30th Aug, 2016

Winners & Reviews

Congratulations to Alyssa and Sarah who are the winners of the ARC of Speed of Life! Thanks to everyone who entered.

I’m excited to share a couple of very nice reviews for Speed of Life. There’s one more good one I’ve gotten a sneak peek at, but won’t be out until next month, and hopefully a few more from the trades are imminent. In the meantime…

Kirkus says (read the whole thing here):

Crystal’s narration is emotionally gripping as she deals not only with deviating from the twins’ plan behind Amber’s back, but the possibility of achieving her goals without Amber and even Natalie in her life. Her road takes still more twists and turns when she must also confront the truth of Natalie’s conception. Crystal’s struggles with independence and identity are realistic and palpable.

Feminist readers in particular will appreciate this strong young woman who doesn’t conform to gender norms.

And from Publisher’s Weekly (read the whole thing here):

Told from Crystal’s perspective, this contemporary novel from Kelly (the author of Restoring Harmony and other books as Joëlle Anthony) is rife with internal and external conflicts as it traces a sister’s reckoning with secrets and the bonds of family. While highlighting the difficulties of being a teenage parent, Kelly shows how hard work, determination, and honesty can help make dreams come true.

Thanks for dropping by the site! And for those of you who have had a chance to read SoL, reviews on Goodreads are always helpful to the author.

 

 

Speed Of Life ARCsTime flies, but it still seems like the release date for my new book is ages away…October 11th. However, just in case you can’t wait, I’m very excited to announce that I have two, count ’em two advanced reading copies of Speed of Life to give away – One to a Canadian resident (from Raincoast Books) and one to a US resident (from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Kids)!

It’s no secret that I’m a cat lover, but my alter-ego J. M. Kelly might just be a dog lover too…at least that’s what Gimlet thinks (the hairy white one with the pink tongue below). In this photo, she’s smiling because her main-squeeze-person (aka Eileen Cook) has been reading Speed of Life to her and it stars, yes…stars…a German Shepherd called Bonehead. Gimlet loves Bonehead. She might even crush on him a little bit. She definitely recommends Speed of Life and not just to dog lovers. When I asked her for a blurb, she said, “Wooof! Wooof! Woof!” (times about a thousand) and nibbled on my calves, toes, and knees…she was that excited!

Gimlet and Eileen read SoLA few others besides Gimlet have chimed in. Kirkus says: Crystal’s struggles with independence and identity are realistic and palpable. Feminist readers in particular will appreciate this strong young woman who doesn’t conform to gender norms.

And Eileen herself said: I loved this book.  I wanted to invite Crystal and Amber over to my house where I could make them a nice dinner and then help them figure out their lives while we enjoyed pie. Speed of Life grabs ahold of your heart on page one and doesn’t let go even after you’ve turned the final page. – Eileen Cook, author of WITH MALICE

So I’m thinking you should enter to win, and you’re wondering how, when & what do I get.

How? Leave a comment, receive an entry. Tweet about it, get another one (just include me @joellewrites in your tweet) , put it on Facebook get another one (you’ll have to let me know somehow as I’m not on FB). Put something about this contest on your own blog and get 10, yes 10 entries!!!

When? Between now and August 27, 2016

What Do I win? One US resident and one Canadian resident will win an advanced reader copy of Speed of Life sent to you by my publicist. I will also send you a signed postcard and maybe a few other surprises.

Here’s the jacket blurb if you haven’t seen it yet: Twins Crystal and Amber have the same goal: to be the first in their family to graduate high school and make something of their lives. When one gets pregnant during their junior year, they promise to raise the baby together. It’s not easy, but between their after-school jobs, they’re scraping by.

Crystal’s grades catch the attention of the new guidance counselor, who tells her about a college that offers a degree in automotive restoration, perfect for the car buff she is. When she secretly applies—and gets in—new opportunities threaten their once-certain plans, and Crystal must make a choice: follow her dreams or stay behind and honor the promise she made to her sister.

And here’s where you can pre-order the actual book if…you know…if you want to. I always find it weird to ask people to buy my books, so I don’t. But I’ll give you the information!

Powell’s Books

IndieBound

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Books-A-Million

Chapters Indigo

iTunes

Amazon USA       Amazon Canada

 

Look! It’s my first Middle Grade novel and it’s also my first book set entirely in Canada published by a Canadian Publisher (Second Story Press)

Cover final large

Wohooo!! I also have a release date of March 7th, 2017.

Pre-orders gladly taken here (more to come soon):

Amazon USA

Amazon Canada

 

If you haven’t heard already, I’m writing YA under a new name, J. M. Kelly. I’ve now linked my other website with this one…mostly for simplicity, but also for my sanity. And if you haven’t seen the beautiful cover of my new YA, Speed of Life, here it is! It’s out on October 11th, 2016. Yay!

SoL tiny pic

 

5th Apr, 2016

Good News PLUS!

Title Page editedI’ve had so much good news in the last week, but I’ll start with the best…I’m very excited to announce that Second Story Press is going to publish my first Middle Grade Novel, A Month of Mondays. It’s tentatively scheduled for release in spring of 2017. Click on the image to see it a bit larger so you can read it. I created it as a title page for the manuscript and was feeling quite clever when I made it, but then I couldn’t figure out how to add it to my document, so you know…it doesn’t pay to think you’re too smart! Still, it’s cute, don’t you think?

In other excellent news, I have been asked back to Vancouver Public Library‘s Kids Book Camp. I was there a few years ago workshopping with the younger kids, but this August I’ll be leading workshops for teen writers. I’m pretty excited about it as it’s a lot of fun, and I get to spend a week in Vancouver with the fabulous Eileen Cook.

The last bit of excellent news isn’t really mine, but I intend to share the glory. My husband has been nominated for a Vancouver Island Music Award for his 2015 CD release Mystery Loves Company.

28th Mar, 2016

Changes & News

number 3I have three very exciting bits of news…but one you’ll have to wait for!

The first one some of you know about already, but here it is…I have a new YA coming out in October under a pen name. The reason I’m using a pen name is because I’m now writing for younger kids too, and so I want to keep my middle grade (and younger) writing separate from my writing for teens. Visit my alter-ego here, and read all about my new book!

The second bit of news is the changes that you’ll see here on this website. Because it’s going to be dedicated to middle grade books, I’ve decided to create content aimed at the parent/teacher/librarian reader. Kids should be reading books, but they don’t need to hang out on my blog. I haven’t decided exactly what this means as far as regular posts go, but time will tell.

Check back for that third bit of news…hopefully in the next few weeks!

Happy Spring everyone!

Bonus! Why not give you 4 things? Victor’s new CD Those Nashville Blues is now available for download (previously, you could only order physical copies through us). For the record, iTunes basically only pays him a pittance, so if you’re into supporting the artist, you should get the CD by emailing me.

30th Dec, 2015

Fave 15 of 2015

While I’m not really blogging anymore, I couldn’t resist making a list of my Fave 15 of 2015 reads and sharing them here. For those of you interested in what else I read, you can click here. A few notes about the list. First, there are more middle grade novels than usual because I was one of the judges this year for the prestigious Red Cedar Award, so I read a lot of them. As for the links, they’re mostly to Amazon simply because it was the easiest way to get them, and frankly, I’d rather be reading than making hotlinks.

So that said…In no particular order:

  1. Midnight Thief & Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne (yes, I know I’m cheating right off the bat with two counting as one, but they’re a duology).
  2. The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge – a fascinating look at the brain and plasticity.
  3. Under the Painted Sky* by Stacey Lee – a historical romp through the Wild West, beautifully written.
  4. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – a wonderful book about art and life.
  5. The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams – if I were putting the books in order of favourites first, this probably would be my number one.
  6. We Are All Made of Molecules by Susan Nielsen – just a fantastic contemporary YA. I’m so happy this crossed my path.
  7. Loop and Twist by Karen Akins (again, a duology) – the only time travel books I’ve ever liked. And boy did I like these!
  8. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – possibly my favourite YA of the year. I hope she writes more YA because she’s definitely got the knack (also, if you’re thinking, “Seriously? She writes chick-lit!” then get over yourself!).
  9. Winterkill by Kate Boorman – ooooh, so scary and exciting. Also, it’s written by one of my favourite people. You should buy this one (and its sequel, Dark Thaw. And the third one when it comes out)
  10. Don’t You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire – I picked this one up randomly off the library shelf and was pleasantly surprised.
  11. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – I know, I’m probably one of the last to read this fantastic book, but it was so good that I don’t mind.
  12. Rocket Blues by David Skuy – a middle grade novel about hockey? And I liked it? No, I loved it. Great book!
  13. Curve Ball by John Danakas – a younger middle grade novel published by a publisher notorious (as far as I’m concerned) for terrible sports novels, this one was a delight!
  14. Outside In by Sarah Ellis – a middle grade that felt more like a YA. It’s got a surreal feel to it making you wonder if something magical is happening or if real life can simply be magical.
  15. Zomboy by Richard Scrimger – Yes, I read a zombie book and not only that, I really liked it. Scrimger uses a zombie to explore racism in an interesting and thoughtful way. The ending’s a bit gory though, so I’m think it’s better for older middle grade kids.

Here are 3 books to watch for in 2016.

  1. The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence – I got a sneak peek and this is one you don’t want to miss. Hear me now, other reviewers will say this, but I said it first: This book is this generation’s Hatchet by Gary Paulson. An exciting tale set in the wilds of Alaska. 5 January 2016.
  2. With Malice by Eileen Cook – You all know I’m an Eileen fan, but this book is going to bring her a vast audience like she’s never seen before. Think the NPR podcast show Serial meets YA thriller. Read here the exciting story of how fast it sold! to a new publisher. 7 June 2016.
  3. Speed of Life by J. M. Kelly – no reviews yet, but a great cover. 11 October, 2016.

*Regarding Under A Painted Sky: While this book contains numerous factual errors, I still think it’s one of the best books I read this year. If you’re a stickler for that kind of thing, just try not to be so uptight and enjoy it anyway.

30th Jun, 2015

Shhh…it’s a secret!

P4271234ec1024For years almost the only thing I posted on my blog was writing-related. Then a while ago, I stopped updating regularly, and occasionally posted something of interest to me or a bit of personal news. I am guessing because of the lack of updates, and the fact my most recent book came out in 2012, I don’t have a lot of regular blog readers anymore! However, I thought, for the two or three of you still out there (Hi, Wanda & Alexa! And probably Eileen), I’d put up a little update about why it’s likely you’ll see even less new content here.

I have a secret identity. I am now writing under a pseudonym. My next young adult novel will be under this name, and as of right now, I’ve agreed to keep the connection between myself and the new name quiet. It’s not like I’m in the Author Protection Program, or anything exciting like that. It’s more like I’ve changed publishers and editors, and everyone involved would like me to have a fresh start with this next book. So for now, that’s about all I have to say about it.

I am still interested in teaching/speaking at conferences as myself (or anyone else you want to hire me to be…I am an actress, after all), so if that’s why you’re here, please be assured, I’m happy to discuss all those kinds of opportunities.

Right&Real_COMP05Oh, and one more word about The Right & the Real. The rights have been returned to me which is why you can’t find it online anymore as an e-book and only used (or possibly at one of those cut-rate book outlets). I’ll probably do an e-book of it myself at some point, but if you really wish you’d bought a copy when you had a chance, I might be able to hook you up. I still know people. Drop me a line if that’s the case.

Most importantly, I want to say thank you…thanks for reading my books, for your emails, and for your friendship. Happy reading!

RTBASC Poster

21st Mar, 2015

Round the bend…

I was just thinking that four or five people out there in the world might wonder if I ever planned to blog again. So I thought, “Why not?”

The main reason I haven’t been around is because I’ve taken 2015 off from writing new books, and I’ve switched it up a bit. Instead of a novel, I wrote a play. It’s called Round the Bend at Salt Creek and here’s the little blurby bit answer to “What’s it about?”

It’s a comedy with old-time traditional music, set in rural Tennessee in 1956, and it’s about a father and daughter singing duo and what happens when a stranger comes to visit them one afternoon. All three of them end up getting their lives turned upside down, but in a good way.

This morning, we had our first table read. Because I play one of the three parts (my husband plays the father, and the writer/actress/painter/singer Portia Boehm plays his daughter) another actor graciously read my part so I could just listen. What a great experience!

We’re doing a staged reading of the play in June as part of the series Lulu Turns Ten.

Mystery Loves Company, border, square, web

The other thing I’ve been doing is managing my husband’s music career. He has just released his first CD in 15 years. The party was last night, and was a whole lot of fun, as well as SRO.

The CD is called Mystery Loves Company and is available on CD Baby now, and on iTunes.

Chump Man Blues - Single, Victor Anthony

 

He also has a new blues single out, if you’re so inclined. At CDbaby and iTunes.

 

I don’t really blog that much anymore, but I thought it was time, lest you think I’d disappeared. In a way, I kind of have. I don’t think I can really say why yet, but let’s just say that I might’ve recently received 85 Canadian middle grade novels which I might be in the process of reading by April. Let’s also say that I’m not insane, and that it’s part of volunteering for my new country, as the judge at our citizenship swearing in ceremony suggested we do. Also, you know, there might be the added bonus of FREE BOOKS!

Speaking of free books, my pal and fellow writer, Eileen Cook has a new YA novel coming out tomorrow, and to celebrate, she’s giving away a copy of it. Below is the entry information that I just lifted right from her website, yeah…copyright violation, I know. But she loves me and she understands I’m too busy reading MG to actually write my own post, so I doubt she’ll sue. So from Eileen, directly:

REMEMBER Contest

rememberMy new book REMEMBER comes out soon- so why not celebrate with a contest?

How would you like to win not only a FREE copy of REMEMBER, but also a free copy of the Cat Patrick novel of your choice? Why share Cat’s book too? (Other than the fact they are fabulous?) Because Cat was nice enough to say this about REMEMBER:

“Compelling combination of twisty mystery and realistic romance.”

Entering to win is easy. All you have to do is tweet or Facebook any of the following:
– A copy of the cover and how you’re looking forward to reading it.
– Any one of the buy links listed below

Indie Bound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Chapters/Indigo

Be sure if you put it on Facebook you tag me and if you use twitter include @eileenwriter so you’re sure to be entered.

A winner will be selected March 6, 2015

 

31st Dec, 2014

A nice round number….

This year, I read 100 books. Usually, I tell you my favourites. This year, I’ll just show you what I read and you can decide what looks good. Happy Reading in 2015!

Red River Raging
The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2)
Five, Six, Seven, Nate!
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
The Rosie Project
The Perilous Gard
You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter
Foursome
Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage
The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)
The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making
Keepsake
 
20th Dec, 2014

Teen Writing Circle

Last year, I was part of the Teen Book Club at the library, but teens have so much homework, it was always hard for them to add another book to their workload, even if it was a fun read. So this year, the new librarian and I talked it over and decided to try a Teen Writing Circle instead. This way, teens can drop in, write, share, talk about writing, and get feedback.

We’ve had three meetings so far, and it’s been great fun with some fantastic writing happening. The local newspaper thought it was worth writing about, so if you’re interested in an interview I did about it, here’s the link.

31st Oct, 2014

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo badgeHi all! Not really into blogging much anymore, but I thought I’d just put this little tidbit up for now. Last year, for the first time ever, I tried National Novel Writing Month and ended up with 50k words that I eventually threw away, but not until I’d mined the story and characters from them, changed the POV, and rewrote it into a novel I’m very happy with. I’m excited to say it’s out on submission as I type this. Maybe it will be one of those cool things where it sells exactly a year after I started it.

Anyway, I find myself ready to write something new just as NaNoWriMo is about to start again, so I figured I might as well give it a go. And if you’re doing it, I wanted to say, have fun and write, write, write!

Here’s the photo inspiring this new novel. It’s by the wonderful Canadian photographer, Fred Herzog and was taken in 1962 (and yes, the novel will be set then…a whole new challenge for me!). Here’s a link so you can see some of his other AMAZING work.

Fred Herzog Shopper 1962

Update on 6 November. I’ve decided it’s too soon to write this novel…I need to do a lot more research and a lot more thinking. I wrote 12k words in the first 5 days though and they’ve given me so much to think about. I’m not abandoning this project by any means, if anything, I’m more excited about it than ever, but it needs to gestate longer. The last book I wrote I thought about for 2 years before I wrote it (and then I wrote it VERY FAST). I’ve only been thinking about this book for a few months.

Never fear, I’m going to work on another project! It’s definitely the writing season for me. Hope it’s going well for you!

30th Oct, 2014

A warming winter smoothie

What you may not know is I fancy myself a pretty good cook. I almost never post recipes on this blog because it’s supposed to be about writing, but heck, I almost never blog so why not break a rule? Anyway, it’s pretty cold here, even for Canada, -8C when I went for my walk, so I decided I wanted a warming smoothie instead of my usual frozen one for breakfast. There’s no photo because it was so tasty I drank it already!

This is what I came up with: Warming Apple Spice Smoothie

Enjoy!

1 large apple*, quartered (if you have a high speed blender, you can leave the core & stem

1 large banana

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or nut, or soy milk)

1 cup hot tea (I used David’s Tea – crème caramel)

1/4 tsp each – clove, nutmeg

1/2-1 tsp cinnamon

1″ chunk (unpeeled) fresh ginger

2 TBS Hemp hearts

2 TBS Pumpkin seeds

2 TBS Coconut Oil

1/2 avocado

Blend on high for a minute or two. *I’ve never liked apples in smoothies because they seem grainy, but I’ve learned the trick is to really blend them longer than you do a normal smoothie. Between the spices, the fresh ginger, and the hot tea, this is warm and delicious, and not too sweet!

 

14th Oct, 2014

Zilpha Keatley Snyder

velvet roomI saw in the trades that author Zilpha Keatley Snyder passed away. I have a soft spot for her although I’ve read very few of her books because they’re scary, dark, and definitely not my thing. If you know me, you’re probably surprised I’ve read anything by her. But she wrote a lovely, slightly mysterious, and ultimately exciting book called THE VELVET ROOM, which I read as a kid and re-read every so often (I think I’ll read it again). It’s one of those favourite books from childhood. As an adult, I discovered she’d written loads of books and picked up one of her most famous ones, THE EGYPT GAME only to discover it was horrible, violent and frightening. That pretty much cured me of trying any of her others. But I understand she has a loyal following and I definitely think of her fondly because of TVR. So, adieu to Zilpha Keatly Snyder, and thank you for one of my favourite books.*

*I see the ebook is only $1.78. You should buy it!

23rd Sep, 2014

I Love to Write

20110602- 062editI don’t make many blog posts these days. Mostly because I blogged for a long time and I’ve pretty much said what I want to say about writing, but today, I’m feeling inspired. Or, if not exactly inspired, then fired up?

Last night, I listened to an interview with a writer and throughout the interview, I couldn’t help thinking that this particular writer has a very healthy attitude toward her craft. She enjoys it, and even when she talked about running into roadblocks, her general philosophy was that they happen and you just move on. That it’s all part of the process of creating art.

No matter how the interviewer tried to goad her to admitting it was hard, or depressing, or frustrating, or the depths of misery to write, she skirted around those ideas because clearly, she didn’t believe it has to be that way. But she was also afraid of actually saying: I enjoy writing.

And I know exactly where she’s coming from. Enjoying creating art is practically taboo. It’s like you’re saying, “Look at me! I not only wrote this, but I had fun doing it!” and that makes you arrogant. Or at the very least, annoying to all the other writers who are busy living in despair. I find this very sad. So many writers act like it’s virtuous to suffer for your art and I just can’t buy into that. Countless times I’ve read quotes like, “I like having written, but the actual writing is the worst. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s drudgery.”

Really? That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.

And while this may not prove a popular question, I’m going to ask it anyway. Why the hell do you do it if all it brings you is misery? I am a firm believer in spending my life doing as much fun stuff as I can, but especially my art should be fun. It should be a blast. Even the hard days. Even the days where you throw out a third of what you’ve written. I’m sorry, but that actually excites me because when that happens I realize I’ve had a breakthrough. I never lament those ten thousand (or fifty thousand…yes, fifty thousand) words I throw out because it was fun doing them the first time around and what I’m going to replace them with is fun, too!

For years I had a job I hated. It’s been fifteen years since I had that job, but I can tell you right now that I still dream that I work there and wake up in a cold sweat full of dread. If writing ever did that to me, then I would find something else to do with my time. It’s not virtuous to suffer. You don’t have to wear black and moan to be good at your art. In fact, I think the more fun you have, the better your writing is. At least, that’s true for me.

And just to be clear, I’m talking about the actual writing & editing process here. Not publishing. Publishing’s hard on everyone because Art and Business are trying to marry and they’re different species. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a great editor to work both sides for you, but no matter who you are, sometimes you’re going to get screwed over by publishing. There was a time not so long ago that I thought I hated writing, but the truth was that I was so wrapped up in my publishing path I was mixing the two together. And then one day, I realized that my job is to write and my agent’s job is to handle that stuff. Ahhhh…peace.

I remember in drama school a teacher telling me as I fought the process (because of my insecurities), “It’s called a play for a reason.” If I’m going to spend time suffering, it’s going to be because I’m doing mundane tasks like the dishes or the taxes, not how I spend eight hours of my day.

You might be reading this and thinking, “Oh, that’s all well and good for her. She’s the exception.” Or even, “She’s lying.” But the truth is that we can all enjoy our art. We just have to choose to. If you prefer to suffer, if it makes you feel like you’re getting to the heart of your art, or it’s just how you function best, then go for it. But I want to say what that writer in that interview was afraid to say last night.

I love to write.

Even when it’s tough. Even when I go in the wrong direction and have to throw stuff out. Even when I have no idea if it’s working or not. And I’m not going to apologize for that ever again.

I love to write. So there.

 

12th Aug, 2014

O Canada!

Today, my husband and I became Canadian citizens. We’ve been landed immigrants (kind of like a green card in the US) for seven years, but now we’re really, truly Canadians. Here we are with the judge and the requisite Mountie. I have to say it was a very moving ceremony and one of the highlights of my life so far. I’m proud to be a citizen of this great country and hope I can give back to it in exchange for all it has offered and continues to give me.

Citizenship 2014

 

For those of you who are curious, we will retain our American citizenship also, so we’re now dual citizens.

Seven years ago, my husband and I took the pledge not to buy bottled water anymore. Except for a rare emergency, we’ve stuck to it, packing along our water bottles and keeping a gallon or two in the truck for refills when we’re out and about. I think I can honestly say I’ve bought fewer than 5 bottles of water in the last 7 years.

Today’s Independence Day in the US. Grab your independence from bottled water and oil, and take the pledge. And if you need some incentive. How about this?

Oil for Water

30th Jun, 2014

Oh, Canada!

canada-flag.jpgTomorrow, 1st July (see how I wrote it the Canadian way-the number first-instead of July 1st?), is Canada Day. While we haven’t received our official letter, it seems very likely due to the fact that they’ve scheduled Canadian Citizenship Swearing In Ceremonies in our closest city for August, that we’re soon to be official Canadians.

In the spirit of Canadian friendliness, I now redirect you to my good pal, and recent Canadian citizen, Eileen Cook who has posted some fun facts about Canadians in honour (fancy spelling!) of the day.

So, Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends! And for those of you who are Americans, Happy July 4th!

The wonderful Wanda Collins Johnson, friend, writer, and critique group member, has asked me if I’d participate in a Blog Hop on the writing process. I can never turn down her smiling face. So here are my answers. I’m not actually going to tag anyone (yes, I’m responsible for killing that million dollar chain letter you were counting on making you rich, too), but feel free to play along. Leave your link in the comments.

What am I working on now? I’ve just finished something…like literally sent it off to my agent a few days ago, so while I’m not technically writing anything, I’m pondering both new and past ideas. I think I’ve narrowed it down to a story that I want to tell. You could call it a love story, in the vein of one of my favourite authors, Nevil Shute. It’s for adults, and it’s centered around a bookstore. I can’t say much more except that it’s set in 1962 Portland, Oregon, and it was inspired by this fabulous picture taken by Fred Herzog (Vancouver, 1962).

 Shopper

How does my work differ from others in its genre? Well, I don’t really know! I have never written historical fiction before and so I would mostly call this an experiment. It may not work out. I might feel too bogged down and move on to something else, or I might find it really exciting. I do know the story couldn’t be told the way I want to tell it in a contemporary setting, so it’s historical fiction or nothing.

Why do I write what I do? My first two books are for young adults, as well as a third one which we haven’t sold yet, but are very hopeful will find a home. (Are you an editor? Please call my agent right away for a stunning new YA novel!). And the book I just finished writing is for adults, as is this new one I have in mind. So I guess the answer to why do I write what I do is that it’s just about story…a story comes into my head and nine times out of ten, I discard it (sometimes after writing as much as fifty or sixty pages). But then one sticks and I can’t stop thinking about it and so that’s why I write it.

How does my writing process work? It’s eighty percent discipline, ten percent the fact my brain is always making up stories, and ten percent inspiration brought on mostly by walking and showers. Seriously, the only reason I have written any books at all is because I show up to write. And if I don’t feel like writing, I write anyway. I am lucky in that I don’t have a regular job, so I block out Monday through Friday all day for writing. People are amazed that I spend “all day” writing. Ha! On a very good day, I might write for 2-3 hours. Mostly I’m thinking, snacking, reading, thinking, snacking, procrastinating, and reading with a tiny bit of writing thrown in. When I’m revising, it’s different…then I might get in 3-5 hours of work and very little reading. It’s hard for me to read while my story is so present in my mind, so I generally cook. My husband prefers the revision days to the writing new material which usually end with me saying: I’m too tired to make dinner, honey…my brain power is all used up! Can you find anything in the fridge?

So that’s about it. Read a lot. Show up. Shower and walk often. And let your imagination run wild!

P.S. I would be very remiss in neglecting to mention the crucial role my early readers play in my writing process. I seriously wouldn’t be able to write a publishable book without them (or my agent’s valuable input). So thanks. You know who you are!

 

 

19th May, 2014

Mary Stewart 1916-2014

At the risk of you all stopping by my blog and mistaking it for a literary obituary page, I do feel I must post something about the author Mary Stewart who just passed away at the age of 97. For years, I’ve been a big fan of hers, my favourite is by far The Ivy Tree (don’t let the goofy cover fool you). Years and years ago, I wrote to Mrs. Stewart asking her about the film rights – you see, I was studying screenwriting and was hoping I could adapt it on speculation. I even had the perfect cast in mind…Emma Thompson as the heroine, Gwyneth Paltrow as her young cousin. Alas, it was not to be as she referred me to her agent who said there was already interest in the rights (I highly doubt it as the book had been out for thirty years or more!), but I did receive a very nice handwritten letter from Mrs. Stewart. And after that, we corresponded a bit, so I have a few letters in my possession. She was lovely and friendly and if you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend them. She’s popularly known for her Merlin trilogy (starting with The Crystal Cave), but she’s thought of more as a romance writer overall…Gothic romances, sometimes with murders and intrigue, sometimes with magic realism, sometimes straight-up.

Rest in Peace, Mary Stewart. Your writing has been enjoyed by millions and inspiring to those of us who write. Thank you!

The Three JsThose of you who have read this blog over the years already know how much I adore the author John Rowe Townsend. It’s with sadness that I type these words: John passed away last weekend, at the age of 91. It has been eight years since I visited with him and his wife Jill Paton Walsh, but I think of them often, and those of you who’ve read Restoring Harmony know that the book is dedicated to him.

His obituary from The Guardian is here and it’s really a wonderful piece.

Rather than write something new today, I’m going to include links to all the things I’ve written about him over the years. I hope you enjoy them.

Featured Author – JRT

My visit to Cambridge

Launch week dedication for Restoring Harmony

Places I want to visit, inspired by books I’ve read.

Cranford and Cranford Revisited

The husband is reading JRT (P.S. I should add that after I wrote this, he read The Islanders and The Invaders and years later he’s still talking about them regularly)

A lifelong love affair

 

2nd Mar, 2014

Read this…

An important piece about the internet, writing, reading, and words by my friend Joelle Charbonneau over at Do Some Damage. Take a couple of minutes and read it. She knows what she’s talking about.

Year of Mistaken Discoveries Cover

This contest is over. Congratulations to Katherine Melnyk (and the original winner who couldn’t wait and bought herself a copy, Jade Winters)! Everyone else, just buy the book. You know you want to!

You all know what a fan I am of Eileen Cook, both as a writer and as a fabulous friend! To celebrate the release of her latest book, I’m giving away a copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment between now and its release day, 25 February. If you tweet about it or post it on Facebook, let me know in your comment and I’ll give you an extra entry for each. This is open to anyone living where the Book Depository ships.

Oh, and yes, I did read an early draft…you definitely want to read this one!

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