Thursday, 31 March 2011

Life As We Know It! My Best Friend Weight Watchers.

My best friend WW(Weight Watchers) and I have fallen out. We had a huge argument which resulted in a few disturbing ProPoints being raised and now she refuses to take my calls. It seems that she was disgusted to discover my secret obsession for crisps, chocolate and wine.

So many times in the past she has constantly reminded me how she picked up the pieces when I fell out with my previous best friend SW(Slimming World). How she helped me through the bad times, the tears and the tantrums with her endless supply of carrot sticks, cucumber chunks and apple slices. I should be grateful for her attentive nature, but unfortunately I am not. It is almost a relief to my waistline to see the back of her.

I would like to say that our friendship has been a smooth one, but I would be lying. She has never understood my desperate need for the bad things in life. An evening in front of the television just doesn’t feel right without a bottle of wine and a bar of Dairy Milk. She would often do spot checks at my house late in the evening, stealing away any unmentionables and replacing them with inedibles such as muesli bars and fat free yoghurts instead.

She would never let me choose the restaurants we went to. It was always her choice, as she dragged me past McDonalds, where the smell alone could add a couple of pounds and push me into Subways for a healthy low calorie alternative.

She would hide my possessions on purpose. She knew it would be the only way to get my butt off the chair so took great enjoyment in regularly hiding my asthma spray – an important necessity when in the middle of an asthma attack!

Her idea of a girl’s night in would result in a TV marathon of the Biggest Loser whilst sweating away furiously on an exercise bike! Nightclubs and bars have become a thing of the past, since she has discovered Zumba; her idea of a girl’s night out.

She could be pleasant occasionally. She liked to pass me inspirational magazines every week, pointing out new recipes to try or other exercise regimes to help annihilate my wobbly bits.

She liked to buy me presents too. For Christmas she bought me a Wii exercise game. I was so excited I tried it straight away then hobbled around like a bow legged donkey for a week with each footstep resulting in a whimper.

Intent on finding the perfect gift for me, she bought me a pedometer for my birthday. This resulted in warning posters appearing around the village warning everyone of the unhinged woman who will stop and fiddle with herself in public. They didn’t understand when I tried to explain I was trying to work out the distance I had walked.

I know she isn’t missing me as she has lots of other friends. She shows off by hiring a hall to meet them once a week, gloating as she claims she can’t possibly fit so many people in her house. I am no longer invited to the inner circle and stand outside, my face pressed up against the window. But her other friends have been told to ignore me. They are fiercely loyal  to her; when one of us falls from grace, they know to treat them like lepers.

She has become a bit of a supplier on the side, selling sweets and low fat bars as acceptable substitutes for everyone’s sins. Personally I prefer the real baddies, but her cooking must be tasty as she has managed to convince the local supermarkets to sell boxes of the stuff with her name plastered all over it. She is quickly climbing up the ladder to world domination one low fat cracker at a time.

So for now, I will stand back and watch her ruin everybody else’s life. But she knows and I know that eventually I will have to talk to her again. As my jeans get too tight to pull up over my thighs and the buttons on my shirt struggle to contain my ever growing chest, I know my days without her are numbered. I will sigh, pick up the phone and beg her forgiveness, in order to start the cycle all over again and begin the endless repetitive journey to a smaller waistline.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Indigo - Orion's New Imprint for Young Adults - Squee!

Before I start this post, can I say a huge thank you to Liz over at My Favourite Books for letting me copy her pictures, as I had a bit of trouble trying to load them myself. Liz is my blogging guru, so go check out her blog too.
I promised you last week that I would share with you the awesome books that will be released through Orion's new imprint Indigo which will be launched in September.  They will be releasing four books a month and I want to show you what lovely books to expect in September and October.

1st September 2011/ Hardback

First they killed her father. Now they're trying to kill her . . .
There are vampires at April Dunne’s school. Not Goths, or Emos in fancy dress. Dangerous, bloodsucking
semi-immortals. They run the school. And they're using their influence to recruit smart,rich students - aka 'bleeders' - to their cause.
What is that cause? April isn't sure. But she knows they killed a rock star for it, and innocents who got too close to the truth. One of them almost killed her. But that's nothing to what's coming next.
Gabriel, her kinda-boyfriend, is dying and unless April can find a cure then not only is she going to be boyfriendless, she's also going to lose one of her major allies in the school. And she really needs allies.

1st September 2011/Trade Paperback

An email from her murdered sister sets Alice Forster on a chilling path - to solve the mystery of Megan's death, and the even greater mystery of her life AFTER death.
When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun,sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . .
But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead?
Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next?

5th September 2011/ Hardback

The first in an exciting series of young adult thrillers from the master of the hook-and-twist.Harlan Coben's very first young adult project will link in with the storylines in his up-and-coming adult thrillers as Myron Bolitar discovers that his mysterious tearaway younger brother, Brad, has a son – who is now a teenager.
When our series hero's father, Brad, dies in a mysterious accident in South America, Myron is his closest, albeit estranged, relative left and is assigned to be his legal guardian. Will uncle and nephew be able to live with one another? And will our hero be able to resist getting involved in solving a mystery disappearance at his new high school?

1st September 2011/ Paperback
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An epic battle between good and evil...with Jack Swift caught in the middle.Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high-schoolers. Until one day Jack forgets his 'medicine'. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great - right up to the moment when he loses control and almost kills another player during the soccer team tryouts.Jack is about to learn that he is Weirlind; part of an underground society of magical people who
live among us. At the head of this magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game - a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior  to fight to the death.

6TH October 2011/ Hardback

What would you sacrifice for someone you’ve loved for ever?
Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life?
In a novel comprising seven short stories each of them influenced by a moon - flower moon, harvest moon, hunter's moon, blood moon - and travelling from 2073 back in time to the dark of the moon and the days of Viking saga, this is the story of Eric and Merle who have loved and lost one another and who have been searching for each other ever since. In the different stories the two appear as lovers, mother and son, brother and sister, artist and child as they come close to finding each other before facing the ultimate sacrifice.
Beautifully imagined, intricately and cleverly structured this is a heart-wrenching and breathtaking love story, but it also has the hallmark Sedgwick gothic touch with plenty of blood-spilling, a vampire and sacrifice.

20th October 2011/ Trade paperback

Sixteen-year-old Neva plots to escape her world where everyone looks the same and no one is allowed to leave in this compelling thriller about identity, trust and freedom.Neva keeps a list of The Missing - the people like her grandmother who were part of her life but who have now vanished. The people that everyone else pretends never existed. In a nation isolated beneath the dome of the Protectosphere - which is supposed to protect,but also imprisons - Neva and her friends dream of freedom.
But life is becoming complicated for Neva. She's falling for her best friend's boyfriend - and he's learning more than she ever wanted to know about what might be happening to The Missing.

16 October 2011/ Paperback

The extraordinary new adult fantasy of magic in our world and the price we pay for it by the author of THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES.
Cassel is cursed. Cursed by the memory of the fourteen year old girl he murdered. Life at school is a constant trial. Life at home even worse. No-one at home is ever going to forget that Cassel is a killer. No-one at home is ever going to forget that he isn't a magic worker.
Cassel's family are one of the big five crime families in America. Ever since magic was prohibited in 1929 magic workers have been driven underground and into crime. And while people still need their touch, their curses, their magical killings, their transformations, times have been hard. White Cat is a stunning novel of a world changed by magic.

                                                16TH October 2011/ Paperback

War is coming, and magic is spiralling out of control . . .
Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it's not his attitude that's the problem: it's the trail of magical accidents - lately, disasters - that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained, and his powers are escalating.Worse still, Seph makes a discovery: the stories he's been told about his parents' life and death are fabrications. The people he most trusted have been lying to him. Who can he trust,when everyone around him is keeping secrets?

So there you have the first two sets of books that will be released this year. I am so excited about these books and I cannot wait to read them. Which ones are you interested in?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Pages - 484
Published by  Atom Books in 2010
Book - part of the UK Book Tour organised by the lovely Lynsey

Our arrival didn't exactly go as planned. I remember it was almost dawn when we landed because the streetlights were still on. We had hoped our descent would go unnoticed, which it mainly did, save for a thirteen-year-old boy doing a paper round.

Every time I think about Halo, my thoughts instantly return to one mind blowing detail. The author is only 18 years old and had first book published at 16. Wow! Regardless of what anyone including myself think about the book, that is one hell of an achievement for someone so young. I only wish I had been as creative and accomplished as her at that age.

Halo brings us the story of three angels brought down to Earth, to bring goodness back into society.  There is Gabriel the warrior, an archangel and one of the Holy Seven; Ivy the healer, a seraphim and one of the angels closest to the Lord and  Bethany, a young angel who resides at the bottom of the angel ladder.

They all arrive on Earth with the intention of bringing peace and harmony, but somehow Bethany gets a little sidetracked on the way. Being the most human of the three angels she falls in love with a mortal and the other angels begin to worry that she might just not be able to complete the job she was sent down to Earth to do.

Many of you know that I am a sucker for an angel book and this one did not disappoint.  I loved reading about how the angels tried to settle into normal every day human life, which was as foreign to them as living in an igloo would be to me. 

I found within Alexandra's writing that she captured the essence of first love so accurately, I found myself stepping back in time to my own teenage years.  The feelings were those intense, gut wrenching,hunger suppressing, cannot be apart for longer than an hour kind of  feelings. Alexandra has managed to evoke emotions and memories in myself that had long been forgotten. ( That makes me sound old. Eeek!)

I did find Xavier, Bethany's mortal boyfriend,  a little over protective, but then Bethany has to be the most innocent lead character I have ever come across, although that fits perfectly with her character as an angel on her first visit to Earth.

The book was a little longer than I would have preferred. I would have liked it to be compacted a  little more with perhaps the bad boy Jake turning up a little earlier in the story. However I still really enjoyed the story as it progressed and didn't find myself desperate for the action to start.  I am over the moon that nearly every loose strands of the story are wrapped up in the book, and although I know everything  wasn't completely finalised, I felt contented to wait for the next book.

This story does have a lot of religious overtones which did not bother me at all. I have read a lot of non fiction angel books and felt that Alexandra had definitely carried out a lot of research on her subject matter.

I am just so impressed by Alexandra's writing talents that I cannot wait to watch her grow as a writer. I think Stephanie Meyer may have a little competition here! (Don't tell her though, lets keep it a secret!).

Monday, 28 March 2011

The Day I Met Lauren Oliver And Lots Of Lovely YA Bloggers!

Before I start this post, I just want to say a big thank to Sarah from Feeling Fictional blog for allowing me to use some of her photos from the event. She is an amazing photographer and a lovely blogger, so do go visit her blog which is listed at the bottom of the post.

On Monday I got invited by Hodder and Stoughton to go to the book launch for Lauren Oliver's new dystopian novel Delirium. You can read my review of Delirium here. I was lucky to be invited and I must thank the delightful Clover from Fluttering Butterflies for getting me on the guest list.

The event was held on the Caledonian Road in London at Drink, Shop and Do, which was a delightful setting where tea and cake were served - just so typically English.  I found it hilarious watching Lynsey from Narratively Speaking and UK Book Tours, drinking gin from a bone china tea cup!

Lauren Oliver was AMAZING! She was so lovely to talk to and made us all feel so relaxed in her company. Lauren sat down with us at our table and it was like we had known her for years.  We discussed the books, as well as talking about the film possibilities.  Lauren was an utter delight to talk to.
This was the first blogger event I have ever been invited to and it was fabulous to talk to the people behind some of the blogs I love and to talk without having to Twitter in 140 characters first.  In the picture above, I am sat next to the charming Clover from Fluttering Butterflies.
I also got to sit next to Jo from Once Upon a Bookcase who was delightful too. During the evening's events we got to listen to a musical set from Minnie Birch whose wrote the Delirium song for the book trailers.
Here is a photo of some of the lovely book bloggers who attended the event
Other bloggers who attended who are not featured in these photos

A big thank you to Eleni from Hodder and Stoughton for inviting me to such a wonderfully English occasion. Check out the video below of the event.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

IMM (2)

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly feature organised by The Story Siren. IMM is a post where you can show which books entered your house and it also gives you a chance to say thank you to the people that kindly sent them. To find out more about how you can join in click here.

Do you know there are some utterly wonderful people in the book world, and I can't wait to give them a shout out.

1) Shadows On The Moon by  Zoë Marriott. This was kindly sent to me to review by Walkers Books, thanks to the lovely Zoë herself. 

2) Wood Angel by Erin Bow
3) A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master - both of these books were lent to me by lovely Clover of Fluttering Butterflies.

The next three books were lent to me by the fantastic Keris Stainton, although Jessie Hearts NYC is mine to keep. Keris put it in as a surprise and it most definitely was.

4) Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton
5) Chime by Franny Billingsley
6) Divergent by Veronica Roth

7) The Guardian Angel's Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke - kindly given to me to review by Piatkus

8) Dark Matter by Michelle Paver - I picked this one up from the library to read.

9)Dark Angels ( known as The Shadow Hunt in US) was kindly sent to me by the author Katherine Langrish

10) Dancing Jax by Robin Jarvis was kindly sent to me by HarperCollins Childrens Books after I won it through a Twitter competition.

I am truly thankful to everyone who sent me books this week. I am so excited, I don't know what to read next.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

International and UK Giveaway of West Of The Moon by Katherine Langrish.

It has been lovely this week to have Katherine Langrish visiting my blog and what better way to finish it off than with a double giveaway.

Thanks to the generosity of the lovely publicists at HarperCollins Children's Books I have two copies of West Of the Moon to give away. So I thought it might be nice to give one book out in England and the other book to go to an international follower.

All you have to do to enter is your leave your name, email address and whether you are entering the UK competition or the International competition.

You can triple your chances of winning by doing the following:

If you become a follower of the blog, you will get an extra entry.

If you tweet about the blog and link it to my tweet name @serendipidy101 you will get an extra entry too.

The competition closes on Saturday 2nd April (12 noon - UK time) and the winners will be announced shortly afterwards after I have picked them using Randomizer. 

Good luck to everyone who enters.

The next stop on the West of the Moon Tour is The Paradoxes Mr Pond who will continue the tour next Wednesday.

A big thank you to Katherine Langrish for coming onto the blog this week and keeping us entertained with her fabulous new book West Of The Moon.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Guest Post - Katherine Langrish - Author of West of the Moon

Why I Love Writing Historical Fantasies

All the books I’ve written so far have been historical fantasies. This may not always be the case – and my current WIP is something rather different. But I do love the richness of fantasies set in the past. My trilogy ‘West of the Moon’ takes place in the Viking Age, and I’m sometimes asked why. Well, obviously the sagas provide great material for exciting stories. If I ask schoolchildren to describe what Vikings mean to them, hands shoot up, and they say things like: ‘bloodthirsty’, ‘raiders’, ‘killing people with axes’.

All this is true, but the Vikings were also farmers, sailors, discoverers and poets. I’m fascinated by the paradoxes of the age. Here are these energetic, independent, self-reliant people, bursting out of Scandinavia and sailing all over the world, to Byzantium, to Russia – raiding the British coast, discovering and colonising Iceland and Greenland, crossing to North America. Yet their appetite for adventure isn’t romantic so much as intensely practical; it’s all about things we can understand – obtaining goods, winning land for farms, settling down in a new place to raise families.

Norway and Iceland didn’t adopt Christianity until around 1000 AD. That’s incredibly late for Europe as a whole, so there’s this tension between pagan and Christian ideas, amulets with the cross on one side and Thor’s hammer on the other so that people could hedge their bets. We’ve become so used to a Christian (and post-Christian) Europe that it’s really intriguing to take a peek into this mirror where things are different. (So different, that many people vaguely assume the Vikings are sort of … prehistoric.)

The Vikings accepted that the world was a violent, unfair place - even their gods weren't immune from destruction - and they believed there was no point in making a fuss. The best thing was to earn the respect of gods and men. “Cattle die, kindred die: every man is mortal. One thing never dies: the name of a man who has done well.”

And we can share their admiration of those who did their best to live up to that motto, often with grim humour.

“Bury me on that headland where I thought I would build a home,” says Thorvald Eiriksson, mortally wounded by an arrow, in the Greenland Saga. “I seem to have hit on the truth when I said I would settle there.”

His courage is attractive, but in modern terms Thorvald richly deserved his fate: he'd just murdered several Native Americans as they lay asleep. Another hero, Iceland’s great poet Egil Skallagrimsson, was six years old when he deliberately killed a playmate with his axe. Violent, ruthless, canny, yet the author of a heartbreaking poem on the death of his son who drowned at sea, he wasn’t a man you would be happy to have living next door. I thought of Egil when I wrote the character of Harald Silkenhair, my hero Peer’s enemy in the third part of ‘West of the Moon’. How do we stand up to the threat of violence? What is true bravery? These are questions the Vikings were deeply concerned with, and so are we, however different our answers may be.

But of course, ‘West of the Moon’ isn't confined to gritty, bleak history: it's also a fantasy. So I was able to bring in all kinds of wonderful creatures and characters from Scandinavian folklore: trolls and nisses (household spirits like brownies), ghosts and merfolk. Scandinavian trolls are not much like the stupid, slabby Fungus-the-Bogeyman type trolls you might be familiar with from the Harry Potter books, or even from ‘The Hobbit’. They are elf folk, unpredictable and dangerous, ranging from human sized, or even giants, to quite small creatures – all of whom need to be treated with great caution. Some lurk around farm buildings or make raids right into the farmhouse on Christmas Eve – there’s a famous story in which one such unruly band is scared away by a white bear. Some haunt wild places, mountains and hills; while others live in burial mounds.

Nisses are more approachable. They live in the household and perform tasks in return for bowls of food – but they are touchy, easily offended little things who love playing tricks and practical jokes. They can be affectionate too, becoming very attached to certain individuals or animals – in one story, a Nis is so fond of a particular white mare, he steals sackfuls of corn from a neighbouring barn to give the animal extra feed. When the suspicious farmer catches him, the Nis bursts into tears and leaves forever. And of course, all the farmer’s good luck goes with him…

I could go on and on for ever, but I’m running out of space. All I can say is that I love writing historical fantasy because of its wonderful range of moods and situations – the freedom to move from hard-hitting Viking adventure to comical, homely little hearth-spirits, to the love-tragedy of a seal woman who deserts her mortal family to return to the sea. Not many genres offer so much, and if you like that kind of thing as much as I do, you might just like my book...!

Thank you Katherine for such a wonderful post. It is so lovely to read how passionate you are about historical fantasy.

To my lovely bloggers, make sure you come back tomorrow for a giveaway!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

West of the Moon by Katherine Langrish

Published by HarperCollins Childrens Book in March 2011

West Of the Moon is an abridged from Troll Fell, Troll Mill and Troll Blood which were published in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

Book kindly sent to me by HarperCollins Childrens Books.

Peer Ulfsson stood at his father's funeral pyre, watching the sparks whirl up like millions of shining spirits streaking away into the dark. The flames scorched his face, but his back was freezing. The wind slid cold fingers down his neck.

Surely this was all a bad dream? He turned, almost expecting to see his father standing behind him, his thin tanned face carved with deep lines of laughter and life. But the sloping shingle beach ran steep and empty into the sea.

You know when you read a book and you dread reaching the last page, because you instinctively you will miss the characters and the fantasy world they live in, well this is one of those books. I felt emotionally attached to the characters and wanted to know whether they ever returned to their original lives.

As an abridged version of three books,the book is an epic 614 pages, allowing  you to have plenty of time to make yourself comfortable in a world where Vikings, Trolls and Ice Giants all coexist, if not always happily together. The book is split into three parts with follow different events in Peer's life. The first part deals with Peer's relationship with his uncles and his need to escape their evil clutches before being handed to the Troll King as a slave. The second part shows Peer's desperation to appear more grown up in front of Hilde, by trying to bring the mill back to life. The last part follows Peer and Hilde as they travel to the land that is east of the Sun and west of the Moon.  Each part, blends beautifully into the next one, leaving me disappointed at the end to find out there was no more. 

The first pages of the book lift you up and throw you straight in the horror that is to become Peer Ulfsson's new life. His father has died and his uncles whom he has never met before take him home to use as a slave. It is heart wrenching to read how they treat them.  You find yourself gasping with horror with each incident. The darkness envelops you and you become desperate for Peer to escape his miserable life..

Peer's only salvations are his dog, Loki and his new found friend, Hilde. Peer's relationship with Hilde is beautiful to watch as it blossoms from childhood friendship to love.   Throughout the book they are constantly thrown into difficult situations to tackle and work together to solve each problem. You are repeatedly urging Peer and Hilde to rebuild their friendship with love,as you can see they are suited to each other.

Kathleen Langrish has created a beautiful landscape through her extensive world building. The attention to detail gives this fantasy land such an air of authenticity.  You can easily picture the mill, the farm and Troll Hill as the hill becomes raised for each special occasion.

There is a character within the book called the Nis, who I adored on contact. In my eyes, I viewed him to be a bit like Dobby from the Harry Potter films, only smaller. He helped with the cleaning and looking after the babies. He also becomes a sailor in the last part of the book. He is just a wonderful character to meet and definitely my favourite within the book. 

Out of the three parts of the book, I would say that I loved the first part the best.  The introduction of the Troll King and his family had me enthralled.  In this part, we also see that Peer's uncles get just what they deserve, after such ill treatment of Peer. I hated his uncles as soon as they turned up in the book and couldn't wait to see them suffer. 

I have never read anything about Vikings and trolls before, but Katherine has left me with a thirst for more information. I will be seeking out other Viking books to help calm my curiosity.

I am also very curious about Katherine Langrish's future books as she will definitely be an author I will want to read again.

Tomorrow on the blog, Katherine tells us about why she loves historical fiction.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Big Break with Katherine Langrish

On the Big Break feature today we have the wonderful Katherine Langrish who has just released West Of the Moon with Harper Collins this month.

Firstly can I thank Katherine for joining me on the blog today

Many thanks to Vivienne for inviting me to her blog. I’m a British YA fantasy writer, and my books so far have all been historical fantasies – a trilogy, ‘West of the Moon’, set in the Viking Age, and a stand-alone novel called ‘Dark Angels’ (‘The Shadow Hunt’ in the US), set in medieval Britain at the time of Richard the Lionheart. I love folklore and legends, many of which have found their way into my work – and I blog about them too, at Seven Miles of Steel Thistles.
 What was your first reaction when you found out that your first book was to be published? How did it make you feel?

I was totally thrilled. In fact, the thrills kept on coming! I’d been sending my manuscript out for so long, and had at least 12 rejections. The first moment of excitement was when a professional reader told me she thought it was good. This was Liz Kessler, now a best-selling children’s author in her own right. She helped me to find my agent, Catherine Clarke – another wonderfully exciting moment. Catherine was immensely helpful and gave me brilliant advice on revising and partly rewriting my ms, and then, when she sent it out, no less than eight publishers offered for it, and the book went to auction.

What were you doing when you found out? Who did you tell first?

I was on my own when I first heard that at least one publisher wanted the book, and I tried to phone my husband and then my mother, but they weren’t available, and my children were at school. I couldn’t get hold of anyone in my entire family! I was bursting to tell someone, so I drove into town, went to the library, and asked the librarian, “Can I tell you something exciting? I’m getting a book published!” She was completely lovely – delighted for me, and has asked about my work ever since.

Then, when I found out that several publishers were interested, I made several visits to meet some of them. At last, there was the excitement of the auction, with my agent calling me at home to keep me informed as the bids rose. My mother came round, and we nervously drank cup after cup of tea as I tried to convince myself this was all really happening! (Looking back on it now, I wonder we didn’t hit the brandy!)

How long did it take for your book to be published after you had been told?
 Quite a long time – about 18 months.

What was happening to your manuscript during this time?

Not only was there – as there always is – plenty more editing – line edits, copy edits – but also the design, the book’s cover, and the whole sales and marketing campaign to be organised by my publisher, Harper Collins. It all takes a lot of time. I wasn’t involved in the cover art decisions, or the marketing campaign – authors rarely are – but the editing was a long process. Also, as they wanted a sequel, I had to begin thinking of that, so there was plenty to keep me occupied.

 How did it feel to see your name in print?

It was a dream come true. Something I’d wanted since I was ten years old and had sometimes begun to think would never happen. Marvellous!

Where was the first place that you saw your book on sale, and did you do anything crazy when you saw it?

Actually, I didn’t do anything crazy – it was a little in advance of the official publication day, but ARC’s were on sale at the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ annual convention in Birmingham, in spring 2004. I knew I had to make a speech in a short while, and I was so terrified, I probably hadn’t got room for any other emotion! But I do remember Celia Rees coming by, buying a copy of my book, and asking me to sign it for her. Celia Rees! I was dumbstruck – and star-struck. It was just like Celia, to be so kind.

What are you working on now?

My work-in-progress is a young adult fantasy, with more than a dash of science fiction, set in London about 300 years into the future – so a new departure for me. I don’t want to say too much about it, yet, but it involves parallel universes, so I’m currently reading a lot of books about string theory and particle physics – but there’ll be folklore elements too. I’m very excited about it, but it’ll take me at least a year more to write.

Being an established author, do you still get the same thrill when you see a new book released?

Oh yes! I don’t think that thrill will ever die. At the moment I’m feeling that way about the wonderful new edition of my Viking trilogy. All three ‘Troll’ titles in one volume! I love its beautiful cover, with my young hero standing poised in wreaths of icy mist!

What advice would you give unpublished authors?

My first piece of advice would be to read as much as you can in the genre you want to work in. You know: if you want to write fantasy, read plenty of contemporary authors: if you want to try a gritty realistic thriller, the same advice… That way, you’ll get a feel for what publishers want, and how professional authors handle plot, character and dialogue.

Second, join a writing group, for feedback. Or, if you can afford to, send your ms to a reputable literary consultancy which will offer you professional advice. (You’ll find them in the Writers and Artists Year Book, which can be consulted in any public library – assuming they haven’t all been closed down). You’ll have to pay for a critique, but it really will be worth it. Much better to do so, than to waste your time sending out an ms which more than probably has not yet reached its – and your – full potential. (I tried both ways, so I know this advice is good.)

Third – don’t despair, don’t give up. Most if not all published writers have been where you are now. Some of us have taken years learning the trade (and we keep on learning.) It’s not easy – but it is wonderfully worthwhile. Keep trying!

On behalf of all of my readers, I would like to say thank you Katherine for sharing your big break with us.  I loved learning about the auction and I was pleased to hear that Liz Kessler had a part in your books being published.

West Of the Moon is available to buy from all leading booksellers. Come back tomorrow to read my review of the book. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Really Random Tuesday

Really Random Tuesday is a meme created by Suko at Suko's Notebook which is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.

Firstly, the big news from Orion, who have announced the arrival of Indigo, a new imprint aimed at the young adult market featuring established well loved authors and exciting debut ones too. It will be launched in September 2011 and the company will release 4 new titles a month.
Fiona Kennedy will be the publisher of INDIGO alongside her role as publisher of Orion Children’s Books, with commissioning editors Gillian Redfearn (also Gollancz) and Amber Caraveo (also Orion Children's Books).
Here are some of the exciting authors leading the way for INDIGO.
Mia James, Cinda Williams Chima, Harlan Coben, Kate Harrison, Holly Black, Marcus Sedgwick, Sara Grant,Sally Gardner, Chris Wooding, Anna Kendall, Cliff McNish, Sarah Silverwood, Alan Gibbons, James Dawson,Chloe Neill and Annabel Pitcher.

Soul Beach by Kate Harrison will be one of the first books to be released in September.

I can't wait until September to dive into some of these books. The fact that Holly Black and Marcus Sedgewick are on this list has me jumping around with excitement. Also from what I have read about the debuts authors they are going to be outstanding. I have already spoken to James Dawson on Twitter and can't wait to read his debut book.
Remember to keep an eye open for the new books. I will show you all the first releases very soon.
Yesterday I got to meet Lauren Oliver, author of the brilliant novel Dystopian which I reviewed here.  I got to meet lots of lovely bloggers as well as getting the opportunity to chat to Lauren herself.  I will give you  a whole post about it on Monday with lots of pictures of the event.
I also got to poke around the offices of Little Brown Co, yesterday too. It was lovely to meet the wonderful people who keep us inundated with books from Abacus, Virago and Atom, as well as Sphere and Piatkus.I am just glad they didn't leave me alone too long with their extremely full book cases!
Don't forget that Katherine Langrish will be on the blog from tomorrow until Saturday, talking about her new book West of the Moon. Be sure to stop by, as there will be a giveaway too.

Monday, 21 March 2011

My Childhood Reading.

I wasn't always an avid reader as a child. I used to read in fits and starts. I don't recall my parents reading books at all, but they always seemed to buy me plentyof them.  I think I developed my reading habits from watching my brother who was and still is an avid reader.  I have fond memories of him, sat constantly with a book, oblivious to any conversations occuring around him. I have to laugh as I recall his bedroom full of carefully balanced book piles; walking around his room was like a game of Jenga, one false move and  a pile would topple. 

His love of books helped to create my love of books and now I want my children to feel the same. I want them to experience the way stories make me feel. The excitement at an unknown tale that has thrilled others.  The friendship and love you feel towards the characters by the end of the book.  The contentment at a happy ending. Ahh, there is nothing like a book to transport you to another time, another place or even another world. 

Lately I have being spending a lot more time attempting to guide my children's reading.They have been intrigued by the books that I used to read, which has resulted in a nostalgic journey back in time. So for today's post I wanted to share with you five books that played a huge part of my childhood which I hope to encourage my children to read.

1) Dear Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

I must have read this book a dozen times whilst growing up, but I never actually owned my own copy until last year when my husband bought it for me.  It is an epistolary novel and follows the story of Jerusha Abbot, an orphaned girl who is given a new life by a mysterious benefactor. In return for paying for her education, she is entitled to write to him once a month.  She has no idea who he is or even what his name is and refers only to him as Daddy Long Legs.

I recently reread this book and found it still appealed to my inner child.  I love Jerusha's enthusiasm for life and her passion for equality.  The story still charms me after all these years and will be one that I will continue to reread through out my life.

2) The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.

If you have never read this book, I fear as an adult it may be too late. This book was so enchanting to me as a child, that I often dreamed of living at Moonacre.  The magic that resonated off every page, filled my dreamworld during a time of unhappiness within my family due to bereavement.  However, when I returned to it as an adult, something had been lost and I found it no longer seemed as believable as it had then.  I almost wished I had left it as a memory rather than returning to read it. Though this does not marr my childhood love for it.

I recently watched the new film attached to the book called 'The Secrets of Moonacre' and was unhappy to find that it had been changed so drastically. I wish they had filmed it the same way it was written.

3) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

As far as I was concerned, I was Anne! I was very similar in nature to her and she was my idol whilst growing up.  I even had the long red hair, that caused everyone to call me names like 'Carrots'.  For anyone who does not know, Anne of Green Gables follows the story of Anne, an orphan, who goes to live with an elderly brother and sister and changes their lives for ever.

Anne is clumsy and struggles with her looks, yet she is loving and full of passion for life.  Her love of literature is infectious and you find yourself loving her instantly.
I can highly recommend the Canadian TV adaptation of Anne Of Green Gables,which was filmed in 1985 and starred the delightful Megan Follows. To this date, it is still one of my most watched films.

4) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

When I try to determine why I love this book so much, it always comes back to one point. That Jo, one of the sisters wanted to be a writer. I loved her need and passion to write. Within the book, I relished the part where the four sisters created their own newspaper. It led me to create my own too, which I distributed weekly amongst my family members. I can still see their eyes rolling as they had to read them week in, week out. 

5) Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
This was a book that my whole class read together when I first started secondary school. I didn't really enjoy my first year in that school and English lessons became my saving grace.  I loved it when we all sat and read passages from the book together.
Harriet spied upon her neighbours and kept notes on them, just like a reporter. I found it appealed to my inner writer who had developed early into part of my personality. I could see myself in Harriet's personality.

These were not the only five books that held a special place in my heart as I child, but they are probably the most important and the most loved ones.
What books did you love as a child?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Coveting Books

I must learn not to visit publishers websites. I spent a lovely hour yesterday browsing through the books on offer from Chicken House and began coveting the following ones.

The Amazing Mind of Alice Makin by Alan Shea

This book is set in post war London with a 'sixth sense' feel about it.  Twelve year old Alice is growing up in a world of old bombsites. She likes to spent her time delving into her imagination to get away from her stepfather.  To find out more click here.

Ravenwood by Andrew Peters

Fourteen year-old Ark has the squittiest job on Arborium, the last forested island in the future. A poor plumber’s boy, he unblocks toilets in the city where he lives – a breath-taking, mile-high world carved out of the vast upper branches of a giant canopy of trees.
To find out more click here.

Flood Child by Emily Diamand

The winner of the 2008 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition.
This is a futuristic novel set in 2216, where England is completely flooded.
To find out more click here

Girl About Time by Kerstin Gier
Every family has secrets. But what do you do if you find out that you are the family secret?

That’s what happens to Gwen when she finds herself unbelievably transported from out on the town to turn of the century London.
To find out more, click here

Tell Me What You See by Zoran Drvenkar

Berlin. The dead of night. Sixteen-year-old Alissa and her best friend Evelin make their secret Christmas pilgrimage to Alissa's father's grave.

In the graveyard, Alissa falls through thick snow into an underground crypt.

To find out more about this book click here

These books look too good to miss and will definitely be added to my TBR list. What do you think of them?

If you want to know more about the books published by Chicken House, then please click here