Category Archives: #am writing (and all things writing related)
Happy Publication Day to Josie Williams on The Wanderer out now from Firefly. Here’s my spot on the blog tour kicking things off with a character Q&A and a mini review.
About the Book
Nothing can stand in the way of love, not even death.
Alone in the world, Maggie only has her visits to her nan to look forward to. When the most popular boy in school saves her life she has no idea why he is suddenly acting like a different person.
Stuck between life and death, Ryder spends his days wandering around unseen by the living. When the girl he loves walks into danger, Ryder breaks the number one Wanderer’s rule: he saves her life.
But how can a Wanderer and a living girl ever reach their happily ever after?
About the Author
Josie Williams is the pseudonym of bestselling author Kirsty Moseley, whose New Adult romances have sold over 860,000 copies in English, and whose first novel, the YA romance The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window, was an international bestseller translated into many languages. Josie has a large and loyal YA fanbase. She lives in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. @xJosieWilliamsx
I wanted to find out more about Ryder and Maggie before the story starts so here are their answers at the age of 15
1. Do you believe in ghosts?
MAGGIE: I’m not sure. To be honest, I’ve never really thought about it much. I guess, I would say there probably is some sort of afterlife, but what that is or if it’s ghosts or Heaven or reincarnation or what I don’t know.
RYDER: Nah, ghosts are made up to sell movies and books. Have you seen that programme Ghost Hunters? Man, people believe any old crap if they put it on TV.
2. What do you find attractive in someone?
MAGGIE: Um… there is this one boy that I find attractive. I guess it was his looks that first attracted me to him, but he’s also really funny, I like a good sense of humour. And, like, I want to be able to talk to them easily and it not be awkward. I guess it also helps if they have eyes you want to drown in.
RYDER: A type you mean? I don’t really have a type. I guess my last girlfriend had brown hair and eyes, tanned skin, you know the usual stuff, but I’m not really fussy. I just like someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, someone who can fit in with my friends and who likes me for me.
3. Tell us about your family.
MAGGIE: Well, it’s just me and my nan. I lost my mum a few years ago so Nan is all I have left now. She’s amazing, funny, kind, she supports and encourages me in everything I do. Though I don’t have the conventional family that others do, I count myself as lucky to have her.
RYDER: I actually have a big family. I’m one of three boys so it’s pretty hectic in my house—never a dull moment. My parents are great, my dad has never missed a rugby match of mine and is like a big kid half the time. My mum is a ride or die mum, she’s always in your corner. If I was in a fight, she’d be the one I’d call. Out of all of them, I’m probably closest to my eldest brother though. He just started Uni this year so I miss him now that he’s not home. He’s wicked smart and wants to be a doctor. He’s got his life all planned out, he’s an inspiration and my hero, though I’d never tell him or he’d get a big head about it. We’re all just pretty normal, to be honest,
4. What would you do to be noticed?
MAGGIE: Why would I want to be noticed? I’m happy just trudging along with my book in hand. The people that notice me are the ones I want in my life, I don’t want to have to do something out of the ordinary or force people to pay attention to me, those people aren’t really worth having notice you anyway.
RYDER: Noticed? Why wouldn’t I be noticed? I don’t understand the question.
5. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
MAGGIE: I guess I would still be at university by then? I want to do a degree in English and/or business. My ultimate goal is to own my own independent bookshop where people can come in and browse and there’s recommendations on each shelf, maybe a corner where kids can come and sit and find their love of reading. So I guess in five years I hope to be working towards that.
RYDER: Down the seafront drawing people for five quid a pop. Perfect.
What I Thought
I loved this. The characters of Maggie and Ryder are so compelling and it makes you really root for them. Maggie has certainly been through a lot in life and Ryder hasn’t had the easiest ride in the afterlife.
Giving me echoes of films Casper, Ghost and Everyday (by David Levithan) this book is perfect for this time of year and I challenge you not to fall for Maggie as hard as Ryder does.
I liked that the ethics of lots of aspects were explored too – stalking, body snatching, consent and so on – That’s not to say our two lovebirds act perfectly- they are teens falling in first love after all but there is a real humanity to both of them.
The side characters also feel super real and part of me hopes we might get more in this ‘world’ from author Josie Williams.
Dealing with love, loss, grief and ghosts this is a perfect read for the season and now I want to go and watch a whole load of spooky films. I can’t believe I don’t own Casper in proper DVD so will be rectifying that asap! If you want to know why I picked Die Hard for the background and see if Maggie and Ryder’s 5 year plan comes true then you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
A huge thanks to Karen, Firefly and the author for the gifted book for the purposes of an honest review. Do check out the other spots on the tour – some fab fellow bloggers and superb humans taking part in this one.
I’m delighted to host a guest post from debut author Finbar Hawkins about his publishing journey for Witch. This is a powerful tale of revenge, grief and sisterhood and is perfect for Halloween week. Later in the week I’ll share my full review but for now I’ll hand over to Finbar.
My Publishing Journey
I’ve always written, but even with seeing ‘Witch’ out on the shelves, I still have difficulty describing myself as a writer. It’s not so much self-doubt, I think it more springs from each new thing you write feels like starting again, finding out how to write again. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the feeling, and to be honest I feel it’s a good spur, a jab of the heels to keep me coming back to the blank page.
My route to publishing started with the Arvon Foundation. I had never experienced a writing workshop before, working on exercises to approach character, setting and emotion. The writing samples I brought with me were little short film ideas, so I wasn’t even writing prose at that time. But it was through a number of exercises in class, under our tutor Lucy Christopher’s guidance, that the beginnings of a story emerged, and I kept going through that amazing week and into the months beyond. Lucy is a lecturer at Bath Spa (now the Course Director!) and she had encouraged me (along with a number of my Arvon compadres) to apply. Through early morning starts before children were awake and work, the story that I started had now grown into approximately 30k. But I craved feedback, more of what I had experienced at Arvon – critical feedback from other writers.
I was delighted to get a place on Bath Spa, because over those two years part-time I started to write properly around critical workshops. And the thing is about workshops is that you have to raise your game – you’re delivering to a little audience, and you’re going to be hearing other people’s work, giving your own thoughts on it. I also learnt that giving a critique is just as important for writing, because you’re looking at the craft all the time, your training that writing muscle.
I decided to park the ms I had been working on since Arvon because in that first term, Witch came bowling along and demanded to be told. The workshop was integral again, because I had a very good set of notes from a group of other writers – who wanted to know what happened next. I was immensely interested also in the challenge of writing from a young woman’s perspective.
The core of the MA is about working on and delivering your ms, and from there we all then work on putting together an Anthology to showcase our work for a launch event in London. Agents and editors are invited along to this terrifying and exhilarating evening. There I met Catherine Pellegrino of Marjacq Scripts who had read and liked my anthology extract.
I knew Catherine was the agent for me, because she pushed me to make the ms as good as it possibly could be. So we set to work, and over several drafts pushed and pulled Witch into submission shape. I would stress that there is no real time frame for this, and you shouldn’t feel rushed. Let the ms ‘bake’ in between drafts, write other bits and pieces and then go through it taking notes. It will all be much the better for it.
Finally we both felt that Witch was ready to fly. And at the end of an excruciating week waiting to hear back from editors, it was Fiona Kennedy at Zephyr who from the outset pretty much demanded my book should be published by her. There were other others in the frame, but because of Fiona’s incredible passion for Witch, I knew I had found the right home.
My publishing journey has all been about some fundamental things – you need to take that first jump and put your writing in front of a critical audience (it’s hard, but you’ll get used to it); you need to trust your instincts when meeting agents and editors; you need to take your time; and you need to remember to enjoy it!
WITCH by Finbar Hawkins is out now in hardback (£12.99, Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus)
Follow Finbar Hawkins @finbar_hawkins and find out more finbarhawkins.com
I’m not going to lie I’ve been eyeing up both the Arvon Foundation courses and the Bath Spa MA for years and like Evey’s jealously of sister Dill I must try and keep my green eyed monster in check. Maybe one day!
Huge Congratulations to Finbar on a wonderful debut. Come back on Wednesday for my full review and do check out the rest of the posts on the tour running this week.
Today is the launch day for debut YA novel Legends Awake by Alex Stiles and I have a guest post by one of the book’s characters for you, letting you know more about one of the creatures that inhabits this new world.
First up let me tell you a little more about the book and it’s author.
About the Book
Alone in an unfamiliar world, fourteen-year-old Peran is suffering from amnesia. With society still consumed by decades-old war and the ancient sorcery of the Stoneborn warriors, he finds refuge in an academy of combat and survival. But Peran struggles to fit in, and when he defeats opponents beyond his skill, fellow students suspect his extraordinary abilities, leaving even his friends to wonder who — or what — he really is.
When out testing their skills, his dorm-mate falls victim to a coffin-mouth viper and only the Elin Shard can save him. Peran sets out to find the magical artifact, but to succeed against the legendary predators he encounters, he must first confront his true identity.
About the Author
“I was born in Bromley, England, in 1979. As a child I was a daydreamer, always away in my own world. It used to drive my teachers crazy and my parents too, especially on parents’ evenings.I always read books I could get lost in – fantasy, sci-fi, adventure – anything that would transport me to another world, time or place. I loved the escape, not that I needed to escape anymore than the next child, but being transported to another place, another world, that was magical.
As an adult, I still love books that deliver that escapism and decided to write my own. Squeezing writing in amongst a full-time job and a busy home life has been a challenge, but I am delighted to have completed my first novel “Legends Awake”. I have escaped into another world writing it and I hope that you escape reading it as well.
Holidays for me are all about escape too, and there’s nothing like climbing a mountain to achieve that. The Lake District, England, is my destination of choice. It’s an amazing place and I’ve no doubt inspires and influences my writing. Having recently moved, I now live in Somerset with my partner and am enjoying writing the second book, often accompanied by our three feline companions.”
Sniffits are one of many natural wonders of our world. A remarkable little creature, they are the clear favourite of the Striplings at Amicas Academy.
The length of a forearm and golden, sniffits have a light stripe down their backs and legs, with a black line running along each side. Males have a thicker black stripe than the females – they are otherwise indistinguishable.Sniffits have six stumpy legs and a small fluffy tail that provides little balance, which is a shame really as they are primarily tree dwellers. They move through the branches inelegantly but securely, gripping to the bark with sharp claws and feeding upon bugs and insects as well as the odd priggin. Up close, they have a squat black nose and thick white whiskers around a slight, inset mouth. Despite their appearance, sniffits can deliver a vicious bite and have a tendency to hang on until they’ve been talked out of it.
When you first meet a sniffit, what strikes you is just how fluffy they are, with pointy furry ears and two large, black eyes. You would be forgiven for thinking they might make for an enjoyable meal and their furs could keep your head warm in the winter, but sniffits are so much more. In fact, that’s exactly what our predecessors thought, and for hundreds of cycles they hunted sniffits for food and their coats. Until one day an anxious girl, who liked to keep to herself, befriended one. After a less than a moon-turn, people noticed she’d started keeping the company of others and by her side was the sniffit. One sharp-eyed father observed the calming effect the sniffit had on the girl whenever she looked anxious. She seemed to gain so much from the relationship that he encouraged his own children to find themselves sniffits. They soon found their furry companions and were all the happier and more confident for it. Word spread and gradually the sniffits found themselves saved from the stew pot to accompany the young people of New Haven.
Today, the sniffits are so embedded in our culture we have writings on them. So what’s so special about them?
A sniffit needs to be needed. They take pleasure from relieving stress, anguish, anxiety and other emotions prevalent in young people. The bond between a child and sniffit is strong, and a sniffit is very particular about who they bond with. On first meeting, they examine the very depths of the child, it has even be said that they can see souls. Once formed, the bond will last until the child no longer regularly exhibits those emotions – they no longer need the sniffit and the bond will break.The presence of sniffits is not always welcome, they can be mischievous and disruptive. This, though, is far outweighed by their benefits and here in the white-knuckle environment of Amicas Academy, all Striplings get the chance to bond with a sniffit.
Instructor in Flora and Fauna
What do you think? Would you like to bond with a Sniffit?