x

Friday, 20 July 2018

THREE STRIKES has a cover!


Stopping by briefly to say that the cover for THREE STRIKES - the anthology of novellas featuring stories by my, Lucy Christopher, and Rhian Ivory - has now officially been unleashed, and here it is!

Isn't it pretty? I'm so excited to see the finished print version, which should be sometime before its release on 11 October. If you'd like to preorder a copy (please, please do!) you can order it direct from Firefly Press, from Amazon UK, or from any good book retailer.

If you'd like a little teaser for THE TWINS OF BLACKFIN...

Visiting her best friend's grave at midnight, Bo sees the young people of Blackfin walking the streets in a trance, as though they're looking for something. An eerie voice calls to them, but who does it belong to? Where is the mysterious door it wants them to find? And can Bo avoid falling under the voice's spell herself?

On a completely different note, if you're wondering where the heck my June wrap-up post was, I decided to take a small summer break from the blog (this post notwithstanding), so prepare for a mammoth update in early August when I'll be giving the lowdown on things like YALC, advance copies of THREE STRIKES, what I've been writing and reading all summer, and various adventures involving castles and spooky islands and cemeteries and such. You know what to expect by now, right??

Anyway, back to my WIP, where I'm currently working out the logistics of being cursed to always tell the truth. Fun times.

Kat out x

Sunday, 3 June 2018

May Wrap-up!

In May I celebrated 4 whole years as a published author, as BLACKFIN SKY was published on the 14th May 2014 (I say 'celebrated', but I actually only just realised it this second). And soon there will be another instalment in the story of Blackfin - THE TWINS OF BLACKFIN which will be out in just a few short months as part of the THREE STRIKES anthology, wheeeeeee!

On that theme, I've been told there will be a draft cover for THREE STRIKES coming soon, which is very exciting. It's like seeing an e-fit of your imaginary child's face, or something less ghoulish. Anyway, if I'll be seeing it soon, then it will no doubt be out there in the world not long after that. Expect a special blog post when that happens.

Writing-wise, I've been working on 2 projects for the past month: the new witchy novel, and an old MS I'm sort of dusting off to see whether it might have legs. I've also been putting in some research because the witchy book has an historical thread to it, and although I'm screwing with history a little bit (and why not?) I want to at least get the key historical markers in the right positions before I drop-kick them out of the park. I think I just mixed some metaphors there. Go with it, it'll be fine.

As part of my research, I got to go on a few adventures. First I went to Harlech Castle, because I'm all about the castles.

And I went back to Llanddwyn Island on Anglesey, because it's stunning. Also book-relevant.

View from the ruin of Dwynwen's chapel on Ynys Llanddwyn

And I visited a 5000-year-old burial mound, as you do. Also book-relevant.

Quite a mound.

Another fun thing that happened this month: I bought a book-inspired necklace from Literary Galaxy which has just launched. This one was inspired by The Cruel Prince which I have yet to read, but I just loved the necklace.

Speaking of books I haven't read... I had quite a meagre reading month in May. I only read 3 books.  These are they:

EVERLESS by Sara Holland is a YA fantasy series-opener about Jules, a poor teen girl who lives in Sempera -- a land where a person's lifetime can be used as currency. To try and get herself and her father out of debt, Jules takes a job working in Everless, home to an aristocratic family who chased Jules and her father out of town when Jules witnessed a crime as a little girl. Lots of secrets, lies, and political intrigue made this my favourite read of the month.

DAMSELFLY by Chandra Prasad is a Lord-of-the-Flies-esque thriller about a group of private school teens whose jet crash lands on a desert island. It's a survival story, though the main threat doesn't come from predatory animals or starvation, but rather from one particularly nasty member of the group and an unknown stranger they call 'The Enemy'. There were lots of cool elements to the story, but it kind of goes from zero to WTF without much explanation. Bonus points for the creepiness of having the dead pilot's glass eye watching over the group the whole time, though.

(DON'T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME by Kate Karyus Quinn starts out weird, and gets weirder and weirder as it goes along. Gardnerville is a place where nobody dies or gets sick, but that comes with a price: every four years, some murderous urge takes hold of the Gardnerville teens. That was what happened to Skylar's sister Piper four years ago: she led a bunch of people down to the railway bridge and made them jump off. She's been locked up in the reformatory ever since. Skylar has spent the intervening years living in a pill-induced haze, but now it's time to face her own fourth year, and face her sister again. I liked this one a lot initially, but the narrative skipping back and forth through time lost me, and I ended up taking a long while to finish it. Top marks for weirdness, though.

And that's it for my May reads! I'll leave you with a snapshot of how I'm starting June:

Reading: OUTCAST by Robert Kirkman

Audiobooking: THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill

Singing along to: NUMB by Meg Myers and KILL V. MAIM by Grimes

For now...

Kat out x

P.S. Some of you might be receiving this blog post by email if you subscribed to my blog in the past. If you'd rather not get these emails in future, please click on the linky thing to unsubscribe. I don't even know how to access the list of subscriber emails on Blogger, so you won't be getting any emails from me except these blog posts, should you so desire. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

April Wrap-up!

Spring is here! FINALLY. Time to shuck the author fleeces in favour of author T-shirts that should probably have been binned several stains ago.

As if by magic (or the magic of being released from the SADs) I am now deep into my new writing project, which is a story about a magical, witchy island and the folks who have been banished there. Unusually for me, I'm setting parts of the story in real places in Wales, which means I'm sneaking out and poking around ruins etc. in the name of research, not just my usual morbid curiosity. The novel also has a historical (or alt-history, technically) strand to the narrative, and so I'm making good use of my local libraries to do proper bookish research, because lawd knows History was not my best subject at school. I dropped it at 14, so that probably tells you all you need to know.

But while I'm out gathering facts and ideas and making notes, I'm using this fabulous notebook which was a gift from Dawn Kurtagich (horror author extraordinaire). It feels like a Special Notebook, so I'm going to make sure I use it to write a Special Book.

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Reading-wise, I slowed down a bit in April, but still managed to fit in 5 reads. These were they:

Let's start with the 3 YAs.

THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF OKAY by Laura Steven was a hilarious and brilliant feminist novel about Izzy O'Neill, a girl who is videoed having sex with a senator's son on a garden bench and becomes the focus of slut-shaming vitriol after it gets posted online and goes viral. Izzy herself is a delight -- funny, fierce, sex-positive, independent, and completely fallible, vulnerable, and human at the same time. I'm really looking forward to the sequel.

ALLEGEDLY by Tiffany D. Jackson is about 16-year-old Mary who is living in a group home after being released from 'baby jail', where she was sent for killing a baby (allegedly) when she herself was only 9 years old. But did Mary do it? I listened to the audiobook of this, read by Bahni Turpin, and it was twisted, gripping, and brilliantly performed. Jackson has a new book coming out soon called MONDAY'S NOT COMING, and I can't wait to get hold of that.

SOME QUIET PLACE by Kelsey Sutton (a recommendation and birthday gift from my critique partner & pal Jani Grey - thank you!) is a paranormal about a girl who can't feel emotions -- instead she sees them embodied all around her, particularly the enigmatic Fear, who is intent on solving the mystery around how Elizabeth ended up this way. This book is beautifully written, with that classic YA paranormal feel about it.

Per my reading goal for 2018, I also read an adult book and a graphic novel in April.

WYTCHES by Scott Snyder is about the Rooks family who move to a new town following a terrible trauma, but soon find themselves facing even more darkness as something evil lurks in the forest just beyond their property... The story in this was fantastic, with brilliant illustrations throughout that totally sucked me in. I'll be continuing this series for sure.

Finally, I listened to THE SILENT COMPANIONS by Laura Purcell on audio, which was a creepy, atmospheric treat. Newly widowed and pregnant, Elsie moves to the dilapidated estate of her late husband and finds herself facing local superstitions, fear, and a history of unexplained deaths on the property. Interspersed with Elsie's Victorian narrative are diary entries from one of the previous owners of the house, dating back to 1635. Tying the 2 together are the peculiar wooden figures -- the silent companions -- the first of which Elsie finds in a locked attic, and which looks a lot like Elsie herself...

And that wraps up my April reading! Aside from that and working on my new manuscript, I managed to go on a couple of adventures last month. It started with a trip to Penrhyn Castle...

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...continued with a visit to a lake that lies beyond a secret door...

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...and ended with a torch-lit walk through an abandoned bunker. The stuff of horror movies, I'm telling you.

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I also had a baking first -- I made bread! -- and it was pretty decent. I post my baking adventures on Instragram (step-by-step in my Insta story) every weekend if you want to follow along.

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I'll leave you with a snapshot of how I'm starting May:

Reading: (DON'T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME by Kate Karyus Quinn

Audiobooking: EVERLESS by Sara Holland

Singing along to: FERAL LOVE by Chelsea Wolfe and VENUS FLY by Grimes ft. Janelle Monae (both perfect accompaniment to my new WIP, in case you want to see what the vibe is...)

For now...

Kat out x