I wandered downstairs from my office today, brewing a cold and searching for distraction from work, and found these in my door -- CASTING LILY has arrived!
I gotta say, that thrill of finally seeing a book bound and in the flesh never gets old. And neither does the relief of seeing a positive first review -- phew! You can see what CM Magazine has to say about Lily here.
Meanwhile, I am impatiently waiting for a new book to write. I have a couple of ideas that have been bumbling around in my brain for awhile, but nothing has gelled. It's a fidgety, frustrating feeling!
It's been a busy month, kicked off with a visit to two schools during their fabulous Readers' Retreat event. What's that, you ask? Well, the gist of it is that participating students spend most of the day hanging out together in the library, reading. There's more to it—the librarian may invite a guest author (like moi) to speak, or schedule some other activity—but basically it's a day of free reading. How great is that??
So thanks very much to the students of East Northumberland District High School and Campbellford District High School (and their teacher-librarians!) for taking time out of their busy reading schedule to listen to me yammer on, for their interesting and intelligent questions and comments, and for sharing some of their favourite authors with me. So many books, so little time...
Hard on the heels of the Readers' Retreats was my book launch, which was turned out to be a lovely party disguised as a book reading. I did read, of course, and sell books until my signature...
"An absorbing narrative that tempers its dark subject matter with humour . . . A definite crowd-pleaser for fairy-tale enthusiasts and fantasy lovers." Thank-you, Kirkus Reviews!
It's always nerve-wracking, waiting for the reviews to come out, so how lovely to find this one waiting for me this morning, before the book even hits the shelves. It tickles me that the reviewer singled out the voice of Klara (the match girl herself), saying "it gives nuance and agency to a character known for suffering in silence."
It will take longer to see if readers agree with this reviewer... much longer. Writing books is a game of patience!
See? It's a real book! Somehow there's something not-quite-real seeming about a novel that's working it's way through the publishing process — I mean, months can go by when it's just off in limbo somewhere. But once there's an actual cover, and it's in the catalogue — then it feels real.
So here it is, my spooky new story, due to be released (sooner than I thought!) January 17, 2017!
What's it about, you ask? I'll let the catalogue copy fill you in:
Fairy tales can come true. And not in a good way.
One minute Jack’s in math class. The next, he’s on a dark, cobble-stoned, empty street. Empty,that is, except for a skinny girl wrapped in a threadbare shawl. “Matches, mister?” she asks, and just like that, Jack’s life collides with one of Hans Christian Andersen’s grimmest tales. And as soon as he has almost convinced himself it was merely a weird dream, it happens again.
Suddenly, Jack’s ideas about what is “real” or “possible” no longer apply. While he and his new girlfriend, L...
So here it is at last — my new photo to appear on my book jackets (and whatever else I need it for). I have a couple of more casual long shots coming too, which will be useful for things like this website!
I wish I hadn't waggled my head so much, but overall am pretty happy with this shot. I feel like it actually looks like me, on a good day, and that I don't look as terrified or manic as in most formal photos.(You wouldn't believe the number of otherwise perfectly nice shots I weeded out because I was smiling so hard I looked like I was trying to crack my own face.)
Big thanks to Jordan at Jordan Lyall photography for her great work.
So, what have I been doing all these weeks? In terms of fiction writing, that is, not everyday life. I've been lurking in theatres, that's what. Doing research—serious, hard-core research.
Here's the thought process that led me there:
1) Orca, my publisher, has a series (Limelights) on the performing arts. What a great idea. I should write one!
2) I have a pretty good idea about a kid who gets a role in an outdoor summer theatre production. (Pretty good, because we have a local outdoor summer theatre in this neck of the woods and I happen to know a couple of kids who spent some summers there.)
3) I pitch the idea. Orca says yes, and gives me a deadline. Gulp.
4) I have coffee with one of these kids (no longer a kid, but anyway) and we have a nice talk about her memories of what it was like.
5) I start writing, and soon realize that while I know quite a few people who are active in quite a lot of theatre, I actually have no idea how a play gets put together. What's the process? What hap...
I had a photo shoot for a new headshot today, which I need for my two new books (!!) and also for the magazine I edit (the shot I'm using now is embarrassingly old). There was just one problem. Two problems.
One, I'm photo-phobic, which means I tend to look like a crazed, panic-stricken goose trying to smile my way off the chopping block.
Two, I suck at personal grooming. Oh, for the glory days when my company provided hair and makeup styling! This morning, as I blasted my hair with the blow-dryer, I cursed my hippie teenagerhood and wondered (not for the first time) why, oh why, did I never learn to apply eyeliner properly?
On the plus side, my photographer Jordan (JordanLyallphotography.com) and her little daughter Nora made it all easy and low stress. Fun, even. There's nothing like playing tag between takes to loosen you up! So I'm actually looking forward to seeing the contacts, hopeful we'll be able to find a shot or two I'm happy with. Fingers crossed.
So a book I've been thinking of for three years as The Match Girl (though always as a working title only) has finally been renamed, thanks to the inspiration of a good friend. She says she gets her good ideas in the shower, and this time the shower gave her an idea for me. Which is really lucky, because I had, by then, a long list of terrible title ideas and was starting to despair.
It's still a long way to publication, but we're down to the copyedit stage so my work on this book is almost done.
Watch for Drawn Away in spring 2016. I'll put a short excerpt in this blog in about six months to pique your interest, and a cover pic as soon as it's finalized.
Poor Jack. It’s hard to make friends at a new school, keep your marks up and deal with a creepy ghost girl at the same time!
My next novel weaves together an old fairy tale, The Little Match Girl, and a Grade 12 kid named Jack. Like Redwing, my new book is a kind of ghost story. But unlike all my other books, it’s a contemporary story set (mostly) in a world pretty much like yours.
This one has been a long time coming, and we are still searching for a good title (did I mention titles are HARD?) – but I've just sent the 2nd set of revisions back to my editor so we are well on the way.
It's still a long wait -- estimated publishing date is Spring 2017. I'll drop some tantalizing details (haha) between now and then.
Meanwhile, I have another book to write in time for a 2017 publication date! This is something completely different for me -- a title for Orca's LIMELIGHTS series on the performing arts, and believe it or not the first time I've had to write a novel on a deadline. Giddy-...